Many people who suffer from scoliosis don’t have a severe enough case to need surgery or wear a back brace but are still faced with pains caused by their spine being out of alignment. Stretching regularly is recommended to improve flexibility in the spine and improve overall physical function in the body. Just because the scoliosis might not be severe enough for surgery, it is necessary to stretch the spine daily to prevent chronic conditions from arising in the future. Can yoga help scoliosis heal even faster with the specific exercises to treat scoliosis that yoga provides?
What is Scoliosis?
When the spine is slightly curved, either in an S-shape or C-shape, this condition is referred to as scoliosis. No one really knows why scoliosis occurs in the body but sometime during adolescence the spine will start to curve as it grows. If the curve is severe enough and is caught at a young enough age, surgery might be recommended in order to prevent further damage to the spine.
There are two types of scoliosis – functional and structural – but structural scoliosis has the potential to cause long-term pain in the lower back and even chronic conditions like sciatica if left untreated. As the body ages, scoliosis can have a domino effect on the rest of the body due to how it compensates for a particular part of the body that is in pain.
For example, scoliosis can cause the shoulders to be out of alignment causing neck and shoulder pain which could also cause the hips to become uneven. Because the body must compensate for this shift in your alignment, many other conditions such as insomnia from constant aching pain, degenerative disc disease from constant compression on the vertebrae, as well as depression and anxiety from the stress that these conditions can lead to may occur.
Can Yoga Help Scoliosis?
For those of you that are looking for a more natural alternative to surgery, beginning a regular yoga practice will help lengthen the spine, stretch the muscles around the spine that have become tight, and strengthen the spinal muscles to add overall support and increase alignment.
No matter how severe your scoliosis is, practicing yoga regularly will start to realign you spine and relieve aches and pains throughout your body. Although it could takes years of regular practice for you to start making real progress healing and straightening your spine, the more you practice the more benefits your body will start to feel.
Just like the domino effect that scoliosis can have on the pains in the rest of your body, regularly practicing yoga can have just as much of an effect on how good your body can feel. As you advance in your practice you will notice your posture getting better, chronic pains subsiding, and your body and mind will starting to feel more balanced. Once you realize that you actually have control over how good your body is able to feel, you only want to practice more because the more you practice, the better you feel.
Overtime, if you stick with it and allow your body the time it needs to heal, regularly practicing yoga has been shown to straighten the spine and heal scoliosis, even in severe cases. Although it’s not going to be easy, it is definitely worth it to be able to live a normal life free from the pain scoliosis can cause.
The reason practicing yoga helps heal scoliosis so much is because of the way it incorporates postures that help to center the body along your body’s plumb line. The plumb line is a straight line from the top of your head down through the middle of your body that separates your left side from your right side. When scoliosis is causing your spine to be skewed either to the left or right side, this stress causes you to compensate in the opposite side. Left untreated for too long, your entire body can be shifted to one side causing your body to be completely out of alignment and develop chronic conditions.
An easy way to see if your body is out of alignment it to stand up straight with your toes touching and a small gap between your heels. As you take a breath raise your hands over your head and bring your palms to touch above you. You might feel your body try to shift to one side or it might cause discomfort to bring your body so it’s centered but the more you exercise and stretch your muscles with yoga, the stronger and more aligned your spine will become.
Exercises to Treat Scoliosis
Practicing the following yoga poses are going to focus on lengthening, strengthening, and aligning your spine. Since scoliosis curves the spine, yoga incorporates twists as well as backbends that work to rotate your spine back into alignment. Also, building strength in the legs and back will help prevent scoliosis from getting worse, especially if the body is still growing.
1. Seated Spinal Twist
While sitting on the floor, bend your left leg so your left foot is on the ground near your right glute. Bring your right leg over your left and place your right foot on the ground on the outside of your left knee. Place your right elbow on the inside of your right knee and your left hand either behind you or to the side. Begin to gently press your right elbow against your left knee and rotate your body to the left, shifting your gaze towards the back of the room. Release back to center and then switch sides.
2. Extended Puppy Pose
Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and your shoulders above your hands. Curl your toes onto the ground while extending your hands out in front of you. Begin to move your glutes towards your heels and stop halfway. Lower your forehead to the ground and keep a slight curve in your lower back. Hold this position for as long as feels good.
3. Half-Locust Pose
Lying on your stomach with your legs straight behind you and your arms out in front of you, begin to lift your left arm and your right leg up towards the sky. As you lift your arm and leg also begin to lift your head off the ground while reaching the crown of your head up and away from your body. Hold this position for a few breaths and then switch sides.
4. Reclining Backbend
Lying on your back, take a pillow or a bolster and place it in on the mid section of your back so it is beneath your shoulders and your head can rest on the ground. Place your palms together and reach your arms out over your head while stretching through the bottom of your heels. You can stay in this restorative position for as long as it feels good, or around 3 to 5 minutes.
Practice Yoga Regularly for Relief
Even though scoliosis can take many years to fully feel relief from, starting a regular yoga practice is the best and fastest way to start bringing alignment back to your body and your spine. Once you are able to feel the way your body is able to move freely after practicing yoga for a while it is just a matter of time before you heal your scoliosis completely.
If you have a minor case of scoliosis, or are catching your scoliosis at a young age, starting a yoga practice as soon as possible is going to help prevent further conditions to arise in your body or allow the scoliosis to get worse. In order to find relief from the pain it is going to be very uncomfortable at times. You might want to quit or think it’s not working but as long as you stick with it, yoga can, and will, start to heal layers upon layers of pain in your body caused by scoliosis.
How can you start treating your scoliosis?
Stick With It!