Maintaining a good posture for scoliosis is a critical aspect of a successful lifelong treatment strategy. The best exercises for scoliosis are low impact, focus on core strengthening exercises for scoliosis, and exercises to relieve pain. While scoliosis exercises to straighten the spine are generally unique to the ScoliSMART approach for adolescent patients, exercises for adult scoliosis can significantly improve quality of life. This article includes information on Yoga for scoliosis, stretches that relieve scoliosis pain, and core exercises for scoliosis, all of which should be done with proper technique for maximum effectiveness.

Yoga Poses & Scoliosis Exercises

When seeking relief from scoliosis pain, many of today’s patients turn to yoga.

Although this ancient practice doesn’t make any significant impact on the progression of spinal curves, the strengthening and structural alignment developed through yoga poses (known as asanas) can reduce pain and help patients live more comfortable lives.

“I find that asana alleviates pain in nooks that would otherwise hold it,” said one scoliosis patient. “And when I’m not practicing, I feel the pain return to certain parts of my back that feel pressure.”

But yoga and scoliosis don’t necessarily go hand in hand. While many poses are perfectly safe for scoliotic spines — and some even provide proven benefits — many others can make the curves worse. To safely perform yoga for scoliosis relief, it’s important to differentiate between asanas that can help and those that pose a risk, especially for those who have undergone spinal fusion surgery. Scoliosis is a lifelong journey.

Sid non bracing Treatment

Recommended Yoga Poses for Scoliosis

Yoga has simple poses that help people with curved spines by strengthening muscles, reducing pain and focusing on breathing. These exercises, when done regularly, can enhance life quality. The mountain pose improves balance and core strength with a tall stance and proper spinal alignment. The tree pose enhances balance, core strength, and posture for individuals with scoliosis. The cat pose, done on the knees, stretches spine muscles and tendons to loosen the back.

Advanced Yoga Poses for Scoliosis –

1. Double leg abdominal press:

2. Single leg balance:

3. Plank:

4. Bird-Dog

5. Latissimus dorsi stretch:

6. Step down and one-arm reach:

7. Split stance with arm reach:

Yoga Poses to Avoid with Scoliosis –

While the right scoliosis exercises can help alleviate secondary effects such as pain, the wrong ones can actually make the condition worse.

Physical therapist Christa Lehnert-Schroth has seen many patients damaged from performing improper exercises. “In some cases, our patients had performed bad exercises for years before coming to our clinic, and their condition was far worse – and more difficult and time-consuming to correct – than if they had done no exercises at all,” she said.

When practicing yoga for scoliosis, avoid the following poses, which can have detrimental effects:

Bending backward:

Much common yoga poses hyperextend the middle back, including cobra, half-moon, locust, and sun salutation. These can actually increase the spinal curves in patients.

get more information on our scoliosis exercise programs

Twisting the torso:

Avoid using the spinal twist in yoga for scoliosis. Twisting the upper body may worsen the spine’s curves. Bending the rib cage in different directions can also harm those with scoliosis. Poses like side bends and twists are risky. The shoulder stand position strains the neck and shoulders, leading to increased rib deformities. Choose scoliosis-friendly yoga exercises instead of this one. While yoga can ease pain, it’s not a replacement for specialized scoliosis exercises. Specific exercises can reduce curve severity by correcting posture naturally, aiding in avoiding invasive treatments like surgery or bracing.

Twisting the torso

10 Stretches for Scoliosis to Help Alleviate Pain

When scoliosis starts causing pain, many patients find relief through stretching.

Stretching with scoliosis can help alleviate back by releasing tension in the muscles surrounding the spine. It also increases blood flow and lubrication in the joints, which helps keep the body limber.

While a normal spine moves from side to side (e.g. while walking), “people with scoliosis can bend only in one direction and are unable to access movement in the opposite direction,” says , a personal trainer, and corrective exercise specialist. As you determine which side of your body lacks elasticity, you can focus your stretching on that area to help relieve discomfort, improve flexibility, and increase your range of motion in moderate and severe cases.

Recent research has found that and subsequent nutrient therapies can significantly reduce pain associated with the scoliosis condition, and prevent further curve progression. Nutrient therapy, combined with appropriate stretching, will make a difference.

