How much exercise should you be doing with Scoliosis?

Sep 19, 2019

Scoliosis is a curve of the spine, presenting as either a single, ‘c’, curve or double, ‘s’, curve. Scoliosis can impact people in different ways depending on which part of the backbone, or spine, is affected.

This spinal curve can occur at any age and in some sufferers can cause severe pain, particularly if the rib cage becomes twisted causing breathing difficulties, or where muscles are tight.

Should I exercise with Scoliosis?

If you have Scoliosis you may feel that you can’t or shouldn’t exercise. Perhaps because you’re worried it will hurt or you’ll cause further damage.

And while this could be true for traditional fitness exercises, there are therapeutic exercises – those that focus on rehabilitation - that could help to improve your symptoms as long as they’re carried out in the right way.

I often find that those who come to me with Scoliosis are nervous of exercise and, where the condition has occurred late on, feel they’ll no longer be able to get as much out of a workout as they used to.

What will I learn from this Scoliosis tutorial?

In this week’s tutorial I’m looking at how you should approach exercise if you have Scoliosis as well as providing scientifically backed guidelines for how often and how long you should exercise and to what intensity.

These guidelines comes from my own experience as a coach and an article from the Journal of Scoliosis entitled The Scientific Exercise approach to Scoliosis: A Modern and Effective Evidence Based Approach to Physiotherapic Specific Scoliosis Exercises, which you may be interested to read. 

I won’t be looking at specific exercises in this video – but see my previous blogs,  7 stretches to help alleviate Scoliosis and 5 exercises to help improve Scoliosis for more information.

Let’s talk about mindset

When working with those with Scoliosis one of the first things we need to overcome is the approach to exercise, or the mindset with which you go into a training session.

Exercising with Scoliosis isn’t about traditional fitness exercises and tiring yourself out or fatiguing your muscles. It’s about gradually learning better techniques and better postures and practicing these on repeat until they become second nature.

This won’t happen overnight, it may take a really long time, but in the end, with perseverance you should find you stand up just that little bit taller or your spine looks noticeably straighter.

This mindset is one I work on with many of my rehabilitation patients, including those suffering from back or knee injuries, not just Scoliosis.   

Exercise guidelines for Scoliosis

When putting in place a programme for Scoliosis we should work through 4 stages:

  1. Control - seeking better alignment
  2. Repetition – reprogramming the brain
  3. Individuality – adapting the programme to suit
  4. Progression – gradual change over time

You’ll find out more about these four stages in the video above.

It’s important that as you begin to push your muscles and challenge their flexibility you don’t overdo it. Instead bring them back to a relaxed state regularly, seeking slow and steady improvement as opposed to quick change.

How often and how much should I exercise with Scoliosis?

If you have Scoliosis, I always suggest moderate to low intensity workouts three times per week for 45 minutes or 5-7 times per week for around 20-25 minutes.

Remember the exercises you do should focus on stabilising the spine and learning how to protect it while you’re carrying out a range of everyday movements. You may not feel like you’ve had a good workout after these sessions, but with time and perseverance you can be confident you are slowly but surely progressing in the right direction.  

These are the guidelines I follow in all my online and face to face training programmes – find out more about my online Scoliosis program here

And why not sign up to my newsletter for regular tips and tools to help you overcome low back pain, increase core strength and stability and improve posture.

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