Book Review - Scolio-Pilates: Exercise for Scoliosis

In-Depth Introduction for Using Pilates Exercise as a Treatment for Scoliosis

Scolio Pilates
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Can relief from scoliosis be found in Pilates exercises? The book Scolio-Pilates studies that question in great detail and offers exercises designed to help people who have scoliosis.

It is a technical book and one that many Pilates instructors will find useful as an introduction to guiding their clients through effective exercises. Individuals with scoliosis will also find this a fantastic resource for starting a home practice.

Pilates as a Treatment for Scoliosis

As surprising as it is to those of us who know the benefits of alignment-based forms of fitness like Pilates, exercise is not yet one of the top treatments for scoliosis.

One of the reasons for that might be that scoliosis poses a lot of challenges for those who want to create a corrective exercise plan to address it. There are unusual spinal curves, there may be compression of organs, there may be muscular tightness and atrophy, and frequently there are other signs of compensation throughout the body.

A Proactive Pilates Guide for Scoliosis 

None of this seems to daunt Karena Thek Lineback, author of OsteoPilates. In fact, what I like best about Lineback's book, Scolio-Pilates: Exercise for Scoliosis a Proactive Guide, is that she takes you by the hand and boldly leads you through figuring out what's going on with the curves and compensations of scoliosis.

She does it in a very personable way.

With a spiral-bound format, big pages and pictures, and lots of exercise instructions in outline form, Scolio-Pilates looks like it grew out of a workshop manual, and it's easy to use that way.

It has an intimate workshop feel to it as well. This is not to say that Scolio-Pilates is easy reading.

To my mind, Scolio-Pilates is mostly for the Pilates professional, though a motivated Pilates student with scoliosis could get a lot out of it as could other movement professionals.

A Systematic and Friendly Approach

When you study Scolio-PIlates, you come out knowing what scoliosis is and how its curves manifest. You are offered a systematic approach to working toward corrected alignment through creatively supported Pilates exercises.

It is very much to Karena Thek Lineback's credit that the tone of the Scolio-Pilates is so friendly, the information so well presented, and the visual aids so helpful that it seduces you into sticking with a detailed and complicated subject.

Understand the Sclerotic Spine

Lineback's approach to exercise for scoliosis is to teach you to understand the individual sclerotic spine you are working with. It then shows you how to balance the anatomy through the use of wedges and small lifts, allowing a person with scoliosis to exercise in optimal alignment.

The exercises strengthen muscles that may be weak due to the imbalances created by scoliosis and coaxes tight muscles to stretch and be responsive.

The Pilates Exercises in Scolio-Pilates

Lineback shows many exercises for scoliosis done with Pilates equipment like the reformer, barrel, chair and cadillac; and how to modify them with wedges and small lifts to bring the body into a more functional alignment.

The instructions in Scolio-Pilates are a bit of extra work to follow because Lineback uses specific right-left terminology. If you have a spine that curves the opposite directions than the examples she is using, you have to turn the whole thing around in your head.

There are also specific alignment keys and sclerotic shapes that you need to remember as you proceed. I don't know if there was a way around those things but they can be confusing until you get used to them.

The Expert's Take Away

There is an art to designing appropriate exercise for scoliosis. You probably won't go through Scolio-Pilates once and say, "Okay, I got it all!" You will, however, start to cultivate an eye for how to work with scoliosis in a Pilates setting and you will have a lot of exercises to practice with.

As with any corrective exercise, those instructors working with clients who have scoliosis would be wise to take workshops (workshops with Karena Thek Lineback are available) and do practice training, but ​Scolio-Pilates will give you a very good and optimistic start.

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