Schroth Method: Your Scoliosis Treatment Option
Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes an abnormal spine curvature. Instead of having a straight line running down the spine, scoliosis causes it to twist or curve to the side. The severity of this condition varies and can range from mild to severe.
Unfortunately, scoliosis is often progressive, meaning that it will worsen over time. Although there is no cure, there are a variety of treatment solutions that can help stop progression and even improve the condition.
While surgery is an option, it should only be considered as a last resort due to its invasive nature. Non-invasive solutions, such as bracing and scoliosis-specific therapy programs, are less risky options.
There are several scoliosis-specific therapy programs that are proven to be effective, but one that has stood out over the years is the Schroth Method, which is a 3D approach tailored to each patient’s specific curvature that aims to realign the spine and prevent the progression of scoliosis.
What Is Schroth Therapy?
The Schroth method was developed by Katerina Schroth, who was born in 1894 with scoliosis. She was forced to wear a steel brace as a child. Because she grew tired of wearing the brace, she began looking for other solutions.
She started experimenting with various breathing techniques and overcorrection exercises and eventually developed her own approach. She opened two separate institutions, both of which treated scoliosis patients using her techniques. These techniques are still used today as part of a therapy program named after her — The Schroth Method.
Today, the Schroth Method has become one of the most widely used scoliosis-specific therapy programs. It is based on the idea that scoliosis patients can learn to control their own curvature and prevent it from progressing.
The non-invasive program is customized to address each patient’s unique spinal curvature. It focuses on straightening, elongating, and stabilizing the spine in a three-dimensional plane. This is achieved via exercises that help to restore muscular symmetry, breathing techniques, and posture awareness.
Benefits Of Schroth Physical Therapy
It’s important to note that Schroth physical therapy differs slightly from traditional physical therapy. Although traditional physical therapy can stop progression in smaller curves, it won’t be able to correct them. It’s also less effective for spinal curves that twist (known as torsion).
Schroth physical therapy, on the other hand, takes a 3D approach tailored to the patient’s unique curve. As a result, Schroth physical therapy can not only help stop progression in larger curves, but it can also correct the curve in many cases. With that in mind, the following is a brief list of benefits that can be attained through Schroth Physical Therapy:
- Can be customized to each individual’s scoliosis curve
- Suitable for patients of all ages
- Exercises can be performed at home
- Improves posture and balance
- Increases spinal flexibility
- Relieves pain caused by scoliosis
- Improves breathing capacity
- Strengthens core muscles
- Provides greater overall muscle strength and endurance
- Scoliosis prevention
- Can prevent the need for invasive surgical procedures
The Two Phases Of The Schroth Therapy
There are two phases of the Schroth Method: the first phase is a period of correction, and the second phase is a period of stabilization. Remember that these two phases will differ for each patient since the Schroth method uses personalized exercises and breathing techniques tailored to the severity of each patient’s curve and other factors.
Phase 1: Positioning The Body
The first phase of the Schroth Method focuses on positioning the body for correction. A therapist will show the patient how to align their body correctly to maintain good spinal correction.
For instance, they will manually show the patient how to place their feet, set their pelvis, adjust weight bearing and angles, align their rib cage over their pelvis, and position their head over their ribs.
The therapist will show the patient these things in front of a mirror so that they can learn how to maintain these postural positions on their own.
Phase 2: Activation
Once the therapist has shown the patient how to correct their posture, they will focus on creating an exercise program that will help to activate those corrections; meaning that they will show the patient how to perform specific exercises that will help to keep the spine in its corrected position.
The goal of these exercises is to allow the patient to maintain their posture without any assistance from a therapist. They should also be able to perform the Schroth exercises independently, as these exercises are designed to help maintain the correction of their spine.
The therapist will monitor the patient’s progress throughout this phase to ensure they improve gradually and correctly.
Who Would Benefit From This Treatment?
The Schroth Method is effective for patients of all ages. It’s also effective for treating patients with any type of scoliosis, whether it’s mild or severe, as well as kyphosis. It’s worth noting that Schroth therapy doesn’t have to be done in place of other treatments.
For example, it’s commonly prescribed to patients undergoing bracing. Additionally, even if the spinal curvature is so severe that it requires surgery, Scroth therapy can still be helpful. In fact, it’s been shown that patients who undergo Scroth therapy before surgery have better results than those who don’t.
Schroth Exercises For Scoliosis: How Does It Work?
When activating the corrections taught in the first phase, Schroth exercises are used to help train the patient’s muscles to maintain correct posture. The following are the three types of Schroth exercises:
These exercises focus on helping the patient become aware of any differences in muscle tension between their left and right sides and then working to even out those differences.
These exercises will also help improve flexibility and strength in muscles that may have become weak due to scoliosis. When the spine bends one way, one side of the muscles will be overused in an attempt to compensate, while the other side may become weak due to a lack of use.
A combination of active and passive stretching will typically be prescribed to help achieve muscular symmetry:
- Active stretching: The patient is taught how to actively stretch the muscles around their spine to reduce their curve and improve flexibility. This is done by moving the body in ways that target the muscles around the spine. Active stretches are prescribed and taught based on the patient’s curve, flexibility, and pain levels.
- Passive stretching: Where active stretching requires using one muscle group to stretch another, passive stretching uses an external force to perform the stretch.
For example, laying on your back and holding your leg straight up using the strength of that leg is an active stretch. Doing the same thing but holding your leg straight up using a towel or a band is a passive stretch. Passive stretching helps to relax the muscles around the spine, allowing for better flexibility and alignment.
Rotational Angular Breathing
Rotational angular breathing techniques involve breathing in a manner that will help to reshape the rib cage and surrounding soft tissue, thereby addressing the torsion in the spine. The breathing techniques taught as part of the Schroth method can also help patients suffering from reduced lung volumes and other issues that cause breathing problems due to severe scoliosis.
Awareness Of Your Posture
Posture awareness is taught as part of the Schroth Method to help patients correct any incorrect postures or habits that could exacerbate their scoliosis. The goal is to help the patient become conscious of when they are in an incorrect position and retrain their bodies to achieve a more correct posture.
Prevent Scoliosis From Progressing
The Schroth Method is an effective and non-invasive treatment for scoliosis. It can help stop the progression of the condition, correct existing spinal curves, and improve your quality of life by reducing scoliosis-related symptoms, such as pain, a lack of mobility, and breathing problems.
At Square One Health, we are proud to offer a comprehensive Schroth program for our patients. Our experienced scoliosis specialists can provide personalized treatment plans and guidance to help ensure the best possible outcomes.
Are you experiencing the symptoms of scoliosis? Schedule a free scoliosis evaluation today.