Exercise and Scoliosis – How Can An Exercise Physiologist Help?

There are many causes of back pain; from lifting something heavy incorrectly, to an uncomfortable bed to an ongoing condition like, for example, Scoliosis of the spine. 

If left untreated, Scoliosis, which is where a curve develops in the spine, can lead to severe and ongoing back pain. 

When managing Scoliosis, it may seem logical to rest your spine but actually, targeted exercise is an integral part of both Scoliosis treatment and overall spine health.  

But you don’t need to do it alone! As Exercise Physiologists, we can help with your Scoliosis treatment plan using our understanding of the intricacies of the spine to create rehabilitation and pain management strategies. 

While we’re here, we’re going to delve a little deeper into Scoliosis treatment and provide you with some exercises you can do at home that will strengthen your spine and help to manage your Scoliosis pain. 


But first, what is Scoliosis? 

Scoliosis causes the spine to curve, rather than extend up in a straight line. From behind, a healthy spine will be predominantly straight up and down; a Scoliosis-affected spine will curve to one side. 

Like many conditions, there are varying levels of severity – it is thought that about half of all Australians live with mild, asymptomatic Scoliosis.

In children, Scoliosis of the spine usually appears in the upper part of their back as they hit puberty. For adults, as we age, our spine curves and the condition is more likely to present as lower back Scoliosis, in the lumbar spine. Important window for adolescent scoliosis treatment is in the window of growth period…

More severe forms of Scoliosis, such as lower back Scoliosis, can cause pain and weakness in your back. The condition may also change the way you walk or negatively impact your posture. 


What is the best way to manage Scoliosis? 

In mild cases of Scoliosis, your doctor will monitor your spine, sometimes via X-rays, to make sure the curve is not worsening. More severe forms may require Scoliosis treatment with a brace, or back surgery to correct the curve. 

At Restart, our Exercise Physiologists can provide you with support for any of these Scoliosis treatments; whether it’s an ongoing, at-home exercise plan to strengthen your back, or a post-surgery exercise rehab plan. 


How can an Exercise Physiologist help with Scoliosis? 

A great way to manage Scoliosis treatment is by developing and maintaining an exercise regime that strengthens your core and lower back muscles. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you have a sore back, your spine loves to move! Doing exercises that strengthen your core and postural muscles that insert in and around your spine will help to reduce associated pain. 

As Exercise Physiologists, we will tailor a specific exercise plan to your individual needs – for example, depending on whether you have lower back Scoliosis and if you are undergoing any other forms of treatment. We will work with you to ensure the plan fits in with both your schedule and your overall fitness goals.

We’ve written in detail about what an Exercise Physiologist does and what to expect when you visit us, in case you’d like more information. 


Exercises to support your spine

Each body is different, and each instance of Scoliosis of the spine will have slightly different requirements. 

Given the most common presentation of Scoliosis in adults is lower back Scoliosis, these exercises support your lower back through:

  • Targeting and strengthening muscles throughout your spine and ‘posterior’ (muscles of the back of your body);
  • Strengthening your core to create greater supportive ‘tension’ in and around the Scoliosis-affected part of your spine;
  • Improving your posture to support an ideal living position when standing and sitting.

Dead Bugs

How will this help my Scoliosis treatment?

This exercise will strengthen your lower back muscles,and strengthen your core muscles to provide additional support to your spine. 

How to perform Dead Bugs exercise:

  1. Lie flat on the floor, raise both of your legs up so that your knees are over your hips and bend your knees to be in line with the floor. Also raise your hands with you elbows over your shoulders. Push spine into floor.
  2. Slowly lower your right arm and left leg until they are just above the floor and then return to starting position. 
  3. Repeat with other side, slowly lower left arm and right leg until they are just above the floor and then return to starting position. 
  4. Repeat, alternating between sides. 


Bird Dog

How will this help my Scoliosis treatment? 

This exercise will improve your posture, strengthen your core muscles and provide additional support to your spine.

How to: Bird dog

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Check your alignment: your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips are over your knees. 
  2. Ground the fingers in your left hand down into the mat, as you lift your right hand straight in front of you as if you are shaking someone’s hand.
  3. At the same time, lift your left leg straight back just above the floor level. 
  4. Hold this position, maintaining a straight spine. 
  5. Repeat on the other side. 

Landmine Thruster

How will this help my Scoliosis treatment?

This exercise is a multijoint full body exercise that balances the body’s aligntment and strengthens the core and upper back. 

How to perform the banded pull apart exercise:

  1. Set up a barbell in a landmine attachment. Align feet in a wide squat position.
  2. Lift up barbell to chest height and hold with both hands
  3. Holding bar at chest height squat down and back up. On the way up press up with the bar until arms are straight, following the trajetory of the landmine. 
  4. Slowly bring the bar back to chest height. 
  5. Repeat

You hope you find these exercises useful as part of your Scoliosis treatment plan. If you’d like to learn more about how we can reduce your lower back Scoliosis pain, make an appointment with us today!

All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Restart can consult with you to confirm what is right for you.