What is the Schroth Method?

Written by Kristin Romeo, DPT
Edited by Alex Ariza

What is Scoliosis?

curvature scoliosis diagram

Scoliosis is a three-dimensional abnormal curvature of the spine. Everyone’s spine has a natural curvature to it, however, if that curvature progresses beyond a certain degree it can be classified as scoliosis. Scoliosis occurs equally among genders but girls seem to be more likely to have scoliosis that has progressed to a level that requires treatment. There are an array of health issues that can accompany scoliosis such as abnormal breathing patterns, visible prominences and poor posture due to muscular imbalances.

What causes Scoliosis?

Scoliosis X-Ray
X-ray image of a person with Scoliosis. Original Image Source: https://www.orthobullets.com/spine/2053/adolescent-idiopathic-scoliosis

There are several different types of scoliosis, however, the majority of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning it has an unknown origin. Idiopathic scoliosis typically begins at a young age and becomes more pronounced during periods of rapid growth.

What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

Pain does not always accompany scoliosis. Scoliosis can present in a variety ways such as abnormal trunk lean, uneven rib cage/shoulders or even back pain. If you suspect scoliosis contact your primary care provider to address your concerns. Prior to Schroth treatment, an x-ray is needed as scoliosis can present differently externally due to overlying musculature and does not give us the full picture. Knowing the bony anatomy allows us to monitor your progress and tailor your treatment to your specific curvature.

rib cage scoliosis cross section diagram

What is the Schroth Method?

Kristin Romeo, DPT Treating Patient with Schroth Exercise 5 | Park Sports Physical Therapy

The Schroth Method is a conservative form of scoliosis treatment designed to target the flexible, postural component of scoliosis. The method was created in Germany in the 1920’s by Katharina Schroth as a way to treat her own scoliosis. Since then the method has made its way across the globe, only recently in the US. Scoliosis specific exercises are targeted specifically to each patient’s curvature through the use of five principles of correction. Subtle postural corrections, spinal distraction and isometric tension help to increase muscle activation and strength in a neutral spinal alignment.

What can I expect during a session of Schroth method physical therapy?

On your first visit, you will be fully evaluated. We will take a look at your posture, your muscular imbalances, address any goals or concerns you may have and take a variety of measurements. You will be sent home the first day with the beginnings of a home exercise program. During your follow-up treatment sessions, we will be utilizing a variety of equipment such as a Schroth wall ladder, physioball, rice bags and Therabands. You will learn about the five principles of correction (1. Auto-elongation (detorsion); 2. Deflection; 3. Derotation; 4. Rotational breathing; and 5. Stabilization) and how to implement them into your home exercise program. We will discuss safe ways to lift, sit and postural corrections to integrate into your daily routine.

Do you or your child suffer from Scoliosis or Kyphosis? We can help. Schedule your evaluation today.

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Scoliosis Specialist in Brooklyn

Scoliosis affects 2-3% of the American population. The most common form being idiopathic scoliosis which affects children ranging from ages 10-15 years old. Idiopathic means the causes are unknown. It is typically detected by school screenings or a physician visit. Patients with idiopathic scoliosis rarely experience pain and the curve is usually minor enough that treatment isn’t needed, but this can change with time. If your child has scoliosis our certified Schroth therapists can help treat and teach your child how to counteract the imbalances caused from the abnormal curvature of the spine.

In this article, Park Sports founder and physical therapist Boris Gilzon, PT DPT, OCS, CHT describes how our therapists utilize conservative methods such as breathing techniques, exercise, and body awareness to address Scoliosis and Kyphosis.

Originally developed in Germany by Katharina Schroth in the early 1920’s, the Schroth method has become one of the most effective and safest approaches to treating Scoliosis.

The Schroth method focuses heavily on rotational breathing, stabilizing and balancing the spine, chest expansion, derotation and reduction of the spine’s irregular curvature, elongation of the spine, hands-on treatment to correct the body’s posture, and educating the patient on exercises and techniques they could use for life.

There are numerous Schroth Method exercise. The combination of exercises our physical therapists prescribe is based on each patient’s body and the curves of their spine.

