Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. Onset is often in adolescence, but can progress in adulthood related to degenerative conditions. Curves may be located in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine and often consist of 2 curves (S curve) to maintain upright posture.
As the scoliotic curve progresses it can become painful and functionally limiting. The Schroth Method (tinyurl.com/scoliosisWL) and Alexander techniques are used to manage the condition or reduce the curve. A recent study looked at the benefits of Yoga for pain and posture improvements.
The study looked at 74 people with scoliosis completing a home yoga program. Participants completed a modified side plank (Vasisthasana) pose with convex side of curve down. The pose was modified to keep the upper ribs a half-inch higher than the classic straight pose. If the participates also had a curve in the upper half of the spine they added a half-moon (Ardha Chandrasana) pose using a belt for assistance. This was done with the convex side of the curve down. Poses were hel for as long as possible, every other day, for 6-11 months.
Results were encouraging; lower curves decreased by 24% and upper curves decreased by 28%. It’s thought that the yoga poses work by strengthening the convex side of the curve thus reducing the curve.
Scoliosis can become painful and functional limiting, but you can also stay active and manage, reduce, or prevent progression of the curve. Yoga is a great “at home” way of improving your scoliosis curve and pain. If you have a scoliosis diagnosis or concerns for your posture, you should be medically evaluated to be sure that you are working on the right things to improve your deficit.