But keep in mind that some back stretches can work counter-intuitively.

What Types Of Exercises Help Scoliosis

While stretching in the opposite direction of your spinal curve would seem to make sense, it does little to impact the source of the pain (postural imbalance). Stretching further in the direction your spine already bends, on the other hand, can cause the elongated muscles to pull back and shorten a bit, which helps balance out your posture.

Begin by holding each stretch for 30 seconds and repeating it two or three times. As the stretches become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend in each one.

1. Chest Stretch –

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms in front of your chest
  2. Pull your arms backward and press your shoulder blades together, stretching the chest

2. Right-Angle Wall Stretch

  1. Place your hands on a wall at shoulder level, shoulder-width apart
  2. Walk your feet back until they are directly under your hips
  3. Push your palms into the wall, lengthening your spine
  4. Keep your lower back tucked in and arms straight

3. Back Stretch

This is one of the simplest scoliosis back stretches you can do.

  1. Stand with your arms extended in front of your chest
  2. Lace your fingers and push them away from your chest until your feel a stretch in your upper back
  3. Hold

4. Child’s Pose

  1. Kneel, then push your hips back toward your heels
  2. Reach your arms forward and lay your hands flat on the floor
  3. Breathe into the stretch

5. Up and Down Dog

  1. In a prone plank position (i.e. forearms on the mat in front of you with elbows directly under your shoulders), push your hips back as far as possible
  2. Hold for two seconds, then lower your hips toward the floor (as low as possible without discomfort)

6. Rag Doll

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet wider than hip-width apart
  2. Bend forward, grabbing your elbows with the opposite hands, until the crown of your head faces the floor
  3. Breathe deeply and let the stretch expand slowly, allowing your spine to hang

7. Lower Back Stretch

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs and arms extended straight out
  2. Raise your left arm and right leg toward the ceiling and hold for 5-10 seconds
  3. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg

8. Hip Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended
  2. Gently pull the left knee toward your chest with both hands, keeping your foot lifted toward the ceiling
  3. Stretch as far as you can without pain and hold
  4. Repeat on the other side

9. Cat Stretch

  1. Kneel on all fours and face forward with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders, fingers spaced wide apart
  2. As you exhale, contract your abdomen to push your stomach toward your spine, while curving your back toward the ceiling

10. Overhead Stretch

  1. Sit with your legs crossed and back to a wall
  2. Use both hands to grasp a small ball or rolled-up towel
  3. Raise the object over your head and stretch upward, keeping your elbows against the wall

scoliosis is more than back pain

Best Core Strengthening and Workout Exercises You Can Try At Home For Scoliosis

Exercises to help scoliosis

You don’t have to be a fitness professional to take advantage of increased core muscle strength. Your core strength determines your body’s ability to control and support the curvature of your spine. It is an essential part of any effective treatment for adult scoliosis. When your core becomes stronger, your lower back and abdominal muscles become better able to balance and stabilize your posture, helping to achieve muscular symmetry.

Core exercises won’t shrink curves in adults with scoliosis but can prevent worsening and ease back pain. They play an important role in helping prevent progression and can also help reduce back pain caused by scoliosis. They’re vital for enhancing life quality when used with scoliosis-specific rehab. Common core exercises for scoliosis are from Pilates, focusing on strength and posture improvement. A study showed Pilates boosted abdominal strength by 20% and corrected muscle imbalances in women over nine months.

Below are some adult scoliosis exercises you can do at home to help strengthen your core:

1. Spider

Stand facing the wall with your feet together. Lean forward and place your hands on the wall at chest height. Tighten your abs and walk your fingers up the wall. As you extend your arms over your head, come up on your tiptoes. Once your arms are extended, with a straight line from hands to heels, walk your fingers back down. Repeat, keeping abs and lower back muscles engaged.

2. Pelvic tilts

Lie face-up on the floor with knees bent, feet flat, and arms at your sides. Tighten your belly and buttocks to curl your pelvic bone inward, feeling your lower back flatten out against the floor. Hold for five seconds, breathing normally, before releasing. Repeat.

3. Cat-camel

Get on your hands and knees, with your abs tight and head straight. Take a deep breath in and lift your lower rib cage, rounding out your back and relaxing your neck. Breathe out, lowering your chest toward the floor and looking upward. Return to the beginning position, with your abs tight, and repeat.

