Pilates Home Exercises for Lumbar Scoliosis
By Lynda Lippin, Master Pilates Teacher, Certified Personal Trainer, and Pelvic Clock® Educator http://pilatesteachermastermind.com
Scoliosis is a lateral (sideways) curvature of the spine, and often shows as an S shaped curve, with the ribcage or thoracic spine curving one way (say, to the right), with the lumbar spine curving the other way (in this example, left) to help balance things out for function.
Scoliosis can cause pain, as due to the position of the bones, there can be nerve and muscle issues. In severe cases, scoliosis can require bracing and surgery to prevent further slippage and maintain space in the torso for our internal organs.
Can You Fix Scoliosis?
While there is no way to fix scoliosis, scoliosis exercises focus on body alignment, so as to get the most mobility and strength from the structure. Maintaining core powerhouse strength, along with mobility at the joints, will help stop further slippage of the spine and alleviate lower back pain from scoliosis.
Even my clients who have had lumbar fusion surgery to prevent worsening of scoliosis still need to work on their body alignment with a daily program of scoliosis exercises.
While Pilates can do a lot for powerhouse strength, the addition of the pelvic clock device can help folks with scoliosis correct lateral pelvic tilt and pelvic rotation, with a strong focus on body alignment exercises.
Pilates Mat Exercises for Lumbar Scoliosis
Pilates mat scoliosis exercises can do a lot to help balance, strengthen the muscles around the lumbar spine, pelvis, and hip joints (the deep abdominals, pelvic floor, adductors, rotators, gluteals, iliopsoas, QL, and lumbar multifidi), increasing stability while encouraging better alignment and core strength.
Adding the Pelvic Clock® device to a home Pilates scoliosis exercise program will allow you to more effectively target the lumbar spine, pelvis, and hips - all of which can become imbalances and misaligned due to the lateral curve.
Here are some Pilates-based scoliosis exercises and body alignment exercises that you can try at home.
1.Diagonal Stretch for Lumbar Multifidus Activation
This body alignment exercise helps stretch and strengthen the lower back and the deep spine muscles.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
As you breathe, start a small rocking movement of your pelvis--tipping it back as you exhale (hipbones back and tailbone up) and arching forward as you inhale. Repeat this 10-15 times.
Then try to move side to side without moving your knees or ribcage. Pretend that someone dropped a hot ash on your right hip bone so that it drops towards the mat a little, and then the left. Breathe as you need to and go between the right and left hip 10-15 times.
Try this using the Pelvis Clock®
Then, try diagonals - right hip bone to left thigh, and vice versa. Again, do 10-15 each direction.
2. Side Stretch
This scoliosis exercise will help you stretch some of the tighter, more concave areas of your spine. As you move and breathe, focus on “filling” the concave areas of your spine.
Start on your back with knees and arms straight, feet a bit wider than hips, and arms overhead.
Grab your left wrist with your right hand, and start to pull your upper body to the right, stretching through your left ribcage. Keep abdominals pulled in and up, not arching your lower back up.
Breathe a few times here.
If this feels OK, take your left foot and bring it next to the right, increasing the stretch through the side of the lower back.
Again, breathe a few times here.
Bring your left leg back out, and slide upper body back to center.
Then grab your right wrist with your left hand and start the same process on the other side. Repeat about 3 times on each side.
Then, try it using your Pelvic Clock®.