Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a common condition which affects the spine and can cause severe pain and physical or psychological discomfort. Regardless of age, scoliosis is a curvature that forms an ‘S’ or a ‘C’, which can often worsen over time if left untreated. Fortunately, therapy can be an effective treatment option for patients of all ages- but when should therapy begin for children, especially those with the most common type? In this blog, we will explore the benefits of therapy for scoliosis, the factors to consider when deciding the best therapy treatment plan for each patient, and how therapy can help patients to manage their pain and improve their quality of life.

Physical Therapy for Scoliosis

What is Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS)?

If you’re a parent of a child who is diagnosed with AIS, it’s important to know when physical therapy should be started. Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spinal rotation resulting in a coil or twisted bending pattern. It can occur at any age, but it’s more common in female children and teens. Physical therapy is used to help improve posture and reduce pain related to the condition, including bad posture. Early diagnosis and intervention are key for successful treatment of AIS in children! If you’re unsure if your child has scoliosis, be sure to consult a healthcare provider. In the meantime, physical therapy can help your child improve their posture and reduce the amount of pain they experience.

PT Evaluation for AIS

For children with AIS, physical therapy is an important step in managing the condition. A therapist will assess your child’s spine and help create an individualized treatment plan to improve posture, mobility, flexibility, strength and endurance. PT exercises (Schroth method) should be done regularly for the best results – ideally at least twice a week for 6-12 weeks if possible to promote proper growth of the spine!

The ScoliSMART approach is a more modernized version of therapy for scoliosis. Unlike the Schroth method type of therapy, scoliosis-specific exercises require both specialized equipment and a knowledgeable doctor. The first step is to reduce the curve rigidity, which loosens up the spine. The patient then performs specific-exercises using weighted equipment to recruit new muscle memory. Because the exercises are intense and require daily repetition over a long period of time, immersive treatment programs like “Scoliosis Boot Camp” have the best success at jumpstarting a patient’s home training routine.

Bootcamp scoliosis

ScoliSMART programs include:

Scoliosis BootCamp: Designed for patients with curves 25 degrees or larger, this 10-day moderate intensity treatment program gives patients the opportunity to gain a handle on their scoliosis curvature while providing them with homecare equipment and instructions, timelines, and re-evaluation points to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.

Small Curve Camp: Patients with curves smaller than 25 degrees can opt for a more proactive treatment rather than waiting to see how far the curves will progress before taking action. This 5-day program combines scoliosis exercises with gentle cyclical traction equipment to lower the risk of developing a more severe spinal deformity. Patients receive detailed timelines, homecare protocols and treatment goals.

ScoliSMART BootCamp

To learn more about how to treat the whole condition and not only the curve, connect with our passionate providers at ScoliSMART. To explore a non-brace/ non-surgical treatment for your child’s scoliosis problem, you may  with a ScoliSMART doctor. Please get in touch with us today!

Some therapists and ScoliSMART doctors have specialized training in treating scoliosis treatment

When it comes to treating mild scoliosis, moderate or even severe curves, physical therapists and ScoliSMART doctors have the specialized training and experience to help your child. They will assess the severity of the curvature, the child’s posture, strength, balance, range of motion, flexibility and coordination of movements through a physical examination. Based on this information, the physical therapist will design a personalized program that includes physical exercises and stretches. Early intervention is key – physical therapy can help slow down or even stop progression of curvature over time.

What is scoliosis and what causes it?

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves sideways, forming an “S” or “C” shape. It can be caused by various factors such as genetics, muscle imbalances, and neuromuscular conditions. Early detection and treatment are crucial for children to prevent further progression of the curvature.

Advantages of Physical Therapy for Scoliosis

There are a number of reasons why physical therapy is an effective treatment for scoliosis in children. Physical therapy helps to improve the quality of life by reducing pain and improving posture and balance. It also helps to strengthen the muscles that support posture and balance, and can prevent further curve progression. Physical therapy sessions should be tailored specifically to the needs of the child, in order to get the most benefit. If you’re a parent of a child with a curve, seeking physical therapy can help to improve their quality of life and reduce pain levels.


Types of Scoliosis Exercises

Physical therapy for scoliosis comes in many forms, with a variety of different approaches to treating the disorder. These can include:

  • Focusing on breathing mechanics and function
  • Using mirror-image exercises to balance out the curves
  • Incorporating anti-scoliosis postures into normal daily activities
  • Performing “reflexive response” exercises to retrain the brain and muscles

While they all have different goals, most of these types of scoliosis exercises are voluntary, which means they’re performed intentionally. Reflexive response exercises, on the other hand, occur when the body moves automatically in response to scoliosis-specific exercise messages; movements like carrying a purse or wearing glasses become habitual within the brain. Because posture control is an involuntary habit, the only scoliosis rehabilitation treatment that can effectively halt progression consists of reflexive response exercises that help the patient form new postural habits.

