Scoliosis Exercises to Straighten Spine

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Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. Usually, the spine appears straight when viewed from the back. With scoliosis, it may take a C or S shape to either side.

Scoliosis can be found in 2-3% of the population. It is diagnosed when the curvature measures 10 degrees or more.

Can you fix scoliosis with exercise? Exercise can reduce mild scoliosis effectively. More severe cases may require a brace or surgery, but it can still be helpful. Below, you’ll find a list of the scoliosis exercises to straighten the spine, as well as some recommended sports.

Best Exercises for Scoliosis to Straighten the Spine


Stretching exercises are excellent for straightening the spine and achieving a better posture. It’s recommended to extend in the direction of the curve rather than in the opposite direction.

The bend in your spine causes some muscles to be elongated. When stretching them even further, you can trigger a reflex to pull them back and shorten them. This evens out the muscles around your spine.

Bending on the opposite side of your scoliosis curve may be difficult and ineffective.

You can stretch the length of your spine and reduce the burden of gravity on the vertebrae by hanging upside down. Inversion tables or gravity boots can help you achieve inversion stretching easily.

Whatever stretching regimen you choose, avoid backbends, as they can cause excessive stress on your spine, which increases the bend. Excess spine rotations may also contribute to the problem.

Side Bends

Side bending is not a common position for daily activity, which makes it a beneficial stretch. There are many variations you can try, including standing, sitting, and using dumbbells. The important thing is to do it often.

Press one hand on your waist, on the side of your spine curvature. Raise the other arm above you and slowly bend with the curve.

Alternatively, extend both arms above you and bend to the direction of the curve. This is best done while standing up to help relieve the excess weight on your spine.

Repeat the stretch for 50-100 times for a focused session, or do it often throughout the day. If you have an S curve with a significant bend on both sides, you can repeat and alternate between sides.

Leg-Up-The-Wall Pose

This pose is an inversion yoga pose, which helps reduce the weight of gravity on your vertebrae. You can also try other inversion poses or use an inversion table for a similar effect.

Gravity forces your spine even further into the curvature, which can exacerbate the condition.To do the stretch, simply lie down with your back flat on the floor and raise your legs against the wall.

Move closer or further away from the wall until you find a position that feels comfortable. To take it further, split the legs into a V shape. This stretches the hips as well.

Cat-Cow Stretch

The cat-cow stretch is a flow between two yoga poses. It helps stretch your midsection and is excellent for lower back pain. This makes it an ideal scoliosis exercise for adults.

To try it, start with your hands and knees on the floor. The wrists should be parallel to the shoulders, and the knees placed hip-width apart. Keep your head in a relaxed position and your gaze downward.

For the cow pose, take a deep breath. Drop your midsection closer to the floor, and lift your chest, shoulders, and head up, pointing your gaze to the ceiling. Hold the pose for five seconds or so. For the cat pose, exhale.

Draw your belly back toward your spine, in the same way, a cat would stretch. Drop your head down without forcing your chin towards your chest.

Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis is a fan-shaped muscle that links the hips to the tailbone. It can become tight on one side, especially if your scoliosis causes one hip to stick out.

You can perform the stretch by lying on your back, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Rest the right ankle over the left knee, and pull the left thigh toward the chest. The legs should form a 4 shape.

Hold the stretch for several seconds, then repeat for the other side. Another way to stretch the piriformis muscle is to lie on your back with knees bent, just like before.

Grab the left knee with your right hand, and pull towards the right shoulder. Hold for several seconds then repeat for the other side.


Many scoliosis patients avoid particular sports, thinking that it could exacerbate their condition. However, staying active is vital for spine health.

You may only need to avoid competitive sports, particularly after surgery. Consult your doctor to determine which sports would be appropriate.

Some sports put uneven stress on the spine, including figure skating, tennis, javelin throwing, and other activities that depend on the use of one arm.

It’s best to avoid these. Additionally, sports that compress the spine, including anything that requires heavy lifting or hard landings, can be dangerous for scoliosis. This includes cheerleading, gymnastics, running for long distances, and of course, weight-lifting.


Swimming is an excellent way to strengthen the spine in a weightless environment. It’s a good cervical and lumbar scoliosis exercise, but may not be a good option for thoracic scoliosis.

Daily swimming, such as that required to swim competitively, can flatten the middle of the spine. This can make the curve of thoracic scoliosis worse.

Aside from that, swimming exercises many muscle groups in a low-stress environment. It also encourages symmetry more than any other sport.


Soccer is an excellent option for those with thoracic scoliosis because it helps reduce the flattening of the thoracic region.

Restoring the natural back-to-front curve of the spine helps reduce the abnormal lateral curvature. Except for the goalkeeper, any position on the team would be fine.

Wrap Up

A scoliosis diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to quit any of your current activities. It merely means that you need to adapt them to your condition. Exercises represent a necessary scoliosis treatment at home. It’s best to discuss with your doctor the best course of action.

Dr. Lucas Carrera is a board certified physiatrist. He graduated from University of New Hampshire. Dr. Carrera received his medical education from Boston University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Harvard Medical School.