4. Crunches

Lie with the small of your back on a stability ball and your feet on the floor. Place your fingertips behind your head, keeping your elbows wide. Sit up, making sure your abdominal muscles are engaged, then lie back.

5. Back extensions

Lie with your stomach and quads on a stability ball and your feet braced against the wall. Place your fingertips behind your ears. Lower your torso into the ball, then lift up (as if performing reverse crunches).

6. Leg and arm extension

Lie across the stability ball on your belly and place your hands and toes on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs and lower back muscles while you steadily raise your right arm and left leg until parallel to the floor. Slowly lower and repeat on the other side.

7. Squats

Stand on a BOSU Balance Trainer and find your balance in front of a mirror. Extend your arms in front of you and sit back and down like you’re easing into an imaginary chair. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor, with your knees over your ankles. Keep your body tight and push through your heels to return to the starting position.

8. Superman

Lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you, palms down. Lift both feet and arms. Hold, then release.

9. Foam roller balancing

Lie longwise on a foam roller with your tail on one end, head on the other and feet about hip-width apart. Lift one knee so your calf is parallel to the floor while lifting the opposite arm so straight up so your fingers are pointing at the ceiling. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

These adult scoliosis exercises can help build your core strength, improve your balance and posture, and support your scoliosis treatment program.

Helpful Tools for Adult Scoliosis Exercises

ScoliSMART Activity Suit (SAS): What if you could turn every movement you make into an effective treatment for scoliosis? If you are walking, it is working! That’s what the ScoliSMART Activity Suit does. Wearing it during your workout (and even when you’re going about your daily activities) can help retrain your body to automatically correct your posture. It provides active resistance while you move to help retrain your brain and muscles to reduce spinal curves.

Many times exercise for scoliosis seems harder—especially with scoliosis pain. The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t do anything that feels bad.

“Listen to your body,” says fitness trainer Carol Ann. “You do want to feel like your muscles are working, but you don’t want to work through the pain. To gauge by that.”

Having the right equipment available can help. Supporting your spine’s weak areas and in some cases even enhancing the effectiveness of your exercises. Below are a few devices that are especially helpful for people with scoliosis.

  • Stability ball: Specific exercises performed on a stability ball are helpful in strengthening the back and abdominal muscles. The ball provides balance and support for your spine while you work out. This is particularly helpful for mild scoliosis and should not be used with scoliosis bracing.
  • BOSU Balance Trainer: Exercising while standing on this dome-shaped device adds an element of instability to your workout, engaging the muscles responsible for stabilizing and balancing the spine. Make sure to promote correct posture at all times and the body remains in a neutral position.
  • Wedges: Exercising with training wedges can provide extra support where you need it, especially if you have multiple spinal curvatures. Depending on the type of scoliosis this can be very helpful in the thoracic spine or upper body spine curves.
  • Foam roller: A foam roller is helpful for improving balance while you perform core-strengthening exercises. This should not be used with a spinal brace.

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Scoliosis Exercises for Long-Term Treatment

While simple stretches such as these can temporarily relieve scoliosis pain, they are not a long-term treatment.

There are, however, specific exercises that achieve long-term results by retraining the brain to counteract the spine’s abnormal curvature.

The key is to use involuntary exercises — movements the body makes automatically in response to certain stimuli. For example, the ScoliSMART Activity Suit places small amounts of weight on the head, torso, and pelvis that trick the brain into perceiving a different balancing point for that part of your child’s body. The brain sends out an automatic response to re-balance the body, which in turn causes the entire spine to realign.

Clinical studies have proven ScoliSMART’s exercise program effective at stopping curve progression and reducing spinal curvature, all without the trauma and risks of bracing or surgery.

Treatment Solutions for All Ages

Pain and limited flexibility do not have to stop you from living your best life. Clinical testing, appropriate nutrient therapies, and a dynamic exercise and rehabilitation program will prevent pain and limit curve progression. 

How important is proper form when doing scoliosis exercises?

Proper form is crucial when doing scoliosis exercises as incorrect posture can worsen the condition. It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider or physical therapist to ensure exercises are done correctly, maintaining alignment and preventing injury while strengthening muscles to support the spine.