Unlike most other exercises, which are completed on both sides of the body, scoliosis exercises are generally executed on one side only. This is in order to correct the imbalances of the spine by lengthening and strengthening the muscles in this area.

On the whole, the exercises consist of a combination of stretching, strengthening and breathing techniques, which follow this three-step exercise process:

  1. First, make sure the pelvis is properly aligned
  2. Then, do exercises to lengthen the spine, followed by breathing techniques to move the spine and ribs into the best possible posture
  3. Finally, tense the muscles of the trunk, which will strengthen weak muscles and preserve the posture that has now been corrected

The benefits of the Schroth Method are highlighted in the findings of this recent study:

According to these results, Schroth PSSE (physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises) added to the standard of care were superior compared to standard of care alone for reducing the curve severity in patients with AIS (adolescent idiopathic scoliosis). Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198985/

So if you or your child are dealing with scoliosis, the Schroth Method may be your best option to address its symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing further.

Do you or your child suffer from scoliosis or kyphosis? We can help. Schedule your evaluation today.

Fill out my online form.

Scoliosis Treatment in Brooklyn

The clinicians at Park Sports Physical Therapy are experts in scoliosis treatment in Brooklyn.  Below is some information on scoliosis and how we can help.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis  is a condition where patients present with a sideways curvature of the or backbone or spinal column.. These curves can be C-shaped, or more commonly, are S-shaped or C-shaped. Most patient develop idiopathic scoliosis, which means there is no known cause of this diagnosis.

How is Scoliosis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of scoliosis is the result of a healthcare practitioner performing special tests, a physical exam, taking a thorough health history, and an x-ray of the spine. If the x-ray reveals a sideways curvature of 25 degrees or more and is consistent with the health history, exam, and special tests, the diagnosis is made. X-rays also provide additional value in that they help determine the direction, location, and shape of the sideways curvature.

Who Gets Scoliosis and What is the Cause?

As mentioned above, the cause of scoliosis, in most cases, is unknown. There are two ways that healthcare experts define scoliosis:

  1. Structural – structural scoliosis is a situation where the bones of the spine become twisted and have formed a lateral curve and it is fixed or unchanged. Injuries, birth defects, infections, or diseases can cause this.
  2. Nonstructural – this is a type of curve that is temporary. Identifying the underlying cause and treating us often effective

Scoliosis with an unknown cause typically shows up in kids during the age of 10-12 but people of all ages may develop scoliosis.  Here are some patterns that are common with scoliosis:

  • Girls develop scoliosis more than boys
  • Scoliosis runs in families
  • It is rarely painful

Physical Therapist Directed Scoliosis Treatment in Brooklyn – It’s Our Specialty

Clinical research has demonstrated that exercise therapy can improve a scoliosis patient’s strength, endurance, and lung function. There is controversy as to whether exercise can slow or even reverse scoliosis. There is some evidence that a specific exercise approach as outlined here in this case study. https://scoliosisjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1748-7161-8-S2-O10. As such, several of our physical therapists have been trained in the Schroth Method here in Brooklyn.

The Schroth Method is defined as follows (reference: https://www.schrothmethod.com/about-schroth-method):

Schroth Exercises are customized exercises for the patient’s scoliosis deformity.

The method teaches patients how to:

  • Correct spinal rotation and increase lung capacity with a rotational breathing technique.
  • Help restore normal spinal position with pelvic corrections, breathing technique, and stabilizing isometric contractions.
  • Improve posture during routine daily living, not just during therapy.

Try Physical Therapy/The Schroth Method Before Aggressive Treatments

Treatment for scoliosis is medical observation, bracing, and in severe cases, surgery. Before aggressive, invasive treatment, it makes sense to try a conservative, natural treatment approach.

For More Information, Give Us a Call

If you or a loved one has scoliosis, give us a call to learn more about our scoliosis treatment and the Schroth Method here in our Brooklyn offices.

You can contact us at one of our four locations for more information.

Garfield Place Clinic
325 Garfield Pl | Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 230-1180

Sixth Avenue Clinic
670 6th Ave | Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 369-2560

Clinton Hill Clinic
973 Fulton St | Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 622-0224

Union Street Clinic
808 Union St | Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 398-8800