Scoliosis, or a curvature of the spine, is something a lot of people have to a more or lesser degree. Many people aren’t even aware that they may have a scoliosis. If that is you, then you have nothing to worry about. Don’t fix what ain’t broke, right? If you are aware of your spine’s unnatural curve then you have probably experienced some discomfort as a result of it. The discomfort is usually in the form of generalized back pain/discomfort and poor (to atrocious) posture.
Katharina Schroth developed her own method for working with scoliosis at her clinic in Bad Sobernheim, Germany. Her first booklet on the subject was printed in 1924. There are many clinical studies proving the efficacy of her method at this site: http://bit.ly/5nmrgE. Suffice it to say here, in this brief blog, that the method has proven more efficient than any treatment to date including most surgeries and/or bracing.
Here’s what it is all about. First you have to figure out which direction your curves are pushing. So when you look at the x-ray above, you see two curves: one, in the low back making the left tip of the pelvis hike up and the second, higher in the rib cage. If the x-ray showed the entire spine you would see a third curve in the upper back neck area. Let’s assume that your spine looks just like the one in the x-ray (which by the way is the most common pattern for scoliosis).
When working in the Schroth Method the first thing you do is not to exercise to correct the shape of the spine but instead you correct the shape of the spine first and then perform exercises within that corrected alignment to help your musculature hold that new and corrected position. Make sense?
Okay, lie on your back; it’s alignment time. Your knees are up and the soles of your feet are down. Place your thumbs on your hips. Do you see how your right thumb is higher than your left? (Remember, we are assuming you have the same scoliosis as the one in the picture). Push that right hip BACK toward the floor. It’s okay to over-correct at first. Now look at your hips again. Do you see how your right hip is kind of hiked up and closer to the ribs than on the left side? Push it DOWN and away. Or in other words, you are creating more space between the right ribs and the right hip. Lastly, push your right hip directly to the right SIDE. Imagine you are lying an inch away from a wall and you are trying to push that right hip into that wall. Got it? So you’ve moved that right hip BACK, DOWN and SIDE.
Now you are going to do the same thing focusing on the left rib cage. Push the left ribs BACK toward the floor. Now push the ribs to the left SIDE. You can still imagine that wall but now it is one inch away from your left rib cage. Push into it. Lastly, stretch UP lifting your left ribcage towards your left ear. Make sure it is not your shoulder you are lifting: it may go along for the ride but it may not do the primary work. So you have moved the left ribcage BACK, UP and SIDE.
Now hold this position. For the rest of your life. See how easy that is?? Not easy at all. I have a scoliosis and I practice this posture ALL the time, especially when I am in the car. Once you can memorize ‘Right Hip: BACK, DOWN and SIDE. Left Rib: BACK, UP and SIDE’, you’ll have made a great start. When you get into the position hold it for three deep breaths. Build your way up to holding the position for 10 deep breaths. Practice that for a week or two and then let me know when you’ve got it and I’ll add some exercises for you to add onto it. Let me know if you have any questions because I know it is pretty confusing.
Good luck with this Alli. I know it will help. It may not feel like it at first. Your muscles will more than likely be sore. But it is worth it. As we get older, unless we do something about it the scoliosis may continue to collapse and create a more magnified curve.
I have written a book that uses the principles of three-dimensional alignment and applied it to the Pilates method that I have been working with for years. I have attempted to make it as user-friendly as possible so that you can do this on your own at home. Half of the exercises are on the Pilates equipment and half are on the mat. If you have a Pilates instructor in your area that focuses on post-rehabilitation she/he should be able to help you if you run into problems. The link to the book is here: http://bit.ly/hUj2PL
Best of health, Karena