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  • Writer's pictureJeanine Yutani

Adults have scoliosis, too - Scolio-Pilates can help!

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Scoliosis, a condition which causes the spine to curve left, right or both (more than 10 degrees), affects people of all ages, from children to the elderly. Studies have shown that spinal curves are found in 3 to 5% of children and adolescents, but research is now showing that scoliosis is much more prevalent in adults than previously realized.

Over 20% of all adults in general have scoliosis. More than 40% of those over 60 and nearly 70% of adults over age 70 have significant curves in their spine. Adult scoliosis varies in origin, but the most common cause seems to be from degenerative changes in the spine due to age-related arthritis and disc changes. Some adults likely had scoliosis present in childhood which may or may not have been discovered until adulthood.

The great news is that the vast majority adult scoliosis cases can largely be managed through positive lifestyle practices:

  • Work closely with your doctor or healthcare provider. Whether through X-rays, medication or otherwise, your healthcare provider will be a key member of your team in managing your spine health throughout your life.

  • If you smoke, stop! Smoking has been shown to speed up the degenerative process and puts your spine further at risk.

  • Stay active with proper exercise. Your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy to help relieve pain or discomfort, and may recommend a low-impact exercise program to help improve core strength and posture. It’s important to select an appropriate exercise program that you enjoy and that doesn’t make your back uncomfortable.

  • Surgical treatment is typically the last resort. If surgery is necessary to help manage your curve, prehab and rehab (meaning exercise and/or physical therapy) are often an important part of the process. Amazing advances in surgical techniques make procedures less invasive and have sped up recovery times.

There are some key points I encourage all my clients, Pilates trainees and instructors to remember about scoliosis.

  • Scoliosis really can’t be prevented. Most cases of scoliosis are classified as “idiopathic,” meaning the cause is simply unknown. Degenerative scoliosis is a condition that occurs as the body ages. And many adolescent forms of scoliosis happen as the skeleton grows. While there are things we can do to help manage a curve once we notice it, it’s important to remember that you didn’t do anything to create or cause or curve (or your child’s curve).

  • You can live really well with scoliosis! Non-operative treatments (like exercise and physical therapy), avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight can be extremely helpful in managing your curve. And if surgery is ultimately needed to improve your quality of life, the results are typically very good.

  • There are so many amazing resources available! In addition to amazing healthcare professionals who care for the spine health of people of all ages, there are other programs that can help. Scolio-Pilates is one of those programs. Created by Karena Thek, the Scolio-Pilates program comes down to a few simple basics: 1) move the spine towards neutral, 2) add length to the spine, 3) add strengthening techniques, 4) breathe. How wonderfully simple is that?

After more than 15 years taking or training in just about every Pilates for scoliosis exercise program out there, I can’t believe the results I’ve personally had using Scolio-Pilates - or the results I’ve seen with my clients. As a Scolio-Pilates practitioner, I’ve been able to share her methods with hundreds of clients over the years and the results speak for themselves!

If you suffer from back pain, if you’ve noticed one shoulder or hip is higher than the other, if you’ve noticed that you've “gotten shorter” over the years, or if you were told you had scoliosis as a child, contact Via Pilates to book a series of Introductory Privates with me, Jeanine Yutani. Not only am I a Scolio-Pilates Practitioner and Balanced Body Master Instructor…I’ve also had scoliosis since childhood that has progressed as an adult. Yes, scoliosis sometimes causes me some back and neck pain, and my ribs/hips/shoulders are a little wonky (or as I say "creatively organized"), but I’m forever grateful I met Karena Thek because Scolio-Pilates has been the key to helping me manage and maintain my spine. (P.S. If your teen has scoliosis, remember to ask us about our Scolio-Pilates for Teens program.)

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