Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal condition that affects 2 to 3 percent of US citizens. The condition causes a problematic curvature of the spine, and nearly 80 percent of cases have unknown causes. It occurs most commonly in young girls.
While the Scoliosis Research Society has claimed that back exercises alone cannot stop the spinal curvature from worsening, they can improve your body’s strength and flexibility, and relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Here’s a list of six highly recommended scoliosis exercises that can be done outside. If you are currently undergoing treatment for scoliosis, check with your doctor before developing an exercise routine.
1. Side twist
It’s easy to do stretches outside. Just grab a yoga mat or a towel, and head outside. It’s best to avoid an overly busy park where there’s heavy traffic or noise: remember, you’re trying to relieve pain, not gain a headache.
The side twist is a simple and enduring exercise. Sit down with your legs out straight in front of you. Take your right arm and wrap it across your abdomen until your fingers are wrapped around the back of your left hip. Use this to help twist your body to the left. Hold for a count of ten, and then repeat for the right hand side.
2. Seated toe-touch
Another simple and effective stretch that can be done outside, the seated toe-touch looks just like a standing one. For maximum impact, attempt to flatten your body against your legs, holding your feet or ankles for support, and focus on your back. Keep the undersides of your knees as flat against the ground as possible. Count to ten, rest, repeat.
3. Locust pose
A little therapeutic yoga goes a long way. Certain poses will help more than others, and the Locust pose is a great example.
Lie face down on your mat with your arms extended, as parallel as possible to your shoulders so you look like a large T. Focus on your breathing. When you exhale, you will lift your head and upper chest. Now you’ll look a bit like a large seal.
Once in this position, press your thighs into the mat, and flex your buttocks. As you release the position, exhale. Repeat this pattern, stretching your arms out above your head.
4. Walk in the water
Water exercises or “pool therapy” are a popular method of scoliosis treatment. Without gravity, spinal stress is relieved so stretches can be done without accompanying pain.
So find a pool or a calm body of water, and get walking! Simply walking around the perimeter with your feet touching will work, or step your exercise up to the next level and jog. You can even water ski (cross-country style).
5. Leg lifts
Another good exercise to try in the pool (where the water provides natural resistance) is the leg lift.
Place your back against the wall of the pool and support yourself with your arms. Then raise your legs so they are at a 90-degree angle with your hips and move them slowly from one side to the other.
Be sure to keep your back flat against the wall of the pool. For added intensity, stick your legs out straight, then bring them in toward your stomach and extend them again.
6. Leg extensions
Strength is as important for relieving scoliosis symptoms as stretching. A strong core and abdomen can help the body fight against spine curvature. Do leg extensions, which work the lower and side abdominal muscles.
Lie flat on your back, place your hands underneath your buttocks, and slowly lift your outstretched legs off the ground until they are making a 45-degree angle. Hold this pose, then slowly lower your legs until you are three inches from the ground. Hold this pose, then lift again. This is a tough workout, but it pays, so start off slow and build your strength.
Remember, if you need further information about scoliosis or are interested in developing a workout routine, you should consult a physician first. Your doctor or chiropractor will help you design a comprehensive treatment plan that involves exercise as well as other therapies.