Scoliosis is a medical condition involving sideways curvatures of the spine. When looking at the spine from behind a scoliotic spine makes either an “S” or “C” shape instead of a straight vertical line. Scoliosis usually begins in adolescence but may also develop in adulthood. A diagnosis can be confirmed by an X-ray that demonstrates lateral deviations of ten degrees or more. However, even smaller non-scoliotic curvatures may be a source of physical discomfort.
The cause of most scoliosis is unknown but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors and can be related to neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Structural Scoliosis refers to structural changes in the vertebrae that create a “fixed” curvature. Functional Scoliosis is essentially a severe muscular imbalance as the underlying spine is physically normal. Scoliosis is often a combination of the two.
The lateral curves that characterize scoliosis are accompanied by rotations in the sagittal and transverse planes, causing the spine to spiral and alter the transmission of forces from head to toe. These 3-dimensional rotations appear as one hip higher than the other, uneven shoulders and prominent ribs on one side. The physical imbalances can cause pain in the low back, ribcage and neck and well as nerve symptoms down one leg. Pilates can help relieve the physical pain and spasming that can result from scoliosis by unwinding these 3 dimension spirals through elongation of the spine, centering the torso and creating more muscular balance throughout the body as a whole.
Pilates teaches exercises that create natural length in the spine through muscular engagement, so the spine can be “pulled” out of these spirals. The curves themselves also must be directly addressed as there is often muscular hypertrophy on the long side of the curve due to the body trying to right itself. Pilates teachers are trained to teach with the specificity that is necessary for correcting and managing the curvatures. Once the deviations are lessened then the core is strengthened to help “set” the changes. A functional/muscular scoliosis will respond very successfully to a Pilates program. A structural scoliosis cannot be undone but can be to be managed very effectively with Pilates so that painful muscular compensations don’t get out of control.
At Mongoose Bodyworks we have helped clients with both structural and functional scoliosis with great success. We have brought our clients much relief and improved well being. Please contact us with any questions you may have about your body.