Evaluating the Schroth Method

Once you start looking at the whole area of scoliosis and  conditions like Scheuermann’s disease you inevitably end up  reviewing the work of  Christa Lehnert-schroth and her  “Three-dimensional Treatment for Scoliosis”

Over the next few months we will evaluate and practice some of the aspects of this  method and look at the 3 segment concept , scoliotic breathing patterns. We might as well throw in sun and air now!

Exercise out doors whenever possible. “Many people need clean living air, more than nutrition.  Next to natural nutrition, air, light and sun are the best physiological means to stimulate  and increase the  body’s defences” (Bottomberg).  As someone who trains in a railway arch in East London I would endorse fresh air wouldn’t I!

Handstands for scoliosis and back pain

I have a belief that handstands have a  role is developing the Core and aiding spinal mechanics. However, Im sure this has not been studied in any depth. The aim of this review is simply to collect enough evidence from easily accessible sources  to justify experimenting with my clients.

Whilst Im not sure about many of her recommendations, it was interesting to note that Sarah Key recommends the handstand for her scoliosis patients.

“the best specific strengthening exercise is handstands….. being upside down it literally tricks both sides of the para-spinal muscles into working equally hard in keeping you upright and balanced”

According to site that sells inversion tables, “In mild cases of Scoliosis, research and clinical studies have shown that inversion tables and regular exercise can have a positive effect on treating the physical defect. Unfortunately, inversion therapy has not been shown to effectively treat Scoliosis in severe cases”

BTW, I’m not validating passively hanging upside down. The benefit of  a handstand is that your body needs to be the tightest its ever been.

The “Mindbodygreen” blog by Heidi Kristoffer discusses that handstands can heal, but to avoid headstands! I must admit, I’ve never been a headstand fan!

Whilst this is far from anything resembling science, hanging people upside down , making them handstand, seems  not to kill people, so it may be worth experimenting with,  as long as  a proper posture ( neutral spine) is maintained. .

I’m assuming that I’ll develop the handstand from a good plank position, then walk it slowly up the wall!

I should say, I think that handstands will help IF people have adequate shoulder flexibility: hanging in an awful arch could do harm

Scoliosis Review: some reports

Regular readers will know that is was my intention to  conduct a lot of research on scoliosis and then publish some results. I am however, getting quite a lot of interest, so rather than sit on research , Ill publish thoughts and theories as i come across reports and Journals;  There is a risk that i can publish something that could be wrong and need to correct it later  However, the  value in people feeding back, digging out reports or treatments,  is worth a  possible public U turn!


Andrew  Stemler ( andrew@crossfitlondonuk.com)

Is physical activity contraindicated for individuals with scoliosis? A systematic literature review

[Sports capacity of patients with scoliosis].

von Strempel A, Scholz M, Daentzer M

Sportverletz Sportschaden. 1993 Jun; 7(2):58-62.

Cobb angle less than 20. No  restrictions

For curves of 20° to 30°, they recommended restriction from what they call  performance sport; but school sports and competitive sports were allowed.

For curves of 30° to 50° or 20° to 30° with progression of 5° in 6 months, they allowed school sports with patients wearing a brace

Recommended these sports,:horseback riding, tennis, table tennis but not “performance sport or competitive sports at club level”. competitive sports allowed at school under the watchful eye of a teacher. For curves of 50° or more, they  recommended endurance sports (eg, cycling, swimming, hiking, jogging)”

Idiopathic scoliosis and spondylolysis in the female athlete. Tips for treatment.

Omey ML, Micheli LJ, Gerbino PG 2nd

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2000 Mar; (372):74-84.

Scoliosis is not a contraindication to participation in sports and asserted that, unless a scoliosis was severe, it would not reduce physical function..

“Scoliosis is not a contraindication to participation in sports by the young athlete”; and they suggested  examination for underlying pathology (eg, syringomyelia, disk herniation, degenerative spinal disease) if pain accompanied scoliosis.

They also encouraged active strengthening and flexibility exercises for the spine during brace wearing and maintained that sports may be played while the athlete was not wearing a brace. Specifically asserted that swimming and water activity may be helpful to maintain flexibility, strength, and endurance.

Professional volleyball should be avoided, but recreational/amateur volleyball is acceptable.

Spinal deformity in the adolescent athlete.

Wood KB

Clin Sports Med. 2002 Jan; 21(1):77-92.

 “There is no objective evidence in the literature to suggest that active participation in any sport is directly associated with worsening of scoliotic curvatures beyond that of the natural history of the disorder.”

Recommended active exercise for  brace wearers  and encouraged brace wearing during exercise. No study exists showing negative effects of contact sports on the curve of a braced individual.  He encouraged  all athletics  out of a brace, not only for physical benefit, but for psychologic and social well-being!

Spinal deformity and athletics.

Schiller JR, Eberson CP

Sports Med Arthrosc. 2008 Mar; 16(1):26-31.

Recommends flexibility training and indicated that patients with scoliosis treated non-operatively can participate in all sporting activities.

Sport participation while wearing a brace was allowed and that sport participation out of a brace was also possible.

Conditioning should focus on flexibility of the spine and core strengthening and felt that the addition of plyometrics and power lifting after appropriate conditioning was acceptable. Athletes with scoliosis should be encouraged to participate in sport.

For postoperative patients, they maintained that sports participation should be at the discretion of the surgeon.

They did not recommend against torque sports for postoperative patients (eg, gymnastics, ballet, swimming, wrestling, javelin), as had previous authors.