Though people with Scheuermann’s disease are prohibited by a curve in their upper back from extensive twisting and bending, they can perform or modify some Pilates exercises to suit their abilities. Pilates strengthens the core, which promotes upright posture, flexibility and range of motion. Someone with Scheuermann’s can use that to alleviate some pain. Talk to your doctor before trying any new exercise to ensure you take the proper precautions specific to your needs.
Many Pilates exercises involve standing for long periods, twisting, or excessive spine flexing. None of that is easy for someone with Scheuermann’s. A report in the Pilates Fitness Journal says users can put a pillow under the head, neck, and shoulders during supine exercises. They can also use a step during bending exercises to reduce the severity of stretch in the hamstrings.
A traditional Pilates exercise like the Swan includes an inversion in the back that can put extra pressure on the lower back. A person with Scheuermann’s can do it from a sitting position. Sit with your spine as straight as possible. Put your palms behind your neck with your head facing up, and stretch your chest muscles backward until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, relax, and repeat four times if possible.
A Twist on the Back Stretch
The regular back stretches in Pilates, especially those that involve twisting, can put extra strain on a normal back. Someone with Scheuermann’s disease can modify a Pilates back stretch by standing tall with arms bent slightly in front of the chest, and then pushing his elbows behind him while gently squeezing the shoulder blades together. Try to hold it for two seconds, then release and repeat 15 to 20 times if possible.
Working the Hamstring
Modified hamstring stretches can loosen leg muscles without putting excessive pressure on the spine like regular Pilates exercises. To try one, stand up straight with your arms at your hips. Lift one leg onto a step or chair, but keep your knee and leg straight. Bend forward at the waist until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring. Hold it for 15 seconds and repeat four times if possible, then repeat on the opposite leg.