The Schroth Method: A Holistic Approach to Scoliosis Treatment
*Our office uses a highly Specialized Integrated Approach to treat scoliosis. We are NOT Schroth Certified.
By: Dr. Abe Kopolovich, DPT, MBA, JD-IP
The Schroth Method is a physical therapy approach to scoliosis treatment that has gained popularity for its effectiveness in reducing spinal curvature.
Developed by Katharina Schroth and further popularized by her daughter Christa, this method offers a nonsurgical option for scoliosis patients.
With exercises customized to each patient’s unique spine curvature, this method aims to de-rotate, elongate, and stabilize the spine in a three-dimensional plane.
In this blog, you’ll learn about the benefits of Schroth exercises, the role of muscular symmetry, rotational angular breathing, and postural awareness.
What is the Schroth Method?
The Schroth Method is a specialized and evidence-based physical therapy approach primarily used for conservative scoliosis treatment and other spinal deformities. Developed by Katharina Schroth in the 1920s, this method focuses on correcting spinal alignment, improving posture, and enhancing respiratory function through a combination of specific exercises and postural adjustments.
This method recognizes that scoliosis is a three-dimensional deformity involving the lateral curvature of the spine, rotation, and lateral deviation. It aims to address these aspects through a customized exercise program tailored to the individual’s unique spinal curvature.
During Schroth therapy sessions, patients are taught specific exercises that involve asymmetric movements, elongation of the spine, and deep breathing techniques. These exercises are designed to activate and strengthen specific muscle groups to promote better spinal alignment and stabilization.
Additionally, patients learn various postural adjustments and corrective techniques that they can integrate into their daily activities to facilitate optimal alignment and reduce spinal stress.
Understanding Schroth Exercises for Scoliosis Treatment
Scoliosis is a complex condition characterized by a sideways curve in the spine, often forming a C or an S shape. Katharina Schroth’s Method recognizes the multidimensional nature of scoliosis and tailors exercises to address the specific rotation and curvature of each individual’s spine.
One of the goals of Schroth exercises is to de-rotate, elongate, and stabilize the spine in a three-dimensional plane. Each exercise is tailored to your unique curvature of the spine and can be performed while standing, sitting, or lying down.
Props such as therapy balls, poles, and special Schroth bars can also be used to assist in correcting scoliosis. Schroth exercises, although different from person to person, include three important components: Muscular Symmetry, Rotational Angular Breathing, and Awareness of Your Posture
Muscular Symmetry: Restoring Balance in Scoliosis Treatment
By addressing muscle imbalances, Schroth exercises aim to restore balance and stability to the spine. In scoliosis, the curvature of the spine can lead to back imbalances in the muscles. One side of the back may weaken and waste away, while the other side becomes overworked and prominent.
Rotational Angular Breathing: Reshaping the Rib Cage
Rotational angular breathing is an integral component of Schroth exercises and enhances the effectiveness of the treatment.
This technique is employed to help reshape the rib cage and surrounding soft tissues. By using breathing to rotate the spine, we contribute to the overall correction of scoliosis.
Awareness of Your Posture: The First Step to Correcting Scoliosis
Postural awareness is especially important when it comes to activities of daily living. If you have scoliosis, you will always need to be mindful of the positions that may make it worse.
Katharina Schroth relied heavily on mirrors in her original practice. Mirrors helped her patients develop awareness of their posture. Being aware of the position of your spine is the first step to correcting it.
Schroth Method Effectiveness: Improved Function And Quality Of Life
Most patients see visible improvement in the degree of their spine curvature after completing a Schroth program. The length of the program may vary, but typically includes between 5 and 20 sessions.
Traditionally, the sessions were several hours long and were set in a tight daily schedule. Today, Schorth programs are usually less intense and include shorter sessions spread over a longer period.
Besides the correction of the curve, outcomes of a Schroth program may include:
- Improved posture
- Improved core stability and strength
- Easier breathing
- Less pain
- Improved overall movement pattern and function
- Improved self-management and understanding of the spine
- Better pelvis alignment
The main goal of Schroth exercises is to prevent scoliosis from advancing. Depending on your age, bone maturity and the degree of curvature, bracing may also be a part of the treatment. Schroth-specific breathing complements the bracing as children are taught to breathe within their custom brace.
Managing scoliosis with the Schroth Method and bracing may be an option for patients who want to avoid surgery. However, a long-term commitment to the Schroth scoliosis treatment guidelines is necessary to make this treatment successful.
Schroth Method Therapists
It’s worth noting that the Schroth Method requires specialized training and certification for physical therapists to ensure proper application and effectiveness in clinical practice.
Some scoliosis exercises to straighten the spine can be performed at home, but it is important to work with a therapist to ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly. If you are looking for the Schroth Method in New York, our clinic offers specialized physical therapy for scoliosis treatment.
Our Schroth Method therapists are trained to provide customized scoliosis treatment physical therapy tailored to your unique curvature of the spine. Schedule an appointment with our experienced therapists to begin your journey towards a straighter spine.