Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Fast Facts on Scoliosis

Scoliotic curves of 10° or less affect 3-5 out of every 1,000 people

Scoliosis usually occurs in those older than 10 years, but the condition can be seen in infants
2% of women and 0.5% of men are affected by Scoliosis.

The prevalence of curves less than 20° is about equal in males and females.

85% of the time the cause is unknown. The other 15% of cases fall into two categories: Nonstructural and Structural.

Nonstructural is caused by a temporary condition such as one leg being shorter than the other due to a muscle spasm.

Structural is caused by another disease such as a birth defect, connective tissue disorder, muscular dystrophy, metabolic diseases or *Marfan Syndrome.

* Marfran Syndrome is disorder of connective tissue, the tissue that strengthens the body's structures. Disorders of connective tissue affect the skeletal system, cardiovascular system, eyes, and skin.

Benefits of Pilates for Scoliosis
Written by: Angelie Melzer, BS, CPT

Pilates utilizes specific exercises to reeducate the movement patterns of an individual. Therefore, a specialized plan can be put into place for each client. This is ideal for Scoliotic clientele.

When living with Scoliosis, an individual gets into certain patterns of movement caused by the curves and rotation in their spine. In addition, these clients have muscular imbalances caused by the curvatures.

A specific example is with an S curve. Most of the time with an S curve, the main curve is seen in the Lumbar Spine. As the Lumbar Portion of the spinal column is pulled in one direction due to the tightening of the concave side of the curve, the muscles on the convex side become too long and are weakened. Their is then a compensatory curve in the spine, most of the time in the thoracic cage. This curve many times comes with a rotational pattern as well. All of these factors cause the spinal column to become immobile. It is key to keep these individual's spines as "fluid" as possible to avoid future problems from occurring such as disc and compression issues.

The Scoliotic client must utilize specific stretching in the concave portions and strengthening in the convex portions of their spines. They also need overall lubrication of the spinal column due to the nature of Scoliosis and the rotational patterns that are often present. Pilates exercises focus on lengthening of the spine; along with the principal of Spinal Sequencing inherent in most Pilates exercises. The control that is taught by these techniques and Pilates Exercises are extremely beneficial.

(References: National Scoliosis Foundation, Scroth Method, Emedicine Health.)

Scoliotic clients become deconditioned on the convex side of their curvature due to the continual line of pull from the muscles on the concave side. Therefore, hands on cueing is very important. The client's muscles must be touched/palpated on the convex side to aid them in contracting.

Pilates Mat Program for Scoliotic Clients

Below is a general protocol for a Pilates Mat exercise program for clients with Scoliosis. (Please note that each Scoliotic curve is unique and specific protocol will vary with each client.)


Pelvic Lift
(Modification: Place a small prop underneath the convex side. Cue the client to press into the prop to heighten the awareness of movement away from the concavity.)

Pelvic Lift with a Wag Side to Side

Roll Up
(Focus on Spinal Sequencing and lengthening of the spine.)

Kneeling Cat

Standing Roll Down
(Modification: Press gently into the muscles on the convex side to allow these muscles to "awaken" and contract during movement.)


(Modification: Press gently into the convex muscles to aid them in the contraction during the extension portion of the exercise.)

Side Lying: Banana Lift
(Perform this exercise lying on the concave side first. On the concave side, focus on keeping the ribs up away from the mat. Lift both legs and hold for 10 seconds. Roll over onto the convex side. On the convex side, do not lift the legs. Instead, lift the upper body by pressing down through the supporting arm and lengthening the upper body towards the ceiling, thus lengthening the convex musculature.)

No comments: