Slouching is common among teenagers and adults. However, a rounded upper back can also be a sign of Scheuermann's disease -- a condition that begins in adolescence and leads to an abnormal curve in the spine. This condition commonly causes low back pain in adulthood.
Although Pilates exercises can't reverse this condition, they can help decrease pain, strengthen your back muscles and improve mobility. Talk to your doctor before performing Pilates exercises if you have Scheuermann's disease.
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Spine deformities that occur with Scheuermann's disease can put pressure on your lungs and make it difficult to breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing is a Pilates technique that can improve your breathing.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and a pillow under your neck to relieve pressure on your spine. Place one hand on your lower belly.
Slowly take a deep breath in. Concentrate on the air filling your chest first, then the bottom of your lungs, belly and down to your pelvis. Your ribs should expand expand side-to-side and your belly should rise slightly.
Slowly breathe out, releasing air from the bottom up, in the reverse order that you took the breath in. Repeat this process for several breaths. Practice diaphragmatic breathing in sitting and standing positions once you have mastered the technique.
Range of Motion
Scheuermann's disease causes excessive forward bending of the spine. Pilates exercises that target extension -- backward bending of the spine -- can improve flexibility with this condition. The Pilates swan exercise improves extension.
Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat. Bend your elbows and bring your forearms under your chest. Position your hands directly below your shoulders.
Tighten your core muscles by pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Inhale and slowly straighten your arms as far as possible while keeping your hips on the ground. Do not stretch to the point of pain.
As you exhale, slowly bend your elbows and lower your torso back down to the ground. Repeat three to five times, with perfect form.
Exercises alone won't decrease excessive spine curves that occur with Scheuermann's disease. However, exercises are often prescribed in combination with bracing to strengthen muscles that help keep the spine aligned.
Pilates core-strengthening exercises can be performed in many different positions. However, with Scheuermann's disease, pain often increases while lying on your back. Consider exercising using a stability ball for cushioning.
Sit up straight on a stability ball with your feet flat on the ground. Tighten your core muscles by pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Keep these muscles tight throughout the movement.
Slowly walk your feet forward. The ball will roll up your back as you step your feet farther out. Stop when the ball is just below your shoulder blades.
Interlock your fingers behind your head and inhale. Slowly exhale, tuck your chin, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your shoulder blades off the ball.
Inhale while your chest is still lifted, then slowly lower your upper body back down to rest on the ball.
Perform six to eight times with perfect form.
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Some Pilates exercises can increase pain with Scheuermann's disease -- particularly if they involve lying on your back or excessive forward bending. Discuss your condition with your exercise instructor or healthcare professional to determine which Pilates exercises are most appropriate for you if you have this condition.