The Schroth method is a conservative physical therapy practice for individuals with scoliosis. It can be used to treat scoliosis patients of all ages and in all stages of treatment; before surgery, after surgery and especially, if surgery is not indicated. Through specific exercises and corrective breathing techniques, the method aims to elongate the trunk and correct the imbalances of the body. By developing the inner muscles of the rib cage, the method changes the shape of the upper trunk to correct any spinal abnormalities. The result is a decrease in pain, slowing or halting of the curvature progression, and improved cardio-pulmonary function, mobility, and postural stability.
The system of exercises for scoliosis was developed in Germany in 1927 by Katherina Schroth, who was researching treatments for her own scoliosis condition. By the 1960s, the Schroth Method had become the standard non-surgical treatment for scoliosis. Schroth treatment is currently supported all over Europe and has gained a very strong reputation in the United States.
The exercises are determined by the curve patterns and severity, as well as the patientís age and level of function and fitness. They are designed to create awareness of posture and alignment through proper positioning and repetition. The patient is taught certain positions that will allow expansion of the flattened chest and back areas. Along with prominence of their ribs, many scoliosis patients have flattening of their backs, lumbar spine or pelvis as a result of the curvature. We encourage exercises that improve the flat back, restore the alignment of the pelvis and reduce the protruded areas of the trunk.
Once the patient becomes familiar with their individual curve pattern and the principles of the corrections, the method offers many positions that will apply all of the concepts in the same manner, making the program easy to follow.
The exercises can be performed while sitting on a ball, lying face down, lying face up, or on their sides, as well as in different standing postures using poles or bars that have been secured to a wall.
The Schroth therapist guides the patient with tactile stimulus so that they may get a sense of where they need to breathe into their collapsed areas, and where they need to elongate and tense their muscles to create muscle activation in the direction of the corrections.
By visualizing and feeling the parts of their body respond to their breathing, the patient learns a new way to breathe and align their body. Working with mirrors, the patient receives new visual information and is asked to remember how the alignment and corrections feel. Following detailed vocal guides from the therapist, the patient is then able to maintain the correct posture and practice it in various positions and in their daily activities.
After completing an intensive training with a Schroth therapist, the patient is then able to perform their exercises at home. Continuation of therapy is recommended to improve the learning and performance of these exercises, as these should be utilized as a lifetime management tool for the scoliosis patient. Over time, the patient increasingly learns to develop a sense of postural awareness and correction. The patient is instructed to stay conscious of their posture when they leave therapy and throughout their daily activities, such as: getting up in the morning, going to school, spending time with friends, and doing their home exercise program, and that should become their new habitual posture for life.
Contact the HSS Rehabilitation Departmentís Joint Mobility Center at 212.606.1213 to see if the Schroth Method could be of benefit to you.