Oct. 13, 2014 -- People with scoliosis who held a single yoga pose for 1 to 2 minutes a day for several days a week greatly reduced the curvature of their spine, according to a study published in the September issue of Global Advances in Health and Medicine.
Scoliosis affects about 2% to 3% of people in the U.S., according to the National Scoliosis Foundation. Treatments include wearing a back brace for 23 hours a day, surgery, or for less severe cases, lengthy exercise programs each day.
Some studies have suggested yoga may help patients with scoliosis, and the National Scoliosis Foundation recommends 25 yoga poses.
In the current case series, Loren M. Fishman, MD, from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues looked at the effects of a yoga pose called the side plank in 25 people with certain types of scoliosis, either idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis. The researchers taught people the pose and told them to hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds once a day for the first week. After that, patients were told to hold the pose for as long as possible once a day, but only on the weaker side of their spine.
The patients reported holding the pose for an average of 1.5 minutes. On average, patients had a 32% reduction in their primary spinal curve.
The 19 people who did the pose at least four times per week had the most improvement. Children ages 10-18 with idiopathic scoliosis who did the pose at least four times per week had, on average, a 49.2% improvement in their primary curve. Adults with degenerative scoliosis had, on average, a 38.4% improvement in their primary curve.
"There may be added value for adolescents because the daily home practice of these poses is unlikely to raise the same psychological and self-esteem issues that occur with bracing as a treatment," the authors conclude.