View Full Version : Can Yoga/Pilates Make Scoliosis Worse?

12-28-2012, 08:18 PM
I came across something written by a Dr. Stitzel on www.fixscoliosis.com that seems to say that exercises that extend the spine can actually make the curve worse (unless I'm really misunderstanding something):

"Several studies have identified activities such as ballet, competitive swimming, and rhythmic gymnastics has having significantly higher risk of developing severe scoliosis. While it isnít entirely clear what these groups all have in common, experts feel it may be related to the excessive and repeated hyper-extension of the thoracic spine (mid back). These repeated ďback bendsĒ have a flattening effect on the thoracic spine which leaves the mid back more vulnerable to the dorsal sheer forces seen in progressive scoliosis. Some yoga/Pilates for scoliosis poses re-produce the same thoracic back bends effect and could cause a patient with a thoracic spinal curvature to get worse. This isnít to say scoliosis patients canít participate in yoga/Pilates, nor receive benefit from such an activity, but they must avoid any poses that causes a flattening or hyper-extension (back bends) of the mid back."

I would think spine-extending exercises would help your curve and improve posture as well. This is confusing, as is so much else about scoliosis.

12-28-2012, 08:30 PM
1. Stizel is a chiro. Chiros have no training in dealing with scoliosis. Board certified orthopedic surgeons are the only people in town with relevant training.

2. It is probably not the movements in those sports that cause/affect scoliosis. It is more likely that people with connective tissue disorders that are associated with scoliosis excel at those sports and therefore are over-represented, especially at the higher levels, in those sports. That's my opinion.

12-28-2012, 08:36 PM
Take for example swimming. Phelps, the most decorated Olympian, is presently being monitored for emergent Marfans syndrome to my understanding. He does not have scoliosis but Marfans is associated with scoliosis. It's not that the swimming might cause scoliosis ins Marfans patients; It is that they have longer arm spans and generally long "waterlines" (tall) and so have a competitive advantage in swimming over people who do not have those characteristics that are associated with Marfans.

Volleyball... Flo Hyman... very tall due to Marfans and very successful player. Sadly, she died of an aortic dissection associated with Marfans.

In both cases - swimming and volleyball, the sports don't cause the scoliosis or the dilated aorta. The syndrome does and the syndrome also has a body type that gives these athletes in these sports an advantage.

It's important to always try to think logically and clearly.

12-29-2012, 01:29 PM
Thanks, everyone.