The Best Back Exercises for Scoliosis

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Camel pose is a great exercise for scoliosis.
Image Credit: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages

Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in the spine that typically develops early, when adolescents are growing quickly. In fact, you might remember being screened for this condition when the school nurse had you bend forward while she looked at your spine. A scoliosis workout can help correct this issue.

The underlying cause of most cases of scoliosis is unknown, or idiopathic, as explained in a 2015 article published by Scoliosis. However, scoliosis can also develop later in life and occur with medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. Scoliosis can be mild, or be so severe that it impacts your internal organs.

In some cases, scoliosis can improve with exercise, as discussed in the Scoliosis article. However, severe cases might need surgery. This condition also affects the spine differently between individuals — so the best exercises for scoliosis can vary. For optimal results, perform your scoliosis workout under the direction of a physical therapist.

Read more: Can You Reverse Scoliosis With Exercise?

General Scoliosis Workout

Scoliosis exercises target the affected area of your spine. Most commonly, this condition occurs in the mid-to-lower back. Exercises focus on stretching tight muscles in the spine, as recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and strengthening ones that are weak.

Trying Back Stretches

According to Princeton University Athletic Medicine, back stretches might be uncomfortable, but you should never stretch to the point of pain. Do these exercises daily.

Move #1: Cat/Camel

  1. Begin on your hands and knees.
  2. Inhale slowly, arch your back upward and tuck in your chin.
  3. Hold for three seconds.
  4. Exhale and let your belly drop toward the ground.
  5. At the same time, tilt your chin up toward the ceiling.
  6. Repeat five times.

Move #2: Double Knee to Chest

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bend your knees, bringing them in toward your chest.
  3. Place your hands behind your knees and gently pull them closer to your chest.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your legs back down.
  6. Repeat three times.

If this exercise bothers your back, stretch one knee to your chest at a time.

Strengthening Your Core

In addition to targeting the weak muscles in your back, strengthening your abdominal muscles also helps to support your spine.

Move #1: Abdominal Bracing

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
  3. Place your hands on your hips.
  4. Tighten your lower abs as if you are pulling your belly button toward the ground. You should feel the muscles under your fingertips tighten.
  5. Hold for a slow count of 10 and repeat five times.

Read more: Exercises to Avoid With Scoliosis

Move #2: Bird Dog

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with hands positioned in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
  2. Keep your neck straight by looking at the ground between your hands.
  3. Lift your right arm straight out in front of you.
  4. Hold for two to three seconds, then slowly lower back down.
  5. Repeat with the opposite arm.
  6. Lift your right leg straight out behind you.
  7. Hold for two to three seconds, then slowly lower back down.
  8. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Keep your back flat throughout this exercise by maintaining abdominal bracing. As strength improves, lift opposite arms and legs at the same time.

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