You may not be aware of it, but your spine is shaped with a natural curve. If you were to look at it from the side, you would notice these curves, which cause it to look similar to the letter “S.” This type of curvature is completely normal, but your spine should still be vertically straight from the base of your neck to your tailbone. When the spine curves to the side, however, it means scoliosis is present, which can lead to issues in the future. Fortunately, our physical therapists can treat scoliosis in New York City with a set of specific exercises.
Scoliosis is not a disease, but rather a term used to describe this abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. When scoliosis occurs, the spine can curve in one of three ways:
- It curves to the side as a single curve to the left (shaped like the letter “C”)
- It curves to the side as a single curve to the right (shaped like a backwards “C”)
- It has two curves (shaped like the letter “S,” not to be confused with normal curvature, which looks like an “S” from the side)
Scoliosis in New York City can develop at any age, but it is most commonly seen in individuals between 10-18 years old, and it’s often detected by school screenings or regular physician visits. During screenings, medical professionals look for abnormal curvature of the spine, uneven shoulders, asymmetry of waistline or one hip higher than the other. Idiopathic scoliosis, which means that it has no known cause, is the most common form overall (affecting 2% of the population) and the most common form in children. Patients with idiopathic scoliosis rarely experience pain and the curve is usually minor enough that treatment isn’t needed, but this can change with time.
Treating scoliosis in New York City with the Schroth Method
After scoliosis is detected, some doctors recommend waiting and regularly monitoring the spine to see if the curve gets worse. While this many be appropriate in some situations, we typically recommend using a specific set of exercises guided by the Schroth Method as the best possible approach for idiopathic scoliosis at any age.
Under the Schroth Method, patients perform a set of exercises that are designed to address breathing, stability and balance. Its goal is to teach patients to improve their scoliosis posture with the assumption that bad posture leads to their curve progressing more. In effect, these exercises will prevent the progression of the curve, eliminate pain, and lead to long-term improvements in their posture.
There are numerous Schroth Method exercises, and the combination of exercises each patient performs is based on their unique scoliosis and the curves of their spine. Unlike conventional exercises that are done the same on both sides of the body, scoliosis exercises are generally applied on one side only in order to correct the imbalances of the spine by lengthening and strengthening muscles. On the whole, the exercises consist of a combination of stretching, strengthening and breathing techniques, which follow this three-step exercise process:
- 1) First, make sure the pelvis is properly aligned
- 2) Then, do exercises to lengthen the spine, followed by breathing techniques to move the spine and ribs into the best possible posture
- 3) Finally, tense the muscles of the trunk, which will strengthen weak muscles and preserve the posture that has now been corrected
By utilizing the Schroth Method, we can effectively treat scoliosis in New York City before it develops further and causes additional problems in the future. If you or your child is dealing with scoliosis, contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on the Schroth Method.