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Schroth Method for Scoliosis

Estimates show that there are 6 to 9 million people in the world currently suffering from scoliosis, and many receive physical therapy treatment designed to manage their pain while addressing the root issue—their spinal curve.

Using the Schroth Method, we've seen firsthand how scoliosis patients can regain their quality of life and movement over time. We're here to work with you and help you make the most of this highly effective scoliosis treatment method.

Schroth Method therapy can help improve your posture, relieve pain, and stop scoliosis from impeding your everyday life.

What are the Main Types of Adult Scoliosis?

Scoliosis often develops as a spinal curve in children. If the spine curvature is left without treatment as those children grow into adolescents and then adults, the curve pattern can become deeper, often on one side of the body.

In fact, an adult's spinal curve can progress up to 2 degrees per year, and pain management alone does not do anything to correct posture and address the root causes of scoliosis.

In other cases, adults can develop scoliosis at a later age. Joint degeneration and decreases in bone density, which may happen as you age, can cause your spine to curve in a way that puts your muscles out of balance.

Two main types of adult scoliosis are:

Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis

Many adolescents experience what will later become adult idiopathic scoliosis. Even though the scoliosis-induced curvature of the spine slows down during adulthood, you may still experience curve progression with adult idiopathic scoliosis, along with progressing pain, pressure on the nerves, and tension in the hips and knees.

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Degenerating bone density and diminished muscle strength is another common cause of scoliosis. Adults with degenerative scoliosis will nearly always experience back and leg pain, and these difficulties can be compounded by related issues like osteoporosis and arthritis.

Keep in mind that the severity of curve progression affects what type of scoliosis treatment might work best for you. You may experience:

  • Mild scoliosis — The spinal curvature is less than 20 degrees and posture looks mostly unaffected, except to a trained physical therapist. This form of scoliosis can be improved with simple exercise treatment.
  • Moderate scoliosis — The spine's curve is between 20 and 45 degrees. Patients may also need a medical brace as part of their physical therapy program.
  • Severe scoliosis — Beyond 50 degrees of a curve, severe scoliosis may require surgery to correct.

If your scoliosis progresses from mild to moderate to severe, the rest of your body has likely been compensating for this misalignment. In some cases, muscles, the rib cage, and other parts of the body may also become impaired due to improper spinal alignment.

Severe cases and surgery are often preventable, so it's important to address spinal issues as early as possible.

What is the Schroth Method for Scoliosis?

The Schroth Method is an approach pioneered by Katharina Schroth and further developed by her daughter, Christa Lehnert-Schroth. Today, the Schroth approach to physical therapy services has been practiced and improved for over three generations in the care of scoliosis patients.

The goal of the Schroth Method is to go beyond simple pain management. To do so, the method de-rotates, elongates, and stabilizes the spine in three-dimensional space.

A Schroth Method exercise program may focus on:

  • Breathing techniques (such as breathing into the concave side of the body, to bring the spine back into alignment)
  • Mindful awareness of supportive posture
  • Rebalancing alignment of posture
  • Restoring muscular symmetry

Why is Scoliosis Treatment Important?

When you have scoliosis, your spine takes C-shape or S-shape, and this irregularity affects more than just your posture. Scoliosis can actually rotate the spine and vertebrae. This in turn can affect your lung function, trunk balance, breathing mechanics, the strength of your back and rib muscles, and even placement of your rib cage.

Your body mechanics are designed to help keep you mobile, so the rest of your body will often overcompensate, adjust, and shift in order to accommodate any misalignment.

Even mild scoliosis can result in:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Head and neck not properly centered
  • One or both hips unevenly raised
  • Uneven waist alignment
  • The body leaning to one side
  • The appearance or texture of skin over the spine changing from top to bottom

At Jag, when our patients begin using the Schroth Method, our physical therapists lead them through customized exercises, breathing techniques, and body awareness techniques to move the spine from its curved orientation to a more natural posture.

Eventually, you can use self-management such as breathing exercises, physical exercise therapy, and postural awareness to maintain the improved condition you achieve through the Schroth Method.

What Results do Schroth Method Patients Experience?

If you're seeking physical therapy treatment to treat scoliosis, you can greatly benefit from Schroth therapy.

You'll feel the changes to your body's trunk, muscles, and breathing even before you see visible, tangible changes on an X-ray. The benefits of Schroth method exercises and breathing include:

  • Improved postural alignment
  • Stronger core stability
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Easier, more expanded (less pinched) breathing
  • Less pain (especially in the back, hips, pelvis, etc.)
  • Improved range of motion and more mindful movement pattern
  • Better pelvic strength and alignment

With the help and guidance of a JAG PT physical therapist, the Schroth Method can do much more than just stop scoliosis from advancing. It can help the spine return to a more natural curvature and make a significant difference to the health of your body overall.

3 Core Components of Schroth Method Exercises

Schroth Method appointments may vary based on your needs. Your JAG PT physical therapist will help you customize and modify exercises so that they're accessible and appropriate for your particular strength and range of motion. Often, those with scoliosis experience enough pain that they find certain exercises difficult at first, so modifications can help you ease into exercises and become stronger and more pain-free over time.

Our Schroth Method certified therapists will bring three core components to all Schroth Method exercises. These include:

  • Muscular symmetry — It's not uncommon for your muscles on one side of your torso to be strong and muscles on the other side to be weak from under-use. Schroth Method exercises are designed to help you achieve equivalency in muscle strength.
  • Rotational angular breathing — Throughout the program, your therapist will help rotate your spine with breathing to help reshape the rib cavity and surrounding soft tissue.
  • Posture awareness — Drawing from Katharina Schroth's original use of mirrors during the program, your Schroth Method exercises will, through repetitions and visual and postural cues, help you be mindful of positions that support the spine and see what a straight spine looks like in practice.

Schroth Method Physical Therapy in NJ, NY & PA

If you have scoliosis, and you're hoping to avoid invasive surgery, Schroth Method exercises can help you make significant progress with spinal alignment and pain relief. At Jag, our goal is to provide truly personalized, one-on-one expert services that can help you achieve your best life.

Book an Appointment at JAG PT and Get Ahead of the Scoliosis Curve

JAG PT can provide Schroth Method therapy in-network with many insurance providers, and we have over 100 locations throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Find a location near you or contact our team of compassionate, experienced clinicians to ask about Schroth Method therapy today. We're committed to helping you to get back the life you love.