woman being check for scoliosis

Helpful Exercises and Stretches for Adults with Scoliosis

Since two to three percent of the U.S. population has scoliosis, the condition affects millions of people. While some who have the disorder are symptom-free, some are dealing with pain and limitations, and some are considerably disabled. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we find that most of our patients with varying degrees of scoliosis can benefit from exercises and stretches designed specifically for them. It should be noted, however, that your exercise regimen should be approved by your doctor before you begin and that some exercises (like push-ups or pull-ups) can be harmful for people with scoliosis.

Let’s explore some of the most effective types of exercise for individuals with this particular problem. If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, the following stretches and exercises can help you improve and maintain muscle strength and flexibility and, in combination with other treatments, may assist in reducing your spinal curvature. Most importantly, these exercises can help relieve back pain, make you more limber, and increase your range of motion:

1. Arm/Leg Raises

Lie on your stomach with your forehead on the mat and your arms and legs fully extended. Slowly raise one arm and hold the pose for 10 seconds, then raise and hold each of your other limbs in turn. A more difficult version of this exercise involves lifting the opposite arm and leg simultaneously.

2. Cat/Cow (Cat/Camel) Pose

Begin on your hands and knees, making sure that your body is properly aligned: arms with shoulders, hips with knees, head with spine. Round your back until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Then lift your chest and tailbone, look up, arch your back, and stretch your abdomen.

3. Pelvic Tilt

This exercise strengthens your abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor by tightening your abdominal muscles and pulling your pelvis up slightly. Hold and repeat.

4. Latissimus Stretch

Begin this exercise (named after large muscles in the lower back) in a standing position with your feet and shoulders aligned. With slightly bent knees, reach over your head with both hands and grab your left hand with your right. Now bend your body to your left to feel a gentle stretch. Hold your body in this position, with your weight primarily on your left leg. Then repeat on the opposite side.

5. Abdominal Press

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Raise your right leg so that your knee is at a 90-degree angle with your hip while tightening your abdominal muscles. Rest your right hand on top of your right knee. Push your hand against your knee while pulling your knee towards your hand. Keep your arm straight for 3 deep breaths. Return to your resting position and then do the same thing with the other leg and hand.

6. Plank Exercise

Begin on your hands and knees and place your forearms on the floor, keeping your elbows aligned with your shoulders, forming a right angle. Push your toes down and lift your body up by tightening your abdominal muscles, making sure to keep your body straight, not raising your bottom. Hold for several seconds, and repeat.

7. Downward Dog

Begin this yoga pose on all fours. Extend your hands, keeping them shoulder-width apart. Then lift your knees, tucking your toes against the mat to extend your legs and lift both knees into the air. Your body should make an inverted V. Hold this position for several seconds and then release.

All of these exercises should become easier and more helpful as you do more of them, so gradually increase the number of times you do each one until you reach a comfortable level for daily activity.

If You Need More Help with Your Scoliosis, Contact Our Experienced Physiatrists

For more advanced nonsurgical treatment for scoliosis, get in touch with us. More than that, we are dedicated to making you more comfortable as quickly as possible.