Scoliosis: Brace, Fuse, or Exercise?
There is controversy over the use of braces to correct excessive curvature of the spine (scoliosis) in teenagers because research has failed to prove that they work. “Bracing is regarded as effective by some and as useless by others.” According to Stefano Negrini, MD the scientific director of the ISICO (Italian Scientific Spine Institute) in Milan.
The cause of most adolescent scoliosis is unknown. It affects 3-5 out of every 1,000 children, and is more common and more severe in girls.
Scoliosis can be:
- Idiopathic – Of unknown cause.
- Functional – From poor posture and body alignment habits.
- Structural – Caused by disease, or birth defects.
So why is bracing used if the experts aren’t positive it’s actually working?
Based on the severity some sort of treatment is required, because if left untreated damage to the spine, heart, and lungs can occur as an adult. Bracing is less evasive and still allows the option to strengthen the body through exercise and movement to balance and support the spine. The alternative option of surgery and spine fusion is a permanent and last-resort option to protect the health of internal organs and quality of life.
What else can you do to treat Scoliosis?
While studies so far show that none of these can prevent the progression of scoliosis, they may offer some relief of symptoms.
- Manipulation by a Chiropractor, Kinesiologist, or Osteopathic Doctor
- Electrical Stimulation
- Diet & Nutrition
The benefits of Pilates for clients with scoliosis
Over the years, I’ve had many clients with varying degrees of curvature of the spine participate in Pilates programs. And while there might not be documented research to the benefits of Pilates exercises for scoliosis…From my experience, I have seen amazing gains in strength, and mobility. The curves don’t go back to normal, but it is possible to learn how to strengthen the body and retrain some of the weaker muscles to better support the spine and achieve more optimal muscle balance. Plus increased body awareness of good and bad posture habits is vital to learn how to avoid falling into the poor alignment that the scoliosis curve would prefer. Spend more time using your own muscles to strive for good posture through Pilates and other fitness exercises, and you’re retraining the body for better health.
Looking at the Difference in Support Options
A brace is an external support for the spine. If the brace is doing the work, our muscles don’t have to work as hard (and in my opinion….may become weaker over time.) But if you don’t have the muscle awareness or strength to properly support the body all day long…bracing may be required to assist.
Spine fusion surgery creates permanent internal support for the spine. (While this might solve one problem, it has the potential to create others) And generally speaking fusion surgery is a last resort option.
Exercise strengthens the core and back muscles so your body can provide it’s own muscular support for the spine. Pilates exercises with the focus on core stabilization, and functional mobility of the spine in all directions – flexion, extension, side bending, and rotation, and should be considered as a primary care option to assist in improving health and supporting the spine.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases continues to research and learn more about treatments for scoliosis to determine the best modalities for improved health. I hope in time, that more documented research into the benefits of Pilates for scoliosis will be conducted.
- Pulse Power! The Daily Dozen – 10 Minute Workout Plan $7.99 Epub (for eReaders like Nook, iBooks, Sony Reader or software like Adobe Digital Editions) or PDF File (for accessing directly from your computer)
- Centerworks Acupressure Foot Massage Mat $40 Stimulate the foot reflexology points on the soles of your feet to release tension and stress and improve the fitness of your feet
- Pilates Walk – Tips, Techniques, and Exercises for a Healthy Stride 15.00 Quickly and Easily Maximize the Health Benefits of Your Walking Workouts
- Stretch Out Strap™ (XL Strap + Exercise Training & Conditioning Poster) 18.95 Includes XL Strap + Exercise Training & Conditioning Poster
- RunFit Foot Fitness Kit™ 2.0 $195 Includes Fantastic Feet Book, Arch Activators (pair), Toe Bandz Kit (4 bands + mini massage ball), Toe Separators Kit (1 pair skinny & 1 pair wide), Super-Ankle Board + exercise booklet and video training program, Foot Fitness COMBO Exercise Selection Guide Booklet -- All in a convenient, portable mesh carry bag; PLUS the Centerworks Acupressure Foot Massage Mat, Fantastic Feet mini-foot fitness kit (sticks, stones, TheraBand, and mini-massage ball), RunFit Kit 2.0 Quick Reference Guide (laminated charts) (to help you pick the best Run-Fit training tool/exercises to get started, based on the foot-care issues you may be dealing with…), Run-Fit Kit backpack to keep everything together, easy to find, and ready to use for your at-home, and on-the-go workouts.
- Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board Bundle $40 Includes Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board, 22-Page Exercise Spiral Bound Booklet and 41:20 "How-To" Exercise DVD
- Foam Roller Fitness Exercise Tips & Core Training Techniques $50 80-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- Pilates Teachers Video Training: Foam Roller Training for Pilates Pros $50 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- Combo: Foam Roller Fitness & Foam Roller Training for Pilates Pros $85 Live Video Training by Aliesa George,PMA-CPT
- How to Effectively Engage the Pelvic Floor to Help Strengthen the Core $35 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- 6-Dot Strategy for Effective Rotation of the Spine $35 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- 6 Simple Training Tips for Functional Movement at the Hips $35 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- Pilates Magic Circle and Workout DVD $30 Pilates Magic Circle and Workout DVD
- Fantastic Feet! and Foot Fitness Kit Combo $30 Foot Fitness Kit and Fantastic Feet! 95-Page Paperback by Aliesa George
- Foot Fitness Kit $20 Foot Fitness Kit by Aliesa George
- Basic Pilates: The First 15 Matwork Exercises $12 37:30 Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Beginner-Intermediate Pilates Matwork with Flow: 23 Exercises $12 41:10 Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Intermediate Pilates Matwork Flowing Fitness Challenge: 35 Exercises $12 41:10 Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Magic Circle Pilates Matwork: Basic-Intermediate $12 65 Minute Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Posture Principles for Health $79 60-page study guide and DVD or Streaming Online Video
- A Barrel of Fun! Pilates Arc Barrel Workout $34.97 78-Page Spiral-Bound Book by Aliesa George
- Fantastic Feet! $20 95-Page Paperback by Aliesa George
- Return to Life Through Contrology $15.95 105-Page Paperback by Joseph H. Pilates
- Be FIT Journal $15 380-Page Paperback by Aliesa George