Getting Started with Scoliosis: Part 1

I’m excited to share this 2-part series with you and hope it inspires you to work with clients who are moving through life with scoliosis. Maybe you’ll even be interested in specializing!

Simple Safety

It’s important to remember that everyone is different. What methods will work for each client is based on their structural and muscular anatomy, so try not to make working with clients with scoliosis about method, but rather about anatomy! Here are few tips you can adhere to about safety, creating balance inside their body, and setting proper goals.

  • Take it slow. Ask clients questions before trying side bending, twisting, or heavier spring use. I highly recommend lighter spring settings that will support their body and teach length and strength. Heavier loads can increase lateral shifts in the spine and distract the body from being able to receive positive sensory feedback. And this sensory feedback is specifically Pilates has to offer.
  • Clarify their movement history, injury history, and any sensitive parts of the their back.
  • Discover your clients patterns to reveal their best exercise and release repertoire. Imbalances will show up as you work with your client. Bodies seeking balance will create the “proper imbalances” to be sure the body can function at its best. So consider which tightnesses are needed as supports for their spine, and let them be.

Mind Teaches Body

The mind is often the best teacher of the spine and the mind-body connection in Pilates is powerful! Exercises that ask reasonable amounts of multitasking improve a client with scoliosis ability to sense their spine in relationship to their body closer to neutral. Scoliosis cues during movement such as deep core stability, internal spine and rib corrections, while doing movements with light resistance such as footwork in parallel on the reformer or seated cat on the tower are very beneficial.

Goal Setting

Finding proper goals for your clients with scoliosis will set them up to stay motivated and see results. The list below is a starter guide to help you generate proper goals.

Help your client seek out the mindfulness that is involved in Pilates, not just impressive movements. Teaching clients to “connect” with their body and balance will increase proprioception and create a positive relationship to their body. This allows clients to use the power of their alignment and awareness.

  • Create a postural analysis of your client when you start and keep track of their balance improvements by revisiting some of the movements you use in their initial sessions.
  • Train clients to move their breath around the rib cage is a great goal! Focus on sending the breath into the concavities or the back of the rib cage. This can be done in propped prone or supine position. Breathing into the concavity invites de-rotation of the ribs and spine. Proven to help create relief in the body.

I’m looking forward to sharing Part 2 with you in this series which will talk about how to prop and avoiding pitfalls! Meantime, I hope these tips and tricks will encourage you to feel confident and excited to work with those clients who might have a unique curvature in their spine.


Laura Hausler

About Laura Hausler

Laura Hausler is certified by the PMA, Balanced Body, and SmartSpine Wellness System. Laura began her career in Pilates in Chattanooga, TN back in 2013. She has recently moved to the Seattle area where she teaches at 5 Elements Pilates on Mercer Island. She has fresh outlook on moving with scoliosis and how to use Pilates as to benefit people like herself. After working with Sydney Craig of Pilates Tonic and Jennifer Gianni during her training she went on to work mostly with Clients with former scoliosis needs in Chattanooga. In 2015, Injury cause a 2 year pause in Laura’s career. Her injury lead her deeper into how to heal and manage pain and scoliosis. The tools in her training combined with a great Pilates community were exactly what she needed to get herself back on track. Now feeling restored she is excited to share what she has gained through her teaching to those looking to Pilates specifically for scoliosis management. Find her at OR on instagram @pilatesandscoliosis to discuss training with her or hosting her for a workshop your studio.