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Hopefully, this will encourage teachers and movers alike to explore a more full-body approach that builds core strength in non-flexion movements for clients living with Scoliosis.
Our goal is to try to see the spine in relation to all the vertebrae and all parts of the body. During these movements use all the tissues, muscles, bones, body awareness, and breath to reach for balance.
The exercise names are from Balanced Body manuals. A few have flat back variations and I have added that to the original name to provide clarity.
I want to suggest that as a community of professionals we need to move away from a “single-sided” philosophy of pilates to address Scoliosis. Unless it is an already sided exercise such as “side-lying legwork”. I also want to ask that collectively we find a limited amount of flexion into our clients living life with Scoliosis.
Thinking in 3-D
A big issue in conceptualizing Scoliosis in Fitness and Physical Therapy is the problem of not thinking in 3-D. This creates a fictitious concept that lateral strengthening is “ the answer” … when in reality side bending is in almost all cases not advisable for Scoliosis!! Why? The Scoliosis spine is most mobile at its transitional vertebrae that exist between the scoliosis curves NOT within the scoliotic curve. When side bending occurs typically all of the leverage is being put on the vertebrae of transition. This is where creativity, safety, and biomechanics need to take the place of this impression that we can side bend Scoliosis away from a body.
Internal lengthening &self corrections should be learned for clients first. Next, full-body and lengthened spine position exercises are ideal for strengthening body awareness as compared with flexion focused movements. While I have seen, and also felt in my own Scoliosis a need for flexion movements intermittently, flexion is not the ideal place to experience pilates strength training movements with Scoliosis.
When clients can hold self-corrections with full-body awareness then flexion is a more approachable moment in movement. If you really think about it, that feels right for all bodies.
Everyone has their own postural needs and addressing those needs prior to jumping into certain movements. This is how I have seen bodies achieve change! Sometimes in a single session! Flexion has a place of course, but the frequency and height of the arch should always be detailed to each person.
Flexion for Release
As a Somatic approach flexion is very useful to the body and I use this, but for me there is always remaining the task of learning to be upright that makes life’s challenges very real and hopefully I’m not far off in my saying that goes for all people not just those of us with significant Scoliosis.
Be Creative, Safe, and Inspired
Hopefully, this list will allow a more full-body approach that builds core strength in non-flexion movements. Try to see the spine in relation to all the vertebrae and all parts of the body. During these movements use all the tissues, muscles, bones, body awareness, and breath to reach for balance.
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