Pilates, Scoliosis, and the Schroth Method

With so many Pilates courses teaching prescriptive exercises for clients with scoliosis, you would imagine there is a magnitude of supportive research behind them. While there are plenty of studies on prevention of curve progression in adolescents using bracing and Scoliosis Specific Exercise (SSE), there is little if no research to guide movement prescription for the adolescent and adult scoliosis client during fitness activities such as Pilates.

The Scoliosis Research Society has recently recognized the Schroth Method and other schools of scoliosis specific exercise (SSE) as viable conservative physical therapy treatment options for patients with scoliosis. These curve specific corrective therapies for scoliosis are restricted in their scope of practice to physical therapists, and do not address exercise for fitness. We can, however, use the research that has informed the principles behind these therapies to help guide movement prescription for the Pilates client.

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Many adults with scoliosis choose a Pilates – based program to maintain fitness. There is an impression that Pilates will limit destructive forces on their curves, compared to other exercise programs. These impressions are based on Pilates’ emphasis on body awareness, breathing and neuromuscular re-education. Yet many Pilates instructors are unaware of the research describing the abnormal mechanics of the scoliosis spine during movement. While each scoliosis client must be individually evaluated for risk, curves more than 20 degrees may be heavily impacted by these abnormal mechanics caused by intra-vertebral torsion, lateral wedging and anterior spinal overgrowth. Many adult clients may also have other spine constraints, such as stenosis, arthritis and pain due to asymmetrical load on the spine over time.

Pilates Adaptations for Scoliosis Based on Teachings of the Schroth Method applies some of the principles behind the Schroth Method and other SSE to decisions about how to modify Pilates exercises for the scoliosis client. The course is designed to bridge a wide knowledge gap which can only positively impact the scoliosis client who wants to maintain fitness while minimizing the destructive forces on his/her spine.

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Lise Stolze, MPT, DSc PMA®-CPT, is a Polestar Educator and owner of Stolze Therapies in Denver, CO. She has co-created Pilates Adaptations for Scoliosis Based on Teachings of the Schroth Method with Schroth Scoliosis Therapist and BSPTS educator Hagit Berdishevsky, PT, MSPT, DPT, Cert. MDT. Lise has been published with her research on Pilates and Low Back Pain. For more courses with Lise and for more information on this exciting new course, visit polestarpilates.com.

4 Replies to “Pilates, Scoliosis, and the Schroth Method”

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