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Book Review: Scolio-Pilates

Exercise for Scoliosis, a Proactive Guide


Updated June 27, 2014

Women lying on the exercising mat and using Pilates machine.
Kristian Sekulic/E+/Getty Images

As surprising as it is to those of us who know the benefits of alignment-based forms of fitness like Pilates, exercise is not yet one of the top treatments for scoliosis. One of the reasons for that might be that scoliosis poses a lot of challenges for those who want to create a corrective exercise plan to address it. There are unusual spinal curves, there may be compression of organs, there may be muscular tightness and atrophy, and frequently there are other signs of compensation throughout the body.

None of this seems to daunt Karena Thek Lineback. In fact, what I like best about Lineback's book, Scolio-Pilates, Exercise for Scoliosis a Proactive Guide, is that she takes you by the hand and boldly leads you through figuring out what's going on with the curves and compensations of scoliosis. And she does it in a very personable way.

With a spiral-bound format, big pages and pictures, and lots of exercise instructions in outline form Scolio-Pilates looks like it grew out of a workshop manual, and it's easy to use that way. It has an intimate workshop feel to it as well. This is not to say that Scolio-Pilates is easy reading. To my mind, Scolio-Pilates is mostly for the Pilates professional, though a motivated Pilates student with scoliosis could get a lot out of it as could other movement professionals.

When you study Scolio-PIlates, you come out knowing what scoliosis is and how its curves manifest. And, you've been offered a systematic approach to working toward corrected alignment through creatively supported Pilates exercises. It is very much to Karena Thek Lineback's credit that the tone of the Scolio-Pilates is so friendly, the information so well presented, and the visual aids so helpful that it seduces you into sticking with a detailed and complicated subject.

Lineback's approach to exercise for scoliosis is to teach you to understand the individual sclerotic spine you are working with, then show you how to balance the anatomy through the use of wedges and small lifts, allowing a person with scoliosis to exercise in optimal alignment. This then strengthens muscles that may be weak due to the imbalances created by the scoliosis, and coaxes tight muscles to stretch and be responsive. Lineback shows many exercises for scoliosis done with Pilates equipment like the reformer, barrel, chair and cadillac; and how to modify them with wedges and small lifts to bring the body into a more functional alignment.

The instructions in Scolio-Pilates are a bit of extra work to follow because Lineback uses specific right-left terminology, so if you have a spine that curves the opposite directions than the examples she is using, you have to turn the whole thing around in your head. There are also specific alignment keys and sclerotic shapes that you need to remember as you proceed. I don't know if there was a way around those things but they can be confusing until you get used to them.

The Bottom Line:

There is an art to designing appropriate exercise for scoliosis. You probably won't go through Scolio-Pilates once and say O.K. I got it all, but you will start to cultivate an eye for how to work with scoliosis in a Pilates setting, and you will have a lot of exercises to practice with. As with any corrective exercise, those instructors working with clients who have scoliosis would be wise to take workshops (workshops with Karena Thek Lineback are available) and do practice training, but Scolio-Pilates will give you a very good start, and an optimistic one.

Scolio-Pilates is available through osteopilates.com. $54.00 plus shipping

Karena Thek Lineback is also the author of OsteoPilates - Compare Prices on OsteoPilates

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