When scoliosis starts causing pain, many patients find relief through stretching.
Stretching with scoliosis can help alleviate back by releasing tension in the muscles surrounding the spine. It also increases blood flow and lubrication in the joints, which helps keep the body limber.
While a normal spine moves from side to side—while walking, for example—“people with scoliosis can bend only in one direction and are unable to access movement in the opposite direction,” says Rocky Snyder, a personal trainer, and corrective exercise specialist. As you determine which side of your body lacks elasticity, you can focus your stretching on that area to help relieve discomfort, improve flexibility and increase your range of motion.
But keep in mind that scoliosis back stretches can work counter-intuitively. While stretching in the opposite direction of your spinal curve would seem to make sense, it does little to impact the source of the pain (postural imbalance). Stretching further in the direction your already spine bends, on the other hand, can cause the elongated muscles to pull back and shorten a bit, which helps balance out your posture.
Pain-Relieving Stretches for Mild Scoliosis
Below are some simple scoliosis stretches you can do at home or in the gym to temporarily relieve back pain. Stretching with scoliosis is most beneficial when done on a regular basis, so start with a few times a week, and work your way up.
Begin by holding each stretch for 30 seconds and repeating it two or three times. As the stretches become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend in each one.
1. Chest Stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms in front of your chest. Pull your arms backward and press your shoulder blades together, stretching the chest.
2. Right-Angle Wall Stretch
Place your hands on a wall at shoulder level, shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back until they’re directly under your hips. Push your palms into the wall, lengthening your spine. Keep your lower back tucked in and arms straight.