What is the Schroth Method?
The Schroth Method is a non-surgical treatment for scoliosis consisting of curve pattern specific exercises and a proprietary corrective breathing technique. Schroth scoliosis exercises do not resemble your typical exercise, so the term scoliosis exercise fools many into thinking there is a simple solution for managing scoliosis using a non-invasive approach. With that said, with focused instruction the Schroth Method - a lifetime management program for scoliosis - can be learned successfully within a week’s time at our clinic on an outpatient basis. The benefits are well worth the effort for those who opt to manage scoliosis with this effective technique which Dr. Moramarco helped bring to the U.S.
Schroth Method Explained
Schroth scoliosis specific exercises target the core and trunk, but start at the feet or pelvis. They are used to correct the spine in three-dimensions through specific movements and Schroth rotational breathing, also know as rotational angular breathing (RAB). Creator Katharina Schroth developed the technique in Germany more than ninety years ago.
Simply stated, the purpose of the Schroth Method is to correct the spine in the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes. This is accomplished through deflexion, de-rotation and elongation of the spine and rib cage. The patient learns to strengthen the musculature surrounding the spine when they are in their newly formed posture. This is for spinal balance and stability.
Consistently working to correct the spine in this manner is one key to successfully incorporating the Schroth Method for benefits such as:
- halted or potentially reduced progression (adolescents)
- spinal de-rotation
- improved lung function
- improved chest expansion
- improved appearance
- a more balanced posture
- pain reduction or elimination, if present
- an element of empowerment over scoliosis
- offering the patient the opportunity for control over what, to this point, has been portrayed as an uncontrollable condition
The Schroth Method is unique. There are many Schroth scoliosis exercises, but not all are used for each individual patient. Choice of the exercises prescribed are dictated by curve pattern and a skilled practitioner. Even then, not each exercise will work for every individual’s circumstance with that curve pattern so experience prevails and the practitioner must make educated judgements regarding efficacy of each exercise for an individual’s curve. Variables such as pain and postural considerations will also play a role.
The patient must focus mentally as well as physically and internalize the concept of re-establishing spinal symmetry during each exercise. In scoliosis, the muscles along the spine become imbalanced on opposing sides. With Schroth, the patient learns to shorten the muscles on the convex side of the spine and lengthen the muscles on the concave side of the spine.
Initially, efforts to re-balance spinal musculature is no easy task. It requires dedication and patience on the part of both the clinician and patient, but with practice, like anything else, it can be mastered. The patient will learn the unique Schroth Method rotatory breathing technique and is taught to breathe into the concave side of the trunk. The goal is to de-flex and de-rotate the trunk allowing it to return to a more ‘normal’ physiological position. This ‘inhalation’ phase is followed by the ‘exhalation’ phase of Schroth, known as stabilization. Stabilization helps restore a more stable three-dimensional spinal alignment helping the patient experience the feeling of the corrected spinal posture in order to recognize how to maintain it. Dr. Moramarco stresses that the patient should strive to use this postural awareness during daily activities.
Do Schroth Method Exercises Work?
Yes! The Schroth Method works best when the four other components of our program are incorporated. All are Schroth based and include activities of daily living according to Schroth principles, spinal mobilizations, Physiologic™ and 3D Made Easy™. The latter two are more recent developments by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss, grandson of Katharina Schroth and the creator of the Weiss-Cheneau Brace of Gensingen, Germany. An asymmetric brace, the Weiss-Cheneau is fully compatible with a Schroth exercise approach for an improved opportunity of a positive outcome while managing scoliosis during adolescence.