10 Best Scoliosis Exercises For Minimizing Spinal Curvature

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Heather M. Duquette-Wolf, RD, CSSD
by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that affects the posture (1). It may be caused due to spinal trauma, neuromuscular diseases, cerebral palsy, a malformation in the womb, or incorrect response to gravity (2), (3).

Scoliosis affects both adults and children. Women are 8 times more prone to progressive scoliosis (2). Scoliosis guidelines recommend bracing and scoliosis exercises to minimize spinal curvature (4). This article lists 10 best scoliosis exercises for rehabilitation. Do these under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist.

10 Best Scoliosis Exercises To Improve Posture And Reduce Pain

1. Scoliosis Pilates

This is the beginning of the Scoliosis exercise regimen. It can be done lying down or standing with the support of a wall. It helps in building strength and posture. This enhances the resistance power of the patient.

Targets

Hamstrings, glutes, lats, and lower back.

Starting Position

Lie down flat on your back and fold your knees.

Steps

  1. Take a small gym ball and keep it between your knees.
  2. Keep your palms on the side.
  3. Gently push your hips up to lift your mid-body. Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Lower down and exhale.
  5. Repeat this 10 times. Do this for 10 minutes.

Precaution

Make sure to arch your back when you lie down and start doing the exercise.

2. Scoliosis Yoga – Cat Pose

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This a very good spine strengthening and relaxing exercise. It can also help treat backache.

Target

Upper back, lower back, and glutes.

Starting Position

Come to a cat-like position by supporting your torso on both your palms and knees.

Steps

  1. Push your lower back down and look up at the ceiling. Feel the stretch in your lower back.
  2. Exhale and draw the belly in and form a hunch back. Look toward your navel.
  3. Inhale and repeat this again 20 times. Do this for 8 minutes.

Precaution

Make sure you breathe in and out while doing this exercise.

3. Scoliosis Breathing Exercise

Breathing in deeply helps facilitate blood circulation.

Target

Upper back and lower back.

Starting Position

Lie on your back on a mat and relax your shoulders.

Steps

  1. Keep your fingertips on your chest and breathe in and breathe out. Do this 10 times.
  2. Flex your knees and lift your legs.
  3. Drop your shins and lift them again. Do this 10 times.
  4. Lie down on your side with a pillow supporting your upper torso.
  5. Breathe in and out. Do this 10 times.
  6. Lie down on your back with your knees flexed and feet flat on the floor.
  7. Breathe in and out. Do this 10 times for 20 minutes.

Precaution

Relax and do this exercise.

4. Schroth Method


The Schroth Method is one of the best nonsurgical options for treating scoliosis.

Target

Upper back and lower back.

Starting Position

Lie down on your right side on the floor.

Steps

  1. Lift your left leg. Hold it there for 3 seconds and then release.
  2. Do this 10 times.
  3. Position yourself underneath a bar that is not too high so that you can keep your feet on the ground.
  4. Hold the bar, position your feet right below it, and pull your body down. Feel the stretch and count to 10.
  5. Without leaving the bar, come to a sitting position. Count to 10.
  6. Repeat this set 3 times. Do this for 25 minutes.

Precaution

Take a trainer’s help while doing this exercise.

5. Scoliosis Bird Dog Stretching


It is a form of scoliosis exercise that needs a gym ball for support. It is a very beneficial exercise for beginners as it doesn’t hurt much and helps you attain the perfect posture.

Target

Hamstrings, glutes, shoulder, lats, lower back, triceps, and quads.

Starting Position

Take a gym ball. Lie down with your tummy on the ball and support your body with your toes.

Steps

  1. Lift your left leg and right hand. Hold for 3 seconds.
  2. Put your left leg and right hand down.
  3. Lift your right leg and left hand. Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Put them down.
  5. Repeat this 10 times. Do this for 7 minutes.

Precaution

Stabilize your body using the stability ball so that you don’t fall and hurt yourself.

