SCHROTH METHOD:
EXERCISES FOR SCOLIOSIS

Introducing

Three-Dimensional Treatment for Scoliosis
A Physiotherapeutic Method for Deformities of the Spine

By Christa Lehnert-Schroth, P.T.

Published by The Martindale Press

 Christa Lehnert-Schroth's encyclopedic manual of physiotherapeutic scoliosis treatment has been the standard German handbook on the subject since 1973. This classic is now available in English

 
 
Boy After Three Dimensional Scoliosis Treament
 
5-year-old boy, scoliosis resulting from polio (left).
After 3 weeks of intensive Schroth treatment (center).
After 8 weeks of Schroth scoliosis exercise therapy (right).

 

THE SCHROTH METHOD HELPS PATIENTS TO:

  • Halt curve progression
  • Reduce pain
  • Increase vital capacity
  • At least partly reverse abnormal curvatures
  • Improve posture and appearance
  • Maintain improved posture lifelong
  • Avoid surgery.

 The Schroth Method is a physiotherapeutic treatment system which uses isometric and other exercises to strengthen or lengthen asymmetrical muscles in a scoliotic body. Its goals are to halt progression of abnormal spinal curvature, and in the best case to reverse the curves.

The system of exercises for scoliosis was developed in the 1920s by Katharina Schroth (1894-1985), and further developed by her daughter Christa Lehnert-Schroth. By the 1960s, the Schroth Method had become the standard non-surgical treatment for scoliosis in Germany. Schroth treatment is currently supported in Germany by the federal health insurance system, and German orthopedic surgeons routinely refer patients for Schroth scoliosis exercise therapy.

In most cases these goals are achieved, at least in part. See the page listing Clinical Studies of Scoliosis for published reports on results obtained from hundreds of patients at Schroth clinics in Germany, Spain, and Turkey. Only a small percentage of Schroth patients elects to undergo surgery. This is all the more remarkable since patients at the Katharina Schroth Klinik in Germany are usually the more serious cases, referred by orthopedists.
 

SCHROTH EXERCISES FOR SCOLIOSIS ADDRESS THE REAL CAUSE

All scoliosis cases involve asymmetrical muscles. A scoliotic spine twists abnormally due to strength and bulk imbalances among muscle groups in the back and elsewhere (such as lower extremities) that are supposed to be equal. For whatever reason, some muscles on one side of the back grow stronger than the opposing group on the other side and pull harder. The weaker ones cannot maintain a balance, so the scoliosis cycle begins and gradually worsens under the asymmetrical loads.

How the spine initially began to twist (whether due to muscle degenerative disease or unknown causes) is less important than recognizing the imbalances. Identify the imbalances and you can treat the problem.

For some examples of Schroth-method scoliosis exercises applied to a specific case, see the scoliosis exercises page.

An effective regimen of exercises for scoliosis must follow careful diagnosis of which muscle groups in a patient's body are too weak, and which are overdeveloped and tight. Then the therapist designs a program to restore normal balance. Each person's scoliosis deformity is somewhat unique, so a therapist tailors the scoliosis exercises individually. Some exercises which greatly benefit one patient may be counterproductive for another who has a different abnormal spinal configuration, and some are bad for all scoliotics. See examples of counterproductive yoga-for-scoliosis exercises.

The regimen of muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises aims to derotate and elongate the spine back into its normal position. The patient must do the scoliosis exercises for about 1/2 hour daily. Patient compliance is extremely important, and it's hard work. However, consider the benefits. The Schroth method gives a patient the knowledge and tools to control her or his own postural health, lifelong.