Because scoliosis can impact your overall health, many people with this condition think they need to avoid exercise or physical activity — but that’s just not true! In reality, the right type of exercise can actually help people with scoliosis reduce pain and maintain (or even increase) mobility.
That’s where strength training comes in, for some folks with scoliosis. Strength exercises can help build core strength, which supports the spine by making the muscles stronger and stabilizing the area. With these exercises, you can help build the endurance of your core, which slows the progression of further curvature in your spine.
It also helps reduce pain and any discomfort associated with scoliosis — and who doesn’t want that?
If you’re looking for ways to reduce pain or maintain mobility at home, here are our top 10 strength exercises for scoliosis for those just starting out.
The first one isn’t necessarily an exercise, but rather a way to check where your posture is at right now to make the needed adjustments. This will help you establish your alignment and get your curve into the best alignment for further exercises. Perfect 1-2 sets of 10 breaths to start.
This stretch will elongate and align the curve in your spine. It’s quick, simple, and only requires a chair and a nearby wall to balance yourself on. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
Squats are an essential part of any strength training program, and even more so for those with scoliosis. They’re a compound exercise, meaning that they work both the upper and lower muscle groups at the same time — most notably the thighs and glutes, so they are exponential to any workout routine. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
This exercise will help you identify which side is weaker in terms of muscle strength, ultimately strengthening it and helping balance out your spine. It can also strengthen your erectors, which protect and support your spine. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
This exercise can help you identify whether or not one side shifts more and can help you center your pelvis. Use a yoga block or soft Pilates ball to rest on. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps on the opposite side of whichever sticks out more.
This modified exercise helps elongate your spine and activate the supporting muscles. All you need is a resistance band (to modify the bar) and a vertical overhead bar to anchor it on. You can also use an attachment in your doorway to anchor the band at home. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
Again, back strength is a pillar in any strength training routine that focuses on scoliosis. Improved back strength can help with simple tasks like walking up and down stairs, bending over to pick things up, and going from a sitting to standing position. This exercise can help strengthen the upper back specifically. If you have a thoracic curve, make sure to pay attention to the position of your ribs so you are strengthening evenly around your curve. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
The serratus muscle is the muscle that connects the shoulder blades to the rib cage. This exercise will help work on scapular (shoulder blade) stability and support. You just need an elevated service to brace yourself on. You could also make this harder by doing a plank on the ground. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
You’ll only need a resistance band and a vertical bar to anchor it to perform this exercise, which will help strengthen the core rotators without going into end-range rotation (which can be pretty uncomfortable when you have scoliosis!). Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
This is a great way to start working on core stability in good posture alignment. There is no additional equipment needed, but you can perform this exercise on a mat for extra padding (and comfort) on your hands and feet. Perform 3 sets x 10 reps.
Want even more ways to build your strength and ease your pain?
These 10 exercises are a great place to start, but if you’re looking for a more extensive routine to strengthen your back and core and kick that scoliosis pain to the curb, then take a look at our Scoliosis Strength Program!
We have scoliosis ourselves, so we know what it takes to make a difference — the proper way. In this program, you’ll learn the right exercises to build up your strength without compromising your well-being. This isn’t your average strength program, it’s one that’s been specifically designed with you in mind.
The Scoliosis Strength Program has 3 features that differentiate it from other physical therapy or exercise programs you’ve done in the past. And unlike many other “treatment” programs for scoliosis, we’ll actually listen to you and make sure your pain gets the attention it deserves.
Beth Terranova, PT, DPT
Start today on an exercise program that helps you become empowered, strong, and confident in your scoliosis curve.
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