6. Triceps Raise Or Row Raise


This exercise is also known as row raise or triceps raise. It works the back muscles and provides support to the trunk. You can do this exercise with free weights or a machine. The best way to choose your form will depend on the challenges you face while initially undergoing treatment, as then one can determine which mode will help you attain satisfactory results. Here is what you should do.

Target

Triceps, lats, and lower back.

Starting Position

Sit on a gym ball with your legs shoulder-width apart.

Steps

  1. Take a weight in your right hand and lift it above your head.
  2. Support your right hand with your left hand.
  3. Bend your right elbow and push your right forearm down.
  4. Pull your right forearm up and exhale.
  5. Repeat this 10 times.
  6. Do this with your left hand as well. Do this for 12 minutes.

Precaution

Proper breathing is extremely important. Inhale when you flex your elbow and exhale when you straighten your hand.

7. Hip Roll And Bridge


The Hip Roll and Bridge exercise inclines the pelvis area, raising your vertebrae to form a full circle, and lets the hip move, which is a must if you have scoliosis.

Target

Lower back, middle back, upper back, hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

Starting Position

Lie down on your back, bend your knees, and tuck your legs in.

Steps

  1. Support your body by placing your arms away from your body, palms facing down.
  2. Roll your pelvis region from left to right.
  3. Repeat this 20 times. Do this for 7 minutes.

Precaution

Stop if you experience sharp pain.

8. Plank

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There are several ways of performing the plank exercise. It helps strengthen the core muscles. However, the recommended one for beginners is the form that requires one’s forearms and toes to face the plank.

Target

Abs, shoulders, biceps, upper back, lower back, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Starting Position

Lie down facing the ground, bend your elbows, and support your body with your toes.

Steps

  1. Squeeze your abs in and hold this position for 5 seconds.
  2. Rest and breathe in and out.
  3. Repeat these steps 3 times. Hold each plank for 10-30 seconds.

Precaution

Always take assistance from your physical therapist. Do not bend your knees.

9. Lying Spinal Twist Asana

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This is an excellent exercise to correct your posture and spinal curvature. You will need the assistance of a physical therapist to do this exercise.

Target

Upper back, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Starting Position

Lie down on your side with your knees flexed. Your thighs should be at right angles to the calves. Extend your arms to the side.

Steps

  1. Slowly move your neck, arms, and mid-torso in the opposite direction.
  2. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
  3. Do this on the opposite side too.
  4. Repeat this 10 times. Hold the pose for 2 seconds.

Precaution

Do not twist too much or for too long.

10. Scoliosis Yoga – Tree Pose

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The Tree Pose is of immense help if you want to improve your balance.

Target

Upper back, lower back, adductors, biceps, triceps, and quads.

Starting Position

Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Steps

  1. Support your body on your right foot and flex your left knee. Grab your left knee with both your palms.
  2. Put your left foot flat on your right inner thigh.
  3. Join your palms together and put your hands up.
  4. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Do this on the other side.
  6. Repeat this 3 times. Hold the pose (with and without the assistance of your physical therapist) for 10-30 seconds.

Precaution

Take someone’s help to balance yourself if you are not comfortable the first time.

These are the 10 best scoliosis exercises you can do to rehabilitate your spinal curvature. However, certain exercises might aggravate pain and further increase the spinal curvature angle. You must also be aware of the exercises to avoid if you have scoliosis. Here’s a list.

Scoliosis Exercises To Avoid – Exercises NOT To Do If You Have Scoliosis

  • Exercises that require you to lean or bend forward.
  • Exercises that require you to overextend or curve your lower back.
  • Football or competitive swimming.
  • Gymnastics, somersaults, ballet, and high jumps.
  • Sleeping on your belly.
  • Playing or jumping on the trampoline.
  • Running for long distances.
  • Lifting or carrying heavy objects.
  • Heavy weightlifting at the gym.

Avoiding these exercises and activities can help lower the chances of injuring yourself. But you must do scoliosis therapy exercises daily for the following reasons.

