ScoliSMART Scoliosis Exercises:
Targeting the Causes of Progression

Dr. Clayton J Stitzel
Factually accurate & verified by
Dr. Aatif Siddiqui
Last updated on
October 15, 2018

There are many alternative treatments that include scoliosis exercises. Some focus on breathing mechanics and function; others use mirror-image type exercises to straighten scoliosis; another type focuses on using anti-scoliosis postures while performing daily activities.

Avoid Braces and Surgery with Improved Brain-Muscle Communication

All alternative scoliosis exercise treatments serve the patient as they aim to correct scoliosis by retraining — never forcing — the body to hold itself straighter. Since conventional bracing and surgical treatments increase pain and have poor long-term results, seeking alternative scoliosis treatment and exercises makes sense.

ScoliSMART exercises focus on the causes of progression.

Unlike bracing and surgery, which focus on improving curve measurement on an x-ray, ScoliSMART scoliosis exercises target the root cause by retraining the brain and body, thereby creating new muscle memory to hold itself straighter — permanently. ScoliSMART focuses on the whole of you, improving your quality of life, reducing pain, and correcting curvature.

Only Involuntary Scoliosis Exercises Stop Scoliosis Progression

Another serious issue with scoliosis bracing is that bones cannot grow properly without intermittent pressure. The theory behind bracing is that it will open the inside of the curve (the concavity) by removing pressure and encouraging growth on the concave side of the curve (the convexity). But you need intermittent pressure on bones to stimulate growth and the concavity needs to grow. You cannot "guide" bone growth by squeezing the ribs and bending them laterally while the wearer sleeps or sits.

The ScoliSMART doctors give credit to all professionals using exercises to help people with scoliosis — especially children like yours — avoid surgery. However, not all scoliosis exercises work the same. Voluntary exercises, like running a certain distance, jumping a certain height or doing pushups, do not produce the dramatic improvements we see with involuntary exercises.

Involuntary exercises occur when the body automatically moves in direct proportion to a specific stimulus, like carrying a purse or wearing glasses. These movements become automated habits in our brains. It's estimated that it takes 3,500 repetitions of a specific activity to become an automated habit. So, if your child did voluntary exercises three times a day, it would take three years for them to become automated habits.

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Creating New Habits of Posture

Why is this important? Because most scoliosis cases are idiopathic (of unknown cause), yet their progression stems from a neurological problem with the brain's control of the spine in response to gravity. The brain incorrectly perceives gravity and misorients the spine. It should tell the spine to straighten, but it doesn't.

Posture control is an automated, involuntary habit. We don't think about standing up and resisting gravity. As infants, we keep trying to stand until we can do it without focusing on the task. Similarly, specialized involuntary exercises stop scoliosis because they form postural habits.

Auto Response Training Scoliosis Exercises Don't Look Like Gym Class

The exercises that stimulate subconscious automatic postural control centers aren't the ones you would see in gym class. They're balancing exercises in which small amounts of weight are put on the head, torso and pelvis. These exercises help the brain perceive a different center of mass, or balancing point, for that part of your child's body. The brain sends out an automatic response to re-balance the new center. This creates a re-alignment of the entire spine. The Auto Response Training concept isn't radical; it's just fairly new to scoliosis treatment. But it works 100 percent of the time because everyone's brain stem is wired the same and responds predictably to this re-alignment of balancing points.

Auto Response Training helps people of all ages and curve measurements because it halts scoliosis progression and reduces curvature. But it has the most tremendous results in children whose curves have not reached 30 degrees. Your child's curve will likely never reach 30 degrees if he or she adheres to the ScoliSMART Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention (ESSI) program, also known as ScoliSMART Small Curve Camp. Mild curves are often reduced to less than 10 degrees (barely noticeable).

Why Progression Skyrockets in Curves Over 30 Degrees

Untreated, scoliosis often progresses to 45 degrees or more, which is when doctors start recommending surgery. This is extremely frustrating because the same doctors typically suggest you "wait and watch" your child's mild scoliosis (curves less than 20 degrees) to see if it's progressing.

ScoliSMART doctors never recommend waiting. Early intervention is crucial because scoliosis has a "coil down" effect that skyrockets the chances scoliosis will progress after curves reach 30 degrees. Scoliosis' pattern of bending and rotation changes and accelerates when a curve exceeds 30 degrees. Like a twisting rubber band, increased torque makes the spinal curve twist and bend even more.

Early Intervention and Scoliosis Exercises: The Best Opportunity for Spinal Correction

No one knows exactly why this coil-down effect happens, but it appears to be connected to adverse mechanical tension on the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord. The opportunity for spinal correction is much greater before this crankshaft phenomenon of rotation and torque starts because the spine is more flexible. Thus, we stress early intervention.

Additional reading: "Early Stage Scoliosis"

The ScoliSMART Early Stage Intervention and treatment begins with a five-day outpatient program at one of our clinics which kick-starts the crucial neuromuscular retraining. It also includes ongoing home treatment, goals, and assessments of improvement and stability.

ScoliSMART early intervention includes:

  • ScoliSMART Activity Suit — bracing alternative designed to harnesses the energy of natural movement to create new muscle memory
  • Neurotransmitter testing — determines hormone imbalances that contribute to brain-muscle miscommunication
  • Home muscle training program — an involuntary exercise program that follows our outpatient programs
  • Nutritional testing and support — supplements that correct hormone imbalances

We also provide guidance to help you decide if sports and activities like dance, swimming, and gymnastics are potentially harmful to your child. The goal is for children with scoliosis to have a normal childhood, so we don't recommend eliminating activities they love. However, we may suggest that they limit exercises that cause a flattening of the mid-back, such as backbends.

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Meet the ScoliSMART Doctors

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Dr. Clayton J Stitzel

Dr. Clayton J. Stitzel

PENNSYLVANIA
Dr. Mark Morningstar

Dr. Mark Morningstar

MICHIGAN
Dr. Brian T Dovorany

Dr. Brian T. Dovorany

WISCONSIN
Dr. Aatif Siddiqui

Dr. Aatif Siddiqui

NEW YORK