Got Scoliosis?


Partner Content Better Bodies Pilates, Kansas City

Article by Becky Suarez

Photography by Becky Suarez

June is National Scoliosis awareness month! I consider myself a scoliosis ambassador of sorts.

Having my own experience with a spinal curvature deformity “scoliosis” as well as being a

professional Pilates instructor, my mission is twofold; to raise awareness for both scoliosis,

what it is, and Pilates exercise, what it is and how it has helped me and many of our Pilates

clients at Better Bodies Pilates that have been diagnosed with scoliosis.

According to the AANS American Association of Neurological Surgeons (aans.org) there are several types

of scoliosis. These types can range from defects starting at birth, to degenerative conditions as

we age, to the unexplained idiopathic diagnosis. I am mainly going to discuss idiopathic scoliosis

which is the most common form and the one I was diagnosed with in my late twenties. Two to

three percent of the population have a form of scoliosis and idiopathic comprises 80% of those


Every year, according to the AANS, scoliosis patients make more that 600,000 visits to private

physicians. 30,000 of these patients are children and adolescents getting fitted with a brace

and 38,000 patients undergo spinal fusion surgery. The remainder are either being diagnosed

or being treated for pain and various complications associated with scoliosis.

The signs and symptoms of scoliosis include uneven shoulders, one or both shoulder blades

may stick out, head is not centered over pelvis, one or both hips are raised, rib cage is at

different heights, waist is uneven and the entire body can actually lean to one side. As a

teenager, and before I was diagnosed, I recall my mother, an avid seamstress, would always

have to hem one of my pant legs shorter than the other. I also noticed that one side of my

waist had little to no indentation where my waistline should have been. I was not diagnosed

with scoliosis until the age of 29. I remember going to pick my one year old daughter out of her

stroller and my back seized up. I dropped to my knees in a dizzying pain in my low back and had

to be taken to the ER. My ER visit and subsequent X-ray revealed a significant “S” curvature in

my spine. A healthy spine does not have side to side curves. A healthy spine has gentle front to

back curves, like the letter C, curves that are capable of absorbing shocks and jarring. I was

sent away with muscle relaxers, pain pills and the message that I would probably battle with

back pain and potential breathing issues as I aged.

According to the SRS Scoliosis Research Society (srs.org), the treatment goals for scoliosis include

- Minimizing spinal curvature over the life of the patient

- Maximizing lung function

- Maximize motion of chest and spine

- Minimize trunk rotation and maximize hip mobility

Pilates, in my opinion and from my personal experience does all of the things that the SRS


The National Library of Medicine published the results of research that concluded Pilates

exercises have a significant effect on decreasing the angle, improving pain, increasing trunk

range of movement in the hips and improving quality of life when compared to other methods

such as just breathing exercises, regular activity and physiotherapy.

I will conclude with several testimonials from current Pilates clients. “Pilates helps me maintain

Core strength and stability to manage my scoliosis. I’m not in pain, I can keep up with my kids and I

can keep doing the things I love!” Jennifer W. – Age 39

“I have had intermittent back pain my entire life due to scoliosis. With aging, my back pain

became constant. After multiple rounds of PT with little relief I turned to Pilates. I was

immediately hooked and after just one month of strengthening my core my daily pain was

gone! This is just one of the many ways Pilates has helped my overall physical health. Hollye-

Age 68.

Better Bodies Pilates is dedicated to promoting health and well-being utilizing the Pilates Method of exercise. No Memberships or extra fees. Find more information on how to get started at betterbodiespilates.com.

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