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Best Scoliosis Exercises For Teens & Adults: That Really Work!

best scoliosis exercises for teens best scoliosis exercises for adults

There was a time when a scoliosis diagnosis was thought to mean a sedentary life of limitations, but we've since learned that it can be particularly beneficial for people with scoliosis to exercise regularly; continue reading to learn more about the types of exercises that can help teens and adults diagnosed with scoliosis.

Exercises can work for scoliosis in different ways; they can help with pain relief and general fitness, and/or scoliosis-specific exercises with corrective potential can be applied as part of treatment. Exercise recommendations are case-specific and always need to be cleared by a patient's treatment provider.

Let's start our discussion of helpful exercises for scoliosis by first touching on the role of exercise in pain relief, treatment efficacy, and its corrective potential.

Scoliosis Exercises for Pain Relief

Scoliosis involves the development of an unnatural lateral and rotational curvature of the spine, so the spine doesn't just bend unnaturally to the side, but also twists, and it's the rotational component that makes scoliosis a 3-dimensional condition that sets it apart from a number of spinal conditions.

Scoliosis is also a progressive spinal condition, meaning its nature is to get worse over time and it's incurable; it can, however, be highly treatable, especially with early detection and intervention.

Scoliosis progression is triggered by growth so counteracting rapid progression is more a focus of scoliosis treatment for teens than adults; condition's most-prevalent type is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Scoliosis Exercises: Should People With Scoliosis Avoid Certain Exercises?

Pain and Compression

Scoliosis can be painful, but back and nerve pain are far more common in adult scoliosis because the condition doesn't become compressive until skeletal maturity has been reached, and it's compression (uneven pressure) of the spine and its surrounding muscles and nerves that causes the majority of condition-related pain.

In young patients who are still growing, the constant lengthening motion of growth counteracts the unnatural spinal curve's compressive forces, but in adults, it's most often back pain, and pain that radiates into the extremities (arm and/or leg pain) due to nerve compression that brings adults in for a diagnosis and treatment.

So for teens, exercises for pain relief are not as necessary as they are for adults, but exercises that facilitate a significant curvature reduction that can counteract progression during growth are.

So scoliosis can cause pain due to compression, and exercises for scoliosis can help with keeping the spine loose and flexible, along with keeping its surrounding muscles strong and supportive, and this can help with pain relief.

Scoliosis Exercises with Corrective Potential for Treatment Efficacy

Part of the reason treatment success is associated with early detection and intervention is that the more flexible a spine is, the more responsive it can be to treatment; spinal rigidity increases alongside progression, making it less responsive to chiropractic treatment and making the condition more complex to treat.

Scoliosis exercises that are known to increase spinal mobility and flexibility can help make the spine and body more responsive to treatment, and when it comes to treatment efficacy, there are scoliosis-specific exercises known for their corrective potential.

I do want to be clear, however, that no exercise, or exercise plan, on its own will be enough to correct a scoliosis, but when designed by a scoliosis-specific corrective exercise specialist and combined with other treatment disciplines with corrective potential, scoliosis exercises can be a valuable facet of treatment.

while there are different 400General exercises for scoliosis can help with spinal flexibility, pain relief, and overall health and fitness, which does help create an environment inside the body that's more conducive to healing, but when it comes to scoliosis-specific exercises (SSEs) with corrective potential, these are exercises that can augment corrective treatment results, increase postural awareness, correct posture, address any related muscle imbalance, and activate certain areas of the brain for improvements to brain-body communication.

So when it comes to teens and adults, what are the best exercises for addressing scoliosis?

Schroth Exercises

Scoliosis-specific physical therapy is a key facet of treatment; it can help increase core strength so the spine has more support and stabilization from the back muscles.

The Schroth Method for treating scoliosis focuses on the power of physical therapy to restore muscle symmetry, proper breathing patterns, and postural awareness.

Schroth exercises are mainly performed in front of the mirror to facilitate postural awareness during treatment and beyond; the exercises are designed by a scoliosis-specific physical therapist and focus on elongating, de-rotating, and stabilizing the spine in all three dimensions.

While there are different Schroth method programs to choose between, most include personalized exercises for scoliosis that focus on rotational breathing techniques, improving spinal balance and alignment, posture, and correction.

Prone On Stool

While exercises prescribed will always be case-specific, a common Schroth method exercise is known as prone on stool, and this exercise is ideal for addressing scoliosis that develops in the thoracic or lumbar spinal sections.

