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What Are The Best Scoliosis Exercises for Children?

Best Scoliosis Exercises for Children

When it comes to treating scoliosis in children, being proactive is key; as a progressive condition triggered by growth, children are the most at risk for rapid-phase progression, particularly adolescents going through puberty. A scoliosis-specific exercise regimen is an important facet of treatment; continue reading to learn more about the role of exercise in treatment.

The best exercises for children with scoliosis have corrective potential. Scoliosis-specific exercises can help counteract the condition's progressive nature by improving posture, spinal strength, flexibility, mobility, and by keeping the spine's surrounding muscles strong and supportive.

Before discussing the specifics of scoliosis exercises for children, let's first talk generally about childhood scoliosis.

Understanding Childhood Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a complex spinal condition that involves the development of an unnatural sideways-bending and rotating spinal curve, and as a progressive condition, the nature of scoliosis is to get worse over time.

Scoliosis ranges widely in severity from mild scoliosis to moderate and severe to very severe scoliosis, and this is also the condition's progressive line; where a child's scoliosis is at the time of diagnosis isn't indicative of where it will stay.

There are also different types of scoliosis, determined by causation, and scoliosis affects all ages from babies to infants, juveniles to adolescents, and adults who have reached skeletal maturity and face natural age-related spinal degeneration.

The most common type of scoliosis to affect both children and adults is idiopathic scoliosis: not clearly associated with a single-known cause.

Idiopathic scoliosis accounts for approximately 80 percent of known diagnosed cases, and the remaining 20 percent are associated with known causes: neuromuscular scoliosis, congenital scoliosis, and degenerative scoliosis.

The most prevalent type of scoliosis overall is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 18, so this is the type of childhood scoliosis we'll focus on.

While we don't understand what causes the majority of scoliosis cases to develop initially, we do understand what triggers scoliosis to get worse, and that's growth.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients are the most at risk for rapid-phase progression due to the unpredictable and rapid growth spurts associated with puberty.

There is no way of knowing exactly which cases of scoliosis will progress quickly and which won't, but we do know that the more growth a patient has to go through, the more potential progression they're faced with, and we also know that the more severe a condition, the more likely it is to continue progressing, and females are more likely to progress faster than males.

When it comes to diagnosing adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, while there are never treatment guarantees, with early detection and intervention, there are fewer limits to what can be achieved, but being proactive is important so the condition's progressive nature can be counteracted.

The goal of treating adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is to reduce the scoliotic curve and hold the reduction despite the constant progressive trigger of growth.

Each case of scoliosis is unique, and condition severity is an important factor when it comes to how noticeable a condition's effects are, but in general, the earliest telltale signs of scoliosis in children involve postural deviation.

Scoliosis introduces a lot of uneven forces to the spine, its surrounding muscles and nerves, and the entire body, and these uneven forces can affect the body in a number of ways: by disrupting the body's natural symmetry, for example.

Scoliosis in Children and Treatment Options

In many cases, the earliest signs of scoliosis are often uneven shoulders and hips, and additional changes can include:

  • An uneven eye-line
  • A head that seems uncentered over the torso
  • Uneven shoulder blades
  • The development of a rib cage arch
  • Arms and legs that don't hang evenly

In addition to the aforementioned postural changes, disruptions to balance, coordination, and gait are also common.

As adolescents are in, or are entering into, the stage of puberty, being proactive means applying a proactive treatment approach with corrective potential, and exercises for scoliosis are an important facet of a conservative scoliosis treatment approach.

Exercises for Scoliosis as Part of Treatment

I do want to be 400I do want to be clear that no one treatment discipline, exercise included, is enough to address scoliosis on every level the way it needs to be to achieve corrective treatment results.

As a complex 3-dimensional spinal condition, scoliosis has to be impacted on multiple levels; it's rotational component has to be addressed, its underlying structural nature needs to be addressed, and the health and strength of the spine's surrounding muscles has to be improved, along with postural awareness and improving brain-body communication.

It's not just the spine that has to maintain its natural curves and alignment; it also relies on its surrounding muscles to provide it with essential support and stabilization, and this is where scoliosis-specific exercises as part of physical therapy come in.

Physical Therapy and Scoliosis-Specific Exercises

As scoliosis progresses, this means the size of the unnatural spinal curve is increasing, and this makes the spine increasingly rigid, making it less responsive to treatment, and harder for patients to perform key therapeutic exercises as part of treatment, hence the benefit of starting treatment before significant progression has already occurred.

