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If you've got scoliosis, then you know that the curvature in the spine can cause imbalance not just in the spinal area, but in the neck, shoulders, hips, and even knees. This can cause pain and discomfort. To help loosen things up, stretching is a good option. But you've got to know how to do it right. Read on to discover the best stretch for scoliosis to help you find relief.
In this article:
- What is scoliosis?
- Symptoms of scoliosis.
- The benefit of doing scoliosis exercises.
- The #1 best stretch for scoliosis and how to do it.
- The bottom line.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. When you look at someone's back, most of the time the spine will draw a straight line between the base of the head and the pelvis.
Someone who has scoliosis, however, will have a sideways curve that is formed by the spine. Looking at their back, the spine may look more like a "C" or an "S," rather than a straight line.
Because the spine is central to the foundation of our bodies, this kind of curvature sends everything off balance. Sometimes just a little bit (in mild cases) and other times quite a lot (in extreme cases).
The shoulders, the ribcage, the hips, and the knees, for example, will no longer stack evenly on top of each other. Instead, they can become quite skewed. In extreme cases, this asymmetry can put pressure on other parts of the body and cause issues down the line, such as knee problems.
Scoliosis often arises during growth spurts before puberty. But it can be seen in everyone from younger children to older people.
Symptoms of scoliosis
The main symptom of scoliosis is curvature in the spine. Fortunately, many people have only mild curvature and not any other symptoms.
However, severe spinal curvature can result in discomfort, pain, and other symptoms.
- Pain in the back, shoulders, hips, neck, etc.
- Muscle spasms.
- Physical deformity.
- Breathing issues, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
- Abdominal pain.
For some people, scoliosis pain can be extreme and disabling.
In order to find relief, scoliosis exercises like stretching can be great options.
The benefit of scoliosis exercises
Taking time to work with the muscles surrounding your spine can show some real positive benefit when it comes to scoliosis symptoms.
Scoliosis is usually permanent in adults, so you won't be able to straighten the spine out perfectly. But stretching can really help you to find relief from discomfort.
The right kind of stretching can help you:
- Balance out
- Relieve pain
- Stop constant spasming
- Work towards better posture
- Loosen muscles
- Prevent future issues in the hips, knees, etc.
And for young people and children, stretching is even more effective. Stretches are great to do when a person is young because they can help stop scoliosis from getting worse or even reverse it.
However, a lot of people make mistakes when it comes to stretches for scoliosis. To really get the best relief possible, you will want to know the absolute best stretch for scoliosis. And it might not be what you would first guess.
The #1 best stretch for scoliosis
As I have mentioned, there are lots of misconceptions about what is the best way to stretch for scoliosis.
Most people think that when you stretch, you should stretch in the direction that makes your spine move closer to a straight line. However, you should actually do the opposite. This is likely against what your instincts might be.
You actually want to bend towards the other side, so that you are stretching into the concavity. While you are stretching, you should be exaggerating the curve. You want to stretch into the concave part of the "C" or "S" shape, not away from it.
With scoliosis, the muscles on the concave side of the curve will be tight, pulling the curve tighter. The muscles on the other side will be looser. When we stretch with the curve, as described above, we stretch the muscles on the loose side. This actually sends a little neurological signal to the tight muscles on the opposite side, telling them to relax. Those electrical signals are key to finding relief.
Stretching into and with the curvature may seem counterintuitive, but it's actually the best way to open things up and balance everything out.
How to do the best scoliosis stretch
In the video above, you can watch me demonstrate how to do this best stretch for scoliosis patients. Below, I've outlined the steps to take so that you can do this effective spinal stretch at home.
1. Gather the help of a friend. This scoliosis exercise is much easier to do with a partner. It is possible to do on your own, but it is better to do with help.
2. Identify the scoliosis curve. You will need to know what directions the "C" or "S" shapes run. Look in a mirror, consult your X-rays, or have someone trace the length of your spine.
3. Sit in a chair or stand upright. Your partner should be standing behind you.
4. Have your partner press into the concavity. They should hold one arm on our shoulder for support, and the other hand right along your spine, ready to push into the concave part of the curvature. As they push and you stretch, your back will bend sideways with the curve, exaggerating it.
If your spine looks like an "S," with multiple curvatures, then start with the top curve. You can repeat the exercise on the lower curve afterwards.
Note: If you are alone and do not have someone to help, you can use a foam roller on the ground. Lay on it in such a way that it presses into the curvature so that it becomes exaggerated.
5. Do not stretch in such a way that will straighten out the curve in that moment. That is not the way to do this. Always stretch into the concavity.
6. Hold the stretch for a few moments. Take deep breaths while the stretch is held, allowing your muscles to stretch out and the effects to take place.
7. If you have an S-curve, repeat the steps above with the second curve. This means moving down the spine and pressing in the opposite direction, into the next curve.
The bottom line
Above, I explain how to do the best scoliosis stretch. Remember, the key point is to bend with the curvature, not away from it.
This easy, effective scoliosis exercise can help you get significant relief from scoliosis pain and discomfort. It will help loosen up the spasms that occur in the muscles supporting the spinal area.
If you have a child or adolescent with scoliosis, I recommend doing this scoliosis stretching exercise for them a lot. It can help catch things early on and possibly even reverse the problem.
Do you have scoliosis? Give this technique a try, and share your results with us in the comments below.