Reflexive response scoliosis exercises involve placing small amounts of weight on the head, torso and pelvis. The patient then performs specific movements that help the brain perceive a different center of balance within the body, which triggers the brain to re-balance the posture and realign the spine. These scoliosis exercises aim to:

  • Stop or slow progression and spinal deformities
  • Reduce and stabilize cobb angle of the existing curve
  • Improve function and cosmetic appearance of rib cage rotation
  • Eliminate the need for invasive bracing or surgical treatment 

The reflexive response approach works on every adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patient, regardless of age or curve measurements — although it’s most effective for children with curves below 30 degrees. With early intervention and the use of reflexive response scoliosis exercises, mild curves can often be reduced to less than 10 degrees, and larger curves will most likely never reach 30 degrees. Note: Reflexive response exercises are not intended for the conservative treatment of neuromuscular (muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy) or congenital scoliosis.

Online consultation scheduling is available!

Now it’s even easier to connect with ScoliSMART. Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation phone or Zoom consultation online with a ScoliSMART physician. Visit the ScoliSMART BootCamp page and click the “Schedule Online” button at the top of the page. Then select the best date and time to connect with a physician. !

Online consultation scheduling is available

How Physical Therapy Can Treat Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, which can cause pain and mobility problems. Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment for scoliosis, and can help improve the posture and reduce pain. Physical therapy can also help improve the range of motion in the spine and improve the range of motion of the arms and legs. In addition to physical therapy, specialized equipment may be used to target specific muscles groups affected by scoliosis. Regular monitoring of the progression is important to ensure successful long-term results. If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of scoliosis, physical therapy is an excellent treatment option to consider, especially when targeting the muscles near the shoulder blade. When choosing a physical therapy program, it’s important to remember that not all treatments are equal. While many can help alleviate the pain associated with scoliosis, reflexive response exercises are the only method proven effective at impeding the progression of spinal curves with out spinal surgery.

Correct Body Mechanics

Kids with scoliosis need to exercise the correct body mechanics in order to reduce pain, reduce spine rotation, and improve posture. Physical therapy can help teach them how to use their muscles correctly, while also strengthening them. Through physical therapy sessions that are specifically tailored for kids with scoliosis, they can learn proper positioning and stretching techniques that will keep the spine in alignment and prevent further curvature of the spine. Additionally, support groups such as the Scoliosis Association UK can provide emotional support and helpful resources for children with scoliosis.

Chiropractic adjustments (based on X-ray findings) are important for helping mobilize the spine and improve curve flexibility. Doing these every day will help ensure long-term results for your child who has been diagnosed with AIS.

Stabilize the Spine

Physical therapy is a crucial part of treatment and can help to stabilize the spine, even in severe cases that require a type of surgery called a spinal fusion. Exercise, stretching and postural correction techniques are all used to improve spinal alignment and reduce pain. Therapy also helps to strengthen core muscles that support the back, providing better balance and stability in everyday life. When done properly, physical therapy can be very effective for children with a curve – helping them feel more comfortable in their own body image and improving their quality of life overall.

Stabilize the Spine

Create new posture memory

Physical therapy is a great way to help patients create new posture memory and reduce pain. This can prevent further cobb angle progression leading to severe scoliosis. Various exercises like stretches, physical therapy strengthening sessions and postural correction can be done under guidance of a physical therapist.

This treatment modality has been found to be most effective when it’s started early enough on in someone’s life- helping them to maintain their health and mobility as they age. Thus, it becomes essential for parents with children who are suffering from AIS in the United States to seek out professional help as soon as possible to create new posture memory and prevent potential issues in the lower back.

How Does Physical Therapy Help Scoliosis Patients?

Physical therapy is an important part of treatment and can help reduce pain, improve mobility, and reduce the risk of long-term complications from the condition. For children with a spinal curvature, physical therapy often focuses on improving posture and mobilizing the spine. This is done through exercises such as stretching, standing postures, and other core exercises. It’s also important to keep the child’s spine in a neutral position when performing these exercises to avoid any further curvature of the spine. In addition to physical therapy, patients of all ages often receive recommendations for surgery or bracing. Physical therapy is an important part of treatment, as it helps to mobilize the spine and improve posture. It can also help strengthen weakened muscle groups and reduce pain associated with the condition. With physical therapy, children with a curve can improve their mobility and reduce their risk of long-term complications from the condition.

Treatment tools: active and passive

Progression of scoliosis can cause back pain and physical limitations. Treatment options include passive and active exercise programs, with the latter being more successful in preventing recurrences.

Passive treatment methods involve exercises done by the physical therapist to improve flexibility including stretching, massage, and heat/cold therapy. Active treatment methods require an individual to actively participate in the exercises such as aerobic exercise, strengthening with weights or resistance bands, and postural re-education techniques. Both are essential components of a comprehensive treatment plan that should be tailored specifically for each patient’s needs.

Active rehab vs a Brace

Physical therapy is a great way to treat scoliosis in children, especially when the curve of the spine is still developing. PT can help to improve the alignment of the spine, reduce pain, and improve physical function, none of which are accomplished with a back brace. With the help of a physical therapist and a scoliosis specialist, scoliosis physical therapy can be done at any age, but the earlier it is started the more successful it can be. So if you have a child with a curve, don’t hesitate to seek physical therapy treatment right away, even for older children, to get the best results.


is committed to treating the WHOLE condition, not only the curve. Genetic & clinical testing with targeted nutrient therapies, expert in-office treatment programs, and the world’s only ScoliSMART Activity Suit provides patients of all ages with the most comprehensive, most effective, and least invasive treatment options available worldwide.