Exercise for Scoliosis – An Introduction to Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises
By Rosemary Marchese, Physiotherapist
What exercise is appropriate and safe for scoliosis? What is considered treatment and what is not? There are so many questions that need answers when considering what exercise to choose when you have scoliosis. In this section of the website we will be aiming to give you lots of information. To start with however, I thought I would introduce you to the world of PSSE – Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises.
What is PSSE?
As the name suggests, Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises are exercises specific for scoliosis. Many children and adults with scoliosis around the world are practicing PSSE. You can do PSSE even if you wear a brace or even if you are preparing for surgery.
PSSE are taught by physiotherapists/physical therapists around the world. One of the main aims of scoliosis specific exercises should be to help you correct your posture in a three dimensional way. You may also be given exercises that are relevant to your life. For example, if you love to play netball, your physical therapist may include some scoliosis specific exercises that involve using a netball. The therapist will also try to make sure you understand your curve and that you can stabilise any posture improvements that you make! If you wear a brace, then you can learn to hold your posture better in your brace too!
Are PSSE the same as Sport?
You do not have to stop sport just because you have Idiopathic Scoliosis. However, PSSE and sport are not the same. Sport is a great way to keep active and fit, and is often a very great support to your treatment. The more active you are the better in many situations! PSSE is specific therapy for scoliosis.
What are the Goals of Exercise Therapy or PSSE?
The main aims of the therapy will to try and stop your curve progressing, and in some cases the curve may improve. There is no cure but you can learn to stabilise your posture, work to improve your breathing and try to reduce any pain if you have any. The exercises may improve your posture too.
How to find a PSSE Physiotherapist
If you are thinking of including PSSE as part of your approach to scoliosis you will need your parents or guardians to do some research in your local area. Not all areas will have therapists trained in PSSE. However it may be possible to contact your closest therapist to organise some intensive visits where you can visit and learn as much as you can before going home to practice. It may not be as ideal as seeing a therapist regularly but at least you would be getting some of the support you desire. Stay tuned for future posts on more suggestions in this area! In the meantime, stay fit and healthy!
- Negrini et al, (2018). 2016 SOSORT guidelines: orthopaedic and rehabilitation treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during growth. Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders Volume 13, Article number: 3 (2018)