Pilates for Scoliosis




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Published December 1, 2021

Photo credit: D-eye Photography

scoliotic vs normal spine

What is Scoliosis? 

Scoliosis is a common condition referring to a sideways curve in the spine. It is defined as a curvature of over 10 degrees and presents as an S or C curve. Scoliosis is most commonly idiopathic (unknown cause) and is often diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, particularly in severe cases. When diagnosed in adulthood it is typically a result of undiagnosed childhood scoliosis.  

important stats about scoliosis

Scoliosis can present from mild to severe. Many adults go their whole lives without formally diagnosing or treating mild scoliosis. Most cases of scoliosis require little or no treatment, however, severe, or progressive scoliosis requires medical attention. Symptoms of progressive scoliosis include back pain, bone and joint inflammation, breathing difficulties, injuries, infection, and increased risk of osteoporosis. Even if scoliosis is mild, it is important to be aware of the spinal curvature and prevent progressive problems in the future. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of Pilates and scoliosis specific exercises to your spinal health.  

How Pilates Can Help

Pilates exercises are built on a foundation of strength, control, alignment, and precision.

Can Pilates help scoliosis? Pilates helps to build postural alignment and balance— two things someone with scoliosis may struggle with. Using Pilates technique, misalignments can be corrected, providing relief from symptoms of scoliosis, and encouraging better musculoskeletal structure and movement.  

clinical study (Alves de Arujo et al, 2012) that compared scoliosis improvement in a Pilates and control group found that Pilates significantly reduced the degree of scoliosis and associated pain. The group participating in twice-weekly one-hour Pilates sessions also showed improvement in their flexibility and movement with scoliosis over a three-month period.  

The benefits of Pilates for scoliosis extend beyond the work in the Pilates studio.  Clients learn exercises and techniques to work with their scoliosis in their everyday activities. In adults, it is important to work with the spinal curves to facilitate movement and breathe.  

With time, the control and precision of daily movements will improve, reducing the impact of scoliosis and preventing future injuries or ailments. So, is Pilates good for scoliosis? The answer is yes. Pilates is a great option for the long-term management of scoliosis.  

Case Study

Kate has been diagnosed with mild scoliosis (curvature of the spine is less than 20 degrees) in her thoracic spine.

Because her symptoms were limiting the movement in her shoulders, it led to a number of shoulder and arm problems. One of which is the tennis elbow, a condition that causes pain and tenderness in the bony knob on the outside of the elbow. As an avid runner, Kate has been very active most of her life and loves doing Ironman races or long-distance triathlons. She was afraid that her condition would adversely affect her daily life. Therefore, she decided to take a more proactive approach to manage her scoliosis. 

Kate sought help from different allied health professionals. She had steroid injections in both her shoulders and around the tendons in her right elbow. She found the treatment very effective and gave her relief for a few months. She also went through physiotherapy sessions and signed up for a gym membership to strengthen her shoulders. Nevertheless, Kate credits Pilates exercises for scoliosis for helping her get back to her active lifestyle.  

“I highly recommend Pilates for people with scoliosis as it provides immediate relief through releases and longstanding management through exercises and strengthening of muscles.” - Kate 

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Kate recommends that anyone experiencing scoliosis symptoms should consider Pilates to significantly improve movement. She finds the releases and exercises in our Canberra pilates studio to be extremely helpful in maximising her movement. Doing Pilates has allowed her to do the things that are important to her like swimming and sewing. 

If you would like to know more about Reformer Pilates for scoliosis and what Pilates Can program is best for you

 Leave an enquiry below or speak to our friendly team at 0419 777 477. 

About the author 

Claire Gunther is a PAA Principal Level Pilates Instructor with over 20 years and 20k+ hours of professional Pilates delivery experience.


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