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The health benefits of yoga are well known, from increased flexibility and muscle strength to improved metabolism and energy. But did you know yoga’s emphasis on correct posture can also help alleviate the pain of scoliosis?
Scoliosis refers to an abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine that often causes muscle spasms and pain. Many yoga stretches have proven therapeutic for people living with scoliosis, eliminating numbness and helping relieve any discomfort.
The New York Post profiled 85-year-old Anna Pesce and I was touched by her story. Anna was living a herniated disc, scoliosis, and osteoporosis – all of which contributed to her hunched back and made everyday activities painful or even dangerous.
Despite trying everything from acupuncture to physical therapy, nothing seemed to work for Anna. It wasn’t until she almost fell climbing a set of stairs and ended up unable to walk that she discovered yoga. She had a certified yoga instructor come to her home once weekly to teach her restorative poses and after just one month, Anna was able to walk again.
These yoga stretches work by restoring a sense of physical balance. The feet, legs, and back are strengthened and practitioners can work out the muscles that prevent the rounded shoulders that other visible signs people with scoliosis often develop adjusting to the curvature of their spine.
The New York Post also quoted Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital, who agreed yoga can help some people manage painful back conditions.
Yoga can be easily tailored to match any practitioner’s abilities and need. For people living with scoliosis, this means they are able to target their goals. For some, that might be reducing a hunched back, for others, it might be to alleviate the dull, aching pain of sitting for long periods.
As with any new exercise regimen, before starting, be sure to meet with a yoga teacher – preferably one with experience helping clients with scoliosis – to learn the appropriate stretches for your body and fitness objectives.