Pilates & Scoliosis


Pilates & Scoliosis by Glenn Withers

The word scoliosis can be quite a frightening word to hear when you see a medical professional. It categorises one into a sub group of people who collectively have been told they have abnormal spinal alignment. This can lead to many issues of concern, anxiety and apprehension for the client, and as this is often delivered to a young person, that same anxiety is often felt by the parent.

The important thing to remember is that scoliosis is very common. A scoliosis is only medically correct if the curve is over 10 degrees. Perhaps some people are being advised they have the medical condition of scoliosis when in actual fact they simply have a small curvature of the spine due to muscle imbalance issues or postural adaptations that can easily be remedied. You see, scoliosis is a medical condition, it has a medical definition and medical parameters around its management. I wonder if the current increase in awareness/diagnosis of scoliosis is correctly linked to the actual parameters for it to be defined as a true scoliosis.

It is imperative that the treating clinician is aware of these parameters, of the medical definitions, and the management based around an accurate ‘cobb’ angle measurement. Once we know the cobb angle measurement our treatment can have much more meaning. In the sense of the APPI’s Pilates for Scoliosis, we use the parameters of 10 – 35 degrees of bend. Research has shown that the use of well structured exercise programs can be the most effective form of treatment for this group.

Once we know the true cobb angle (there are now great apps that can assist with this in clinic), and we are happy that exercise is the best form of management, which it often is (even in larger curves) – the clinician needs to be able to understand the nature of the curve. There are many different variants of a scoliosis –

  1. A simple ‘C’ curve, or 2 curve scoliosis.
  2. The most common ‘S’ curve or 3 curve scoliosis
  3.  The less common 4 curve scoliosis.

Understanding how to assess and manage each of these various curves is essential for a successful outcome.

The APPI’s Pilates for Scoliosis program is based on the tried and tested in house program that Glenn Withers and his team in the APPI studios deliver on a daily basis. Using gravity as an assister of elongation, stretching for combined curve management, and a sequenced floor program that rarely sees a client lying on their back in the traditional pilates position, this unique insight into the use of Pilates for the management of scoliosis has grown in popularity around the world.  This program is now available in Australia for the first time in 2017.


18 November 2017 MELBOURNE


Sarah Todd (79 Posts)