The Schroth Method of scoliosis specific exercises are designed uniquely to help stabilize and correct scoliosis curvatures. Unlike conventional exercises that are done the same on both sides of the body scoliosis exercises are generally applied unilaterally and are designed to help correct the imbalances of the scoliosis spine by lengthening and strengthening the weakened muscles on the inside of the curvatures.
A scoliosis of the spine is far more than just a side-to-side deviation of the spine the curvatures are actually has a rotational component much like a corkscrew. The Schroth Method was the first exercise program to recognize that scoliosis is a three dimensional problem that requires a three dimensional solution.
Developer of the Schroth Method
Originally developed in German by a physiotherapist, Katharina Schroth in 1927 to treat her own scoliosis it later became the premiere method of treating scoliosis and is used extensively throughout Europe today.
Schroth Method Clinically Proven Results
It has been clinically proven and well researched in the scientific literature and has been found to be effective in not only stopping the progression of scoliosis curvatures but also correcting curvatures and other scoliosis related deformities in the body.
Because it is highly specific and intensely focused on strengthening and lengthening the specifically weakened muscles on the inside of the curvatures by elongating the trunk it is able to help reduce the muscular imbalances and establish new and improved movement patterns in the body that are geared towards reducing the scoliosis curvatures.
The Schroth Method helps reduce the rotation component of scoliosis by affecting of the rib cage using specific breathing exercises designed to correct the bio-mechanical faults and re-educating the patient’s nervous system to permanently adopt new movement patterns that correct the underlying faults. By using the inner muscles of the rib cage it can reshape the thorax which in turn corrects the spinal deformity.
This can have the effect of slowing, halting of progression or improving the scoliosis curvatures of the spine. It can also help improve a patients heart and lung function as well as overall mobility and postural of the spine. It also can help greatly diminish or eliminate pain related to the scoliosis.
The Schroth exercises position the body in a certain way that enables the expansion of the flattened area of the rib cage on the inside of the curve in the back and the opposite side of the chest wall. Many repetitions of the exercise is performed in this “corrected” position so the patient develops postural awareness. This type of corrective exercise is also applied to other areas of the spine to help normalize spinal curvatures. For instance, many scoliosis patients also have a flattened back from front to back, and the Schroth Method encourage restoration of the proper sagittal curvatures as well.
Although the Schroth Method is a highly advanced scoliosis specific exercise program that uses many different postures in the standing, sitting, lying down positions, it is decidedly “low tech” in terms of the simple equipment needed. The exercises are comprised of different types of floor work and are done in many different postures such as sitting on a physio-ball, standing in a corrected position with one foot on a low stool, lying face up or on the side on some bean bags. The exact combination of exercises is determined by curve pattern and severity.
Schroth Scoliosis Exercise Classes
The Schroth Method, as originally taught in Germany was a quite rigorous programs that was taught over 3-4 months at a time, much like a summer camp for scoliosis exercise. Patients would actually be housed in communal cabins at the institute to learn the Schroth Method They would perform exercises for 6 to 8 hours each day for months at a time. This type of total immersion program over the course of a few months at a time helped the patient better integrate the new movement patterns permanently.
Most people today don’t have that kind of time to devote to improving their scoliosis, which is why we often use Schroth as an integral part of a Combination Therapy that would include other corrective movement therapies like SpineCor.
Also, over the past several decades insurance carriers moved away from paying for in-patient therapy programs like originally taught at the Schroth Institute. As insurance re-reimbursement became an issue, providers were pressured to reduce the time spent with a patient to no more than a hour per day. Thus many providers began teaching Schroth exercises to a patient once or twice a week for an hour. The challenge teaching a new motor skill like the Schroth Method in this manner is that it’s not the most optimal way for replacing the old default patterns of movement that are driving the scoliosis to worsen.
Our Schroth Programs- Time Tested Schroth Exercises Applied Based On Modern Concepts In Neuro-Science
Our Schroth Method of scoliosis specific exercise applies current concepts in neuroscience to the foundational exercises used in the Schroth Method to help enhance the effectiveness. They can be used alone or as an integral part of a comprehensive program of scoliosis treatment depending on the needs of the patient.
Changing Your Mind To Improve Your Scoliosis
Current theories in the neuroscience reveals that the way our bodies move unconsciously results from our habitual pattern of movement, rather than something consciously performed. Those habitual patterns are responsible for each individuals gait pattern and their overall body posture in many different position.
Scoliosis can greatly affect your unconscious patterns of movement. If fact it can alter these the way your body moves and holds itself upright in a way that reinforces the curvatures in your spine, thus allowing the scoliosis to gradually worsen over time. So learning to change these habitual patterns of movement is key to keeping your body from collapsing into your curves by stabilizing your spine by developing new patterns of movement that are corrective.
The brain has the capacity to learn new patterns of movement that overtime can replace those old patterns that are driving your curves to worsen. This is the fundamental basis behind how the Schroth Method works. It helps train your brain how to hold your body in a more corrective and centered position by activating muscles that have been relatively in active due to the mal-positions caused by the scoliosis.
Replacing Old Habits of Movements With New Ones
We’ve found that when first learning a new motor skill, like Schroth, is best done in a condensed time frame with a lot of time-space-repetition intervals. In our Schroth Weekend Immersive Workshops our providers tend to break down the exercises that are taught in workable blocks of time and then reviewed again in the next block so that the participant gets lots of practice with each of the exercises over the course of the weekend. This allows them to develop a “Soft Habit” with these newly learned patterns of movement, meaning that they could fairly accurately reproduce the movements if they did them the next day.
A patient is started off with a basic set of exercises that are specific for their particular scoliosis pattern. They practice these exercises on a daily basis at home. It is this repeated performance over the course of a couple months that allows the Schroth student to develop a “Hard Habit” which means that they can reproduce these new and improved patterns of movement without having to think about it. Eventually the nervous system can replace the old faulty patterns of movement that had reinforced the scoliosis pattern with these new patterns that are more supportive.
By practicing these exercises on a regularly scheduled time-space-interval is one of the key aspects of the method which is making perceptual changes in the body during and after the exercises is maximized and a new body awareness is integrated into their nervous systems.
Patients are encouraged to enhance this further through visual feed back from watching their positions in a mirror while performing the exercises. They are instructed how to recognize differences in their postural alignment and how to continuously self correct their body mechanics to move towards the ideal position. In doing these small but important corrections they gradually increase a better postural awareness.
Patients are instructed to not only be aware of their chronic poor postural habits and constantly self correct while doing the exercises but also to carry that over into all their normal daily activities as well; thus, forever becoming their new habitual patterns. Over time, through practice and recognition of the what is their correct posture and by developing a new pattern of breathing into the flattened places they can create a permanent reorganization of the movement patterns which will help stabilize the spine by strengthening the weakened muscles supporting the spine. This in turn can help relieve pain related to the collapse of the curvatures and even help reduce scoliosis curves.