Pilates is a widely popular exercise method for both clients and health practitioners alike due to its focus on control, precision of movement and whole body conditioning.
When asked about the appropriateness and use of Pilates for a given individual, we consider many things. We must keep clearly in mind what our ultimate goal is for the individual and take in to account what type and size of curve we are dealing with. Consideration must be had regarding whether the client’s scoliosis is undergoing progression or at risk of progression.
Pilates is beautifully suited to the management of functional scoliosis (ie non-structural) or for milder idiopathic curves that are at low risk of progression.
If a client has a functional curve (usually they are milder, measuring < 15° Cobb angle), Pilates is very well suited to manage fully this type of curve. It has an extensive repertoire of movement and stability exercises for the well trained Pilates practitioner to select from. As our physiotherapists are all dually trained in both Schroth and Pilates, when appropriate, we offer some private Pilates sessions as a stepping stone back to their local Pilates practitioner. We happily share information to the clients current or future local Pilates practitioners and welcome them to attend these sessions when possible.
If a client has a structural curve or a curve that is considered at risk of progression, then they are best to consider one of the internationally recognised ‘Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercise’ methods as recommended by SOSORT, such as Schroth. Theses methods were specifically created for significant scoliosis and have preventing progression as a primary/targeted goal.
We consider clients with significant scoliosis as appropriate for Pilates when they have sound training and ability in the 3-dimensional postural corrections of scoliosis. They need to be able to achieve this self-correction in upright positions, maintain it for a period of time and not undergo loss of alignment or demonstrate spinal compression when external resistance challenges are applied. Only when they have these fundamentals, do we consider it appropriate and safe for them to enter the Pilates environment. In these instances, we invite and encourage the Pilates practitioner to attend one of our consultations with the client.