Many people don’t realize that their spine is actually shaped with natural curves. If you were to look at your spine from the side, you would notice an appearance that resembles the letter “S,” which is due to three curves. While this type of curvature is completely normal, your spine should be straight vertically from the base of your neck to your tailbone. When the spine does curve to the side, however, it means scoliosis is present. This condition can lead to problems if it is not properly addressed, but fortunately our New York City physical therapists can effectively evaluate your curve and set you up on an exercise program designed specifically for you.
Scoliosis is not a disease, but rather a term used to describe this abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. When scoliosis occurs, the spine usually curves in one of three ways:
- To the side, as a single curve to the left (shaped like the letter “C”)
- To the side, as a single curve to the right (shaped like a backwards “C”)
- With two curves (shaped like the letter “S” when looked at from the back)
Scoliosis can develop at any age, but it is most commonly seen in adolescents between 10-18 years old, and is 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, as it affects about 2% of the population. Patients with idiopathic scoliosis rarely experience pain and the curve is usually minor when first detected, but this can change over time.
Why our New York City physical therapists use the Schroth and SEAS Methods
After scoliosis is detected, some doctors recommend waiting and regularly monitoring the spine to see if the curve gets worse. Our New York City physical therapists typically recommend using a specific set of exercises instead, which includes the Schroth Method and Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS) Method for the best possible results.
Under the Schroth Method, patients perform a set of exercises that are designed to address breathing and positioning. Its goal is to teach patients to improve their alignment in an attempt to halt or slow curve progression. These exercises are taught in the practice but will also be put to use at home to have the best chance of long lasting effect.
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 performed 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.
The SEAS Method is another type of exercise protocol that has been used for over 30 years, with continuous updates being added to it ever since based on advances in research. Therapy typically includes at least two weekly exercise sessions lasting about 40 minutes each, and exercises focus on helping patients recover posture control and improve the stability of their spine. This is accomplished with exercises that strengthen the muscles of the spine and through education that teaches patients how to maintain proper posture in all positions they hold throughout the day, which in turn will improve their functioning, too.
Visit Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy to find out how to treat your scoliosis
By utilizing the Schroth Method and SEAS, our New York City physical therapists are helping patients with scoliosis everyday. 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 the Schroth Method.