To perform the prone on stool:

  1. Lie down facing the floor with the pelvis elevated by a footstool while the lower abdomen supported by a roll
  2. The lower abdomen and right shoulder should be supported by the roll for trunk stabilization
  3. While in this position, an expert guides patients in how to bilaterally rotate shoulders, elongate the trunk, the neck, and activate certain muscle groups.

This core Schroth exercise/stretch involves semi-hanging from a set of wall bars, using gravity to elongate the spine and relieve pressure on the spine's vertebrae (bones).

This stretch is easily performed by:

  1. Positioning oneself in front of the wall bars as if in a seated position (squat position)
  2. Extending the arms above and reaching up to grasp the wall bars until a stretch is felt in the back and muscles that support and stabilize the spine

This exercise is particularly good for adults for whom the condition is compressive as the deep stretch felt in the back can provide short-term pain relief by relieving discomfort from the spine and back muscles feeling excessively tight.

The Plank Exercise

While not a Schroth method exercise, planking has a number of benefits for people of all ages with scoliosis.

To plank:

  1. Lie down flat on the floor
  2. Use the hands and feet to push the body upwards so the trunk is parallel to the floor
  3. Holding the body in this position engages the core and can strengthen abdominal muscles used for spinal support and stabilization.

while not a schroth 400This exercise can be particularly good for teens with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who are working towards achieving a significant curvature reduction as maintaining core strength is crucial for handling the rigors of treatment and maintaining a healthy spinal position.

Planking is also recommended for adults as they can easily modify the length of time they hold the position, based on ability, and can benefit from the exercise's strengthening and stabilizing potential, and because it works the muscles symmetrically, it can help counteract a scoliosis muscle imbalance.

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilts are helpful for teens and adults as the pelvis and hips are important facilitators of lower body movement.

Strong core muscles mean less pressure on the spine and its individual structures, and this can help with pain relief; pelvic tilts can also help make the abdominal muscles stronger, and this benefits all ages.

In addition, pelvic tilts can help keep the pelvis strong and loose, which helps facilitate the lower body's range of movement. A misaligned scoliotic spine can mean an uneven distribution of the body's weight over the pelvis and lower body, contributing to the development of an uneconomical gait.

Pelvic tilts are performed by:

  1. Lying flat on the back (a yoga mat is ideal)
  2. Keeping the knees bent with the feet flat on the floor and the toes pointing forward
  3. While being mindful of engaging the core, pull the belly button inwards, towards the spine, until the lower back flattens into the floor below
  4. Hold the position, then relax
The Arm/Leg Raise

The arm/leg raise is good for posture, symmetry, core strength, and lower back strengthening.

Lumbar scoliosis exercises can help strengthen the lower back and its muscles; the vertebrae of the lumbar spine are vulnerable to strain and injury as they have to support the weight of the spinal sections above, the entire trunk, and they feel the effects of bending, lifting, and twisting motions.

To perform an arm leg raise:

  1. Get down on the hands and knees while keeping the spine parallel to the floor (in a straight line)
  2. The hands should be shoulder width apart and the knees bent should be aligned with the hips
  3. Extend an arm out front while extending the opposite leg out behind in a straight line
  4. Hold the position, release, and perform with the opposite arm and leg

Arm leg raises are good for patients of all ages, but they require some balance and a baseline level of spinal stability/core strength so are more commonly recommended for teens.


Regardless of age or ability, it's important for scoliosis patients to understand the benefits of maintaining a healthy activity level and a scoliosis-friendly lifestyle.

When it comes to preserving the health of the spine, maintaining a healthy weight, activity level, good posture, avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol and/or smoking, and using proper technique when lifting heavy objects is important.

When it comes to the main difference between how teens and adults experience scoliosis, we're talking about pain and compression.

Again, scoliosis doesn't become a compressive condition until skeletal maturity has been reached, so exercises for scoliosis that focus on pain relief can be more beneficial for adults; when it comes to exercises for teens, as progression is triggered by growth, counteracting progression during growth, along with significantly reducing the curve, is a focus of treatment, including the prescription of scoliosis-specific exercises.

Exercises that increase core stability for spinal support are beneficial for patients of all ages, but for adults for whom natural age-related spinal degeneration comes into play, they can be particularly helpful for relieving discomfort and increasing spinal support.

Conservative scoliosis treatment is what I offer patients of the Scoliosis Reduction Center; while a traditional scoliosis treatment approach and spinal fusion surgery still has a place in scoliosis treatment, the results of nonsurgical treatment prove that not all cases of scoliosis require surgical intervention.

When the corrective power of exercise is combined with other forms of scoliosis treatment, there are fewer limits to what can be achieved, and when treatment plans are customized, specific exercises are applied to address key patient/condition factors, such as patient age, pain, and progression.

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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