Bad posture in general and scoliosis, in particular, are the plight of today. We spend so much time sitting in front of computers and staring into our devices that our spines become weak and crooked. Both adults and children spend hours upon hours every day hurting our spines, which inevitably causes pain, weakness, changes in posture and poor self-esteem.
Whether or not you suffer from scoliosis, which is a sideways curve of the spine that can be painful and cause other health problems, your posture will benefit from these simple exercises you can do at home. Doctors recommend these 5 stretches and exercises for scoliosis patients and point out that they are vital components of the treatment.
1. Opposite Arm and Leg Raise
One of the best ways to strengthen your back muscles is through arm and leg raises. And strengthening your muscles is key, as they can help stabilize your spine and will do wonders at relieving you of back pain. The version we will talk you through is the simplest one because you’re laying on the belly and don’t have to maintain your balance, but you can also do it on all fours or even from a plank position if this is too easy.
Step 1. Lie on your belly, forehead resting on the floor and arms extended over your head, legs straight.
Step 2. Raise your left arm and right leg off of the ground. Hold for one or two breaths, and then return to the initial position.
Step 3. Now repeat the same with the right arm and left leg. This is one rep.
Repeat 10-15 times.
2. Cat-Cow Stretch
Everyone can and probably should try this yoga pose, as it is excellent at increasing the mobility and flexibility of the entire spine. In the long run, it can help you get rid of back and shoulder pain as well. You can read the directions and watch the video to learn this stretch.
Step 1. Start on all fours, with your shoulders directly under your wrists and hips under the knees, torso and hear parallel to the floor.
Step 2. On an exhale, suck your belly in (this will activate your abs) and arch your back like an angry cat, head looking down.
Step 3. Now inhale and return to the initial position. Then slowly release your abs and drop your belly and arching the back the other direction, lifting the head up. This is 1 rep.
Repeat 10 times.
3. Standing Lat Stretch
The lat muscle (which is short for the latissimus dorsi muscle) is the longest muscle of the upper body, and it often gets compressed or affected otherwise when you’re experiencing back pain, have scoliosis or bad posture. Stretching this muscle can cause a feeling of instant relief in the back and shoulders. Here’s how to do this stretch:
Step 1. Stand up straight, with your shoulders relaxed and feet shoulder-width apart. Don’t lock your knees and bend them slightly.
Step 2. Raise your arms overhead and grab your left wrist with your right hand.
Step 3. Now bend your upper body to the left until you feel a stretch throughout the right side of the body. Hold this position for a few deep breaths. When you’re done, on an inhale, return to the initial position.
Step 4. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side and don’t forget to now grab the right wrist with your left hand. You probably already know, this is 1 repetition.
Repeat 5-10 times.
4. Pelvic Tilt (or Bridge Pose)
If your lower back is bothering you or you have scoliosis in the lumbar region, a pelvic stretch will help train the lower back muscles and abs, which will relieve pain in the hips and the lower back. The video below will show you a yoga version of the pelvic tilt that is static, but you can also do a dynamic version of this exercise by simply repeating the movement several times instead of holding the pose.
Step 1. Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Step 2. Suck your belly in, tightening your abdominal muscles and raise your bottom off the floor as much as you can. Hold as much as you can if you’re doing the static version or for only 1 breath if you’re choosing the dynamic one, then return your bottom to the floor and relax your abs.
Repeat 10-15 times (dynamic) or 3 times (static).
5. Bird Dog
As you can probably guess from the name, the Bird Dog is a yoga-inspired exercise as well. It will strengthen your side muscles, abs and back muscles, so it’s excellent for the entire upper body, even though it’s a bit more challenging than the rest.
Step 1. Start on all fours, wrists directly under your shoulders, knees under the hips. You can keep your feet curled or straight, whatever feels more stable to you personally.
Step 2. Raise and extend the left arm parallel to the floor and raise the right leg up and back as well. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then lower your arm and leg.
Step 3. Repeat the exercise with the opposite leg and arm. If you feel stable and confident in this posture, you can try a more complicated version by taking the arm and leg you’ve initially extended and bring them close to your belly (see video below).
Repeat 10 times on each side.
Cover image: BruceBlaus/ Wikimedia Commons
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