Working towards corrective treatment results means the unnatural spinal curve is going to be corrected on a structural level, and this involves condition-specific chiropractic care that uses a number of techniques and manual adjustments to adjust the position of the curve's most-tilted vertebrae at its apex back into alignment with the rest of the spine.

Chiropractic care impacts the condition's underlying structural nature, while physical therapy and scoliosis exercises can help impact the condition on a muscular level.

When designed by a scoliosis-specific physical therapist and integrated into a proactive and multifaceted treatment approach, exercises for scoliosis can help increase spinal support and stability by strengthening the spine's surrounding muscles, encouraging postural awareness, maintaining muscular symmetry, and activating specific areas of the brain for improved brain-body communication.

SEAS and the Schroth Method

when design by a 400It's difficult to pinpoint the best exercises for scoliosis in children because each case is unique, and exercise recommendations address specific patient/condition factors that vary from patient to patient.

SEAS (scientific exercises approach to scoliosis treatment) and the Schroth method emphasize the importance of postural awareness, core stability, proper spinal alignment, and the benefit of rotational angular breathing.

SEAS is an individualized exercise program that uses functional exercises to help patients with self-correction by using reflexes to stimulate neuromotor function and postural improvement.

Exercises can involve stretching and moving in opposition to the unnatural spinal curve in an effort to hold the spine in a corrective position through mirror image retraining: self-correction.

Schroth exercises can help address rotation, elongate and stabilize the spine through combining breathing, strength training, and postural awareness.

Exercises that are commonly used in the treatment of childhood scoliosis include the pelvic tilt, the cat-camel, a double leg abdominal press, a single leg balance, and planking.

Pelvic tilts can help keep the pelvis and hips loose, flexible, and strong, so they can support the lumbar spine and lower body movement, while the cat-camel pose can help increase spinal mobility by stretching tight back muscles; a double leg abdominal press can help engage the core muscles to improve posture and core stability, while a single leg balance performed in front of a mirror can help improve balance, spinal alignment, and postural awareness.

Planking can be also helpful by increasing the strength of the entire body with specific benefits to core strength and stability.


I can't state which specific exercises are best for children with scoliosis because the answer is case-specific, but there are a variety of scoliosis-specific exercises and stretches that are commonly used as part of a conservative scoliosis treatment approach.

Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, exercises are a big part of treatment, whether as part of SEAS, or the Schroth method, or simply as part of a scoliosis-specific physical therapy program, when combined with other forms of treatment such as chiropractic care, corrective bracing, and rehabilitation, they can help improve posture, neurological function, spinal strength, flexibility, mobility, alignment, and stability.

As the complex nature of scoliosis necessitates the full customization of effective treatment plans, muscle imbalances and weak stomach muscles can be improved with exercise, and even after treatment is completed, as an incurable progressive condition, scoliosis treatment is more about managing an ongoing condition than reaching a fixed cure, and exercises are an important part of maintaining a scoliosis-friendly lifestyle.

An unnatural spinal curvature of the spine should be taken seriously, particularly in children because as growth is the condition's progressive trigger, young patients are at risk for continued progression, and the more severe a condition gets, the more complex it is to treat, and the more difficult it is to reverse its effects.

If scoliosis is severe and/or is left untreated in children, increasing postural changes are common, and increasing condition effects can cause complications such as disruptions to lung function, respiratory issues, digestive issues, migraines, and more.

Most children who are diagnosed early and receive conservative treatment started early in the condition's progressive line can be treated successfully without invasive spinal surgery.

When the right exercises are designed by a scoliosis physical therapist and specifically address key patient/condition variables, they can help increase spinal mobility, flexibility, alignment, core strength, core stability, and improve posture to facilitate corrective treatment results.

Ready to discuss next steps for scoliosis treatment? Reach out to us here.
Dr. Tony Nalda
Doctor of Chiropractic
Severe migraines as a young teen introduced Dr. Nalda to chiropractic care. After experiencing life changing results, he set his sights on helping others who face debilitating illness through providing more natural approaches.

After receiving an undergraduate degree in psychology and his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life University, Dr. Nalda settled in Celebration, Florida and proceeded to build one of Central Florida’s most successful chiropractic clinics.

His experience with patients suffering from scoliosis, and the confusion and frustration they faced, led him to seek a specialty in scoliosis care. In 2006 he completed his Intensive Care Certification from CLEAR Institute, a leading scoliosis educational and certification center.
About Scoliosis Reduction Center
Welcome to Scoliosis Reduction Center. Our team, under the leadership of Dr. Tony Nalda, is focused on treating your scoliosis in the most patient-centered, effective manner possible.
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