Why Scoliosis Exercises Are Good For You?

Exercise is the best way to strengthen and straighten the physical posture and avoid curvature on one side. But when it comes to scoliosis, you have to be a little more mindful about the exercises you choose to do.

Breathing exercises (like taking deep breaths) can provide temporary relief, but they are not an effective remedy. Yoga, which does help in giving the muscles some balance, is not the go-to solution in case of scoliosis.

Scoliosis bracing is also a temporary solution, as the spinal curve can reappear when you stop wearing the brace. Hence, it is important to do the scoliosis exercises mentioned here. You must consult your doctor before doing them.

Benefits Of Scoliosis Exercises

  • Reduce spinal curvature.
  • Improve brain and muscle coordination.
  • Slow down or stop scoliosis progression.
  • Stabilize and reduce existing curvature.
  • Reduce the need for surgery or invasive bracing.

Types Of Scoliosis Exercises

  • Involuntary exercises to train the muscles and the brain.
  • Anti-scoliosis postures for day-to-day activities.
  • Mirror image exercises to balance the curvature.
  • Breathing mechanics and functions.

Helpful Scoliosis Exercise Tools

  • Foam Roller – Foam rollers not only relieve pain but also help build strength. They provide support when you do core strengthening exercises.
  • Stability Ball – Stability balls provide support and stability to your back and strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • Training Wedges Or Blocks – Training wedges are wedged soft mats that offer extra support if you have multiple curves in your spine.
  • BOSU Balance Trainer –This dome-shaped balance trainer helps strengthen your back muscles.
  • ScoliSMART Activity Suit – This is a very helpful and effective suit that you can wear even while doing your daily chores. It helps you maintain proper posture and reduces the spinal curvature with regular usage.

Sports To Play If You Have Scoliosis

Note: Always consult your doctor before playing any sport if you have scoliosis. Here are the sports you can play:

  • Swimming (not competitive swimming)
  •  Cycling
  • Light strength training

Living with scoliosis can be challenging, so why not detect it way earlier? Here’s how you can do that.

ScolioSMART™ Early Stage Intervention

The ScoliSMART™ Early Stage Intervention is a five-day treatment, which helps kick-start the crucial neuromuscular retraining. It also includes home treatment and assessments of improvement. It includes the following.

  • Genetic risk assessment — Saliva samples are taken to find the likelihood of scoliosis.
  • Neurotransmitter testing — Hormone imbalances are determined that contribute to brain-muscle miscommunication.
  • Home muscle training program — Involuntary exercise program.
  • Nutritional testing and support — Supplements are given to correct hormonal imbalances.

Precaution: Get a thorough check-up done before doing any scoliosis exercise. Do them under the guidance of a professional.

If you do these exercises, you will slowly develop strength and correct your posture. Do not wait anymore. Consult a doctor today and start doing these exercises right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can scoliosis be reversed or cured?

The earlier the treatment, the better the chances of reversing or completely curing scoliosis. You must work with your doctor and a licensed physical therapist to reduce the spinal curvature. Be active and join a support group if it helps you stay positive.

Does stretching help scoliosis?

Yes, stretching helps reduce scoliosis pain and curvature. Do it with assistance and under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

How should I sleep with scoliosis?

This can vary from person to person. Talk to your doctor about the best position that you can sleep in.

Does cold weather affect scoliosis pain?

Yes, cold weather can aggravate scoliosis pain. Wear warm clothes and try to stay warm during winters.

What is infantile scoliosis?

If children below 5 years are affected by scoliosis, it is known as infantile scoliosis.

Is walking good for scoliosis?

Wear the ScolioSMART suit for walking.

Is swimming good for someone with scoliosis?

Yes, swimming is good for the scoliotic spine. But do not try competitive swimming.

Does chiropractor massage help scoliosis?

Yes, a specially developed chiropractor massage for scoliosis can help correct scoliosis spinal curvature. Talk to a chiropractor therapist who has worked with people with scoliosis before.

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.
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