Scoliosis is a unique medical condition that can have a severe impact on the patient’s quality of life. It affects between six and nine million people in the USA or about two to three percent of the population.
There are a few different treatments for scoliosis, and a doctor will recommend one of the following depending on the severity of the case:
Surgery would be recommended in more extreme cases. A combination of bracing and exercise is often used among adolescents and adults with less severe scoliosis. The most effective type of exercise is known as Schroth Therapy, which can prove to be very beneficial to many patients.
So, let’s dive deeper into this therapy and see whether it’s a treatment you should discuss with your doctor.
What Is Schroth Physical Therapy?
Schroth therapy was developed by Katharina Schroth in 1921. The German physiotherapist herself had scoliosis, and the exercises she developed were based on her own experiences.
The focus of the majority of Schroth exercises is to boost muscle strength and posture. Katharina put a strong emphasis on adopting proper breathing techniques as well. Different breathing techniques will affect the movement of the ribs differently, so each patient will receive individual instructions based on their own scoliosis.
Scoliosis is often described as a C or an S curvature of the spine. However, it’s more 3-dimensional and often resembles a spiral shape rather than a C or S shape. What this means is that the treatments shouldn’t focus on correcting the spine from one angle but all of them.
That is precisely why proper breathing is so crucial in Schroth therapy. While exercises affect the spine from the outside, breathing affects it from the inside. Together, breathing and exercises approach scoliosis in a 3-dimensional way and offer a complete treatment.
How Can Schroth Therapy Treat Scoliosis?
Schroth therapy is very similar to other types of muscle strengthening exercises. Patients with scoliosis need to work on strengthening the muscles around the spine so that the vertebrae can be well-supported.
It’s also essential to work on the core (abdominal) muscles to improve posture and help straighten the spine from front to back.
By strengthening the weakened muscles and releasing tension from the overused ones, Schroth therapy effectively fights scoliosis.
However, it’s important to note that this therapy isn’t a cure for scoliosis. It aims to prevent further degeneration of the spine.
Schroth method practitioners aim to help their patients:
There currently isn’t a cure for scoliosis in a traditional sense. Most treatments aim to prevent the condition from getting worse, not eliminate scoliosis in its entirety.
Schroth Therapy for Adolescents
Schroth therapy has proven to be the most effective treatment for scoliosis in adolescence. The human spine normally stops developing and growing by the age of 18. So adolescents typically have better spinal flexibility, which allows for exercises to be more productive.
Schroth therapy is often recommended in cases where the curvature of the spine is between 10 and 30 degrees. The smaller the curvature, the more useful this treatment becomes.
Scoliosis is usually expected to progress when the curvature of the spine is over 20 degrees. Schroth method will likely be paired with other treatments if a child or adolescent has a stronger case of scoliosis.
Schroth Therapy for Adults
Once the spine is already fully developed, it loses a lot of its flexibility. Therefore, Schroth Therapy comes with a somewhat different approach for adults.
Adults will focus mostly on becoming more aware of their posture and correcting it as much as possible. An emphasis will be placed on improving mobility and ensuring better control of movements during regular daily activities.
Even in more severe cases where improving posture is almost impossible, Schroth therapy can still be beneficial for adults. It can help with improving lung capacity and relieving pain and can promote better balance.
Adults will often need a more customized approach that helps with treating their specific condition.
Schroth Therapy and Scoliosis Brace
This therapy is often paired with other scoliosis treatments such as bracing. The combined treatment is the most effective in children and adolescents.
Wearing a scoliosis brace tends to be uncomfortable, and Schroth therapy can help to develop proper breathing techniques, which will allow children to get used to the brace. Doctors with Schroth method certification will develop a custom plan that will ensure exercises can be comfortably performed with braces.
A combination of scoliosis brace and Schroth therapy exercises can serve to prevent surgery. However, long-term commitment is necessary to ensure success.
Types of Schroth Therapy Exercises
As previously mentioned, Schroth Therapy involves personalized exercises. Each person’s scoliosis is different, and not all types of exercises will be beneficial to all patients. Some can even result in more considerable pain and discomfort.
With this in mind, most Schroth therapy exercises follow some similar steps. The first step is correcting the position of the pelvis. It’s easier to achieve better balance and posture when patients start from the bottom up, adjusting their feet, knees, then pelvis.
The next step involves adjusting the rib cage. That is achieved by standing in a specific position and adopting proper breathing techniques.
Lastly, it’s crucial to properly align the patient’s head and neck above the ribs.
Most Schroth exercises make use of a variety of props such as belts and straps, and many look more like stretching rather than exercising.
While anyone can easily find instructions for Schroth exercises online, you should never follow them without consulting your doctor. You’ll risk hurting yourself and worsening your condition. Only do these exercises with the supervision of a practitioner with Schroth method certification!
Schroth therapy can immensely help with pain relief and posture. However, it’s important to note that it requires constant commitment from the patients for the best results. You’ll need to do these exercises both during the therapy and at home.
Make sure to find the right Schroth method practitioner before you attempt any of these exercises.