Ever heard of the condition scoliosis? Is there someone you know suffering from scoliosis? Many might not know what it is but you are reading this means that you know that it is a condition related to the spinal cord, didn’t you? However very few know that yoga can cure this problem and so they mostly end up opting for surgery. Before we get to know more how yoga can affect this, let’s understand scoliosis better.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition of the spinal cord that bends sideways and is observed among 6 million people in the US and more than 6,00,000 visits to the doctor are due to this condition alone. It can affect any age group but is mostly found among those between 10 to 15 years.
There is a condition called as severe scoliosis which can be defined as a spine curvature sideways of more than 45 degrees and this usually treated with surgery. If the curvature is less than 45 degrees then you are lucky enough to opt for non-surgical techniques. One of these non-surgical techniques is bracing widely being used.
Every year about 30,000 children and adolescents suffering from this condition are getting a brace which is supposed to be worn for about 23 hours a day to straighten the spinal cord.
The quite popular bracing method is mostly used by adolescent girls who need to attend 40 2 hour sessions thrice a week for about 3 to 4 months. Then the patients are asked to continue exercises throughout their lives for at least 30 minutes a day.
As the scoliosis patients are mostly adolescent girls, the bracing and exercises are found to be socially awkward, physically difficult and emotionally really painful. And thus, untreated scoliosis may progress at a rate of 7% a year resulting in disability and life-threatening health risks.
Yoga To Cure Scoliosis
A new study has recently claimed that a single yoga pose if done for 90 seconds thrice a week can reduce this spine curvature in just 3 months. Now isn’t this a great news? Who would prefer surgeries if we have such wonderful option with us?
Those who did side plank pose for 90 seconds thrice a week saw improvement in their spinal curvature.
Dr. Loren Fishman is a researcher in the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons located in New York, NY. Dr. Fishman and few other researchers published some findings in the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine regarding the same about scoliosis.
According to them, the scoliosis patients should perform this side plank pose on the weaker side instead of the stronger side of the spine.
In this study, Dr. Fishman and his colleagues try to determine how effective this pose is by trying it on 25 participants of age between 14 to 85 years suffering from idiopathic scoliosis.
How To Do This Pose?
In this pose which is called as side plank, you need to lie on one side of your body keeping your knees straight and by propping up your upper body with your elbow and forearm.
First, an initial examination should be done and then an X-ray along with an evaluation by a good radiologist is a must. Then the patients are given instructions on how to do this pose.
In the first week of their study, they have asked the participants to do this pose on the side the spine was curved and hold it for 10 to 20 seconds every day. Then slowly they have asked them to increase the time and do it every day on the same side.
Dr. Fishman says that scoliosis is an asymmetrical condition and so the treatment should be done asymmetrically by posing it on the weaker side alone. This strengthens the spinal cord muscles on your convex side which is needed to help with the curve reduction. Further, he says that National Scoliosis Foundation recommends scoliosis patients to perform 25 yoga poses or asanas to help their spine curvature get straight. However, no clinical results were provided so far to support this result and so, the patients are not advised to perform these poses asymmetrically.
Then the patients’ spine curvatures were measured using a standard Cobb angle technique at the beginning and at the end of the study. Then they took X-rays once the study was complete.
On an average, all the participants in this study did this side plank pose for 1.5 minutes every day, 6.1 days a week for about 6.8 months. This yoga pose has given pretty good results and was found that about 32% improvement was there in the curvature. It was also observed that among 19 participants who did it for at least thrice a week improved their curvatures by 40.9%. Among these patients, adolescents got 49.6% improvement while adults got 38.4% improvement.
Overall, the study says that asymmetrical strengthening of the convex side of your primary curve by practicing the side plank pose regularly for as long as possible for about 6.8 months can give good results.
Other Yoga Poses To Try
Other than this side plank yoga asana or pose there are few other poses that you can do daily to cure scoliosis. Below is a small list of these asanas.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Setubandha Asana
- Bala Sana
For The Beginners
If you are a beginner then you may want to try as less and as easier poses as possible. You can try mountain pose, tree pose, cat/cow pose and child’s pose before trying those given above.
If you want to try more to get good results a little faster then you should definitely take the advice of an expert and start practicing these poses.