Can yoga improve scoliosis?
According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, the condition scoliosis occurs when the spine curves to the side, affecting nearly 6 million people in the U.S. And each year, about 30,000 children and adolescents with scoliosis wear a brace for roughly 23 hours a day to help them straighten their spines as they grow.
A recent study published in the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine claims that performing a single yoga position can help reduce spine curvature for those with scoliosis.
Dr. Loren Fishman, and his colleagues from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, recently conducted a study that involved 25 patients ages 14 to 85 with idiopathic scoliosis. During the process, each participant performed a side plank for 90 seconds for at least 3 days a week. As a result, the researchers found a 32 percent improvement on spine curvature in the patients who completed this exercise routine over a three month period.
Maggie Viggiano, a physical therapist and ergonomics consultant at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., says that there isn’t a known cause in scoliosis, but there seems to be a genetic tendency and is more predominant in females.
“There is a difference between functional and structural scoliosis also,” Viggiano says. “Older mature adults with late onset scoliosis may be due to weakening of spinal musculature or bony changes but again there is no good research or conclusive reason that someone ends up with scoliosis.”
Colleen Eggers, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor also at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, says that there are many benefits to yoga including strength training and flexibility.
“When focusing on strength training and flexibility yoga is an incredible benefit to your body,” Eggers says. “The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside-out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good too.”
Eggers also provides these four other benefits of yoga including:
- Breathing benefits: Yoga usually involves paying attention to your breath, which can help you relax. It may also call for specific breathing techniques.
- Less stress, more calm: You may feel less stressed and more relaxed after doing some yoga. Some yoga styles use meditation techniques that help calm the mind. Focusing on your breathing during yoga can do that, too.
- Healing benefits: Yoga can heal various types of back pains including healing injured back muscles, decreasing time to recover from an injury, preventing re-injury, and helping maintain a regular level of daily activities.
- Yoga is good for your heart: Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure or heart disease, and people who’ve had a stroke.
Researchers said in a statement, “Asymmetrically strengthening the convex side of the primary curve with daily practice of the side plank pose held for as long as possible for an average of 6.8 months significantly reduced the angle of primary scoliotic curves. These results warrant further testing.”
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