How Does Yoga Help Scoliosis?
As anyone suffering from scoliosis can tell you, the condition is more than just curvature of the spine: it is headaches, back pain, shortness of breath. It is digestive trouble, chronic fatigue, and even mood swings. It is hip, knee, and leg pain, and in some women, menstrual-cycle disturbances.
The progressive disease afflicts nearly 7 million Americans, and in over 80% of these cases, doctors are unable to determine why the disease hit, or how it will progress.
While surgery is an option for scoliosis patients, many cases aren’t severe enough to warrant the drastic and invasive bone-fusing procedure. Instead, many patients use a corrective brace to help compensate for the spinal curvature and provide pain relief.
Yoga offers an alternative, complimentary approach to help treat the discomfort of scoliosis. Because scoliosis habituates the body to an asymmetrical way of holding itself, many aches and pains patients experience are due to imbalanced muscular strain. Yoga can stretch out overworked muscles and help strengthen other muscles that have grown weak through lack of use. Through yoga for scoliosis, the body’s muscular system can be trained to support the spine in a more healthy, aligned way.
In addition, yoga for scoliosis also stretches out the spine, relieving pressure on the vertebrae and surrounding bones and tissue. Special yoga for scoliosis routines, such as the program developed by Elise Browning Miller, also focus on de-rotating the spine and ribs.
Different postures will have special benefits for specific types of scoliosis. For example, those who wish to decrease a lateral curve will need to emphasize lengthening the spine before gently bringing it back to center and developing the muscles to keep it in place. Those suffering from posterior rotation will gain special benefit from twists, although other postures also help to stretch and strengthen the muscles necessary for proper alignment.
In addition its upfront physical benefits, yoga also cultivates body awareness through an emphasis on breathing. With an increased connection to their physiologies, scoliosis patients find they are better able to work with, rather than against, their bodies.
Through yoga, those suffering from scoliosis can cultivate a more effortless posture to support their bone structure, as opposed to placing strain on their muscles. Naturally, as muscles grow more balanced and strong, and as body awareness increases, scoliosis patients who practice yoga find their own unique optimal alignment. Through yoga for scoliosis, those with the condition can not only develop better posture and find relief from pain and discomfort, but establish a new level of physical balance and overall quality of life as well.