Side Planking for Scoliosis

Side Planking for Scoliosis

by Dylan Bartley, MSPT, CMP

Researchers at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York produced some promising results in the treatment of scoliosis with just one simple exercise: a side plank. This common yoga pose was performed on the convex side of the curve. So if your scoliosis bows out to the right, you should put your right arm down and lift your right hip up off the floor. They offered variations to accommodate varying levels of fitness and different types of curves. The poses were held for as long as possible, once a day, starting at 10-20 seconds.

To measure the success of their intervention, they took x-rays before and afterwards and measured the degree of curvature in their subjects. After 6 months, they found a significant improvement of an average of 41%. They tried to see if there was a difference between younger subjects and older subjects with more degenerative changes and both groups responded well with no significant difference between the two groups.

Scoliosis is a problem of imbalance and asymmetry that tends to progress as we age and can lead to debilitating arthritis and muscle spasm if it goes unchecked. Over the years doctors have tried to stabilize it with complicated surgeries involving rods or uncomfortable braces. Physical therapists have tried to correct it with stretches and strengthening the core and spinal muscles. It would make sense that to treat this problem of asymmetry one would need to attack it with a set of asymmetrical exercises. Unfortunately, there has been little research to back up these hunches until now.

If you are interested in getting an assessment of your spine to see if you have scoliosis or if you’re ready to treat a scoliosis you’ve always known you’ve had, physical therapy is a great place to start. We can set up a custom protocol that would match your current level of fitness and show you how to progress things as you get stronger. Furthermore, structural factors such as a leg length discrepancy or pelvic/sacroiliac dysfunction can be the driving force behind your scoliosis and may be treatable with physical therapy.

To see the original article, click here

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Preventing Back Injuries

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Low back pain is so common because it is one of the most vulnerable parts of our body, absorbing lots of torque and strain during the multitude of repetitive movements or static postures we place ourselves in throughout the day. Above you can see examples of the most common pathologies of the lumbar spine. 

What do you do to treat or prevent low back pain?

  • For the first 3 days after the onset of pain: relative rest, ice and gentle, pain-free movement
  • Avoid twisting, rounding, side-bending. Move from your legs/hips more, such as squatting with a flat back to bend or pick something up from the floor, and move from your feet when turning
  • Think “Opposite”: will this movement arch my low back or round it? Then flatten or arch your back with pelvic tilt to do the opposite.
  • Strengthen the deep abdominal muscles or core: this should be done by finding “neutral spine” (position of the back where you feel the least amount of pain or discomfort). The concept here is to STABILIZE the trunk while moving the arms and legs…this puts the focus on an entirely different area. It’s no longer about how big a movement is or how much weight you can lift when doing leg or arm work, but about not moving the trunk by engaging your abdominals.
  • Think about your ergonomics and posture and what position your back may be in while you sit or drive. Use a pillow behind your low back when sitting.
  • Avoid any prolonged positions…if your low back is starting to feel tighter, it’s time to change position!
  • Talk to a physical therapist to walk you through these concepts and develop a customized program that will be specific to what kind of back pain you have.

by Ravi Lescher, MPT