I AM A PRACTITIONER WITH SCOLIOSIS CLIENTS
How to help your clients own their scoliosis
Scoliosis is confusing. Let’s be honest—it just is! The problem is, you don’t have time for confusion; you have a scoliosis client and they need help now. You need to properly assess their body, create an engaging lesson plan, and figure out if that lesson actually helped. How do I know? Because I have scoliosis, and so do most of my clients. I’ve devoted my professional career to studying Pilates, scoliosis, and the benefits of movement. I can help you simplify this whole process, starting with the checklist below.
1. READ these helpful blogs
"The Role of the Teacher"
This blog post outlines some broad goals for you.
"How to Perform a Scoliosis Physical Assessment"
It's imperative that you know how to quickly analyze a scoliotic body, and this skill takes time to perfect. This post will teach you how to analyze the body in front of you.
2. Use a Scoliometer
A scoliometer helps measure vertebral rotation. It is useful to track regular measurements before and after exercise. A decrease in rotation is correlated with movement that is good for your client's body and helps untwist their spiral spine. Learn how to use the scoliometer app and then start using it with your scoli clients. Spiral Spine has developed its own scoliometer for you to use. Download it below.
Once you have a scoliometer it will be important to keep a log of your client's measurements. The scoliometer tracking chart will help you do that easily, and it also has a place for your notes. Things that are beneficial to note in this column are activities that have affected your client that week (illness, long car rides, lots of lifting, etc.), exercises that were beneficial, or tight muscles you noticed. You’ll begin to see patterns as to what helps your client’s body unwind the most and what winds it up.
The "Scoliometer Tracking" blog post will help you understand the importance of regular scoliometer use.
4. WATCH & LEARN
These videos will teach you how to put the techniques mentioned above into a Pilates lesson and how to create that first scoliosis lesson.
If you work with special populations, I recommend these other videos:
Scoliosis Spinal Fusion: How to work with clients who have had scoliosis spinal fusion surgery
Scoliosis with Kids: How to work with kids with scoliosis, including the emotional side
Scoliosis Leg Length: How to determine if a leg length discrepancy is causing scoliosis and how to safely work out someone
If you need other ideas on home & studio workouts for your clients, I suggest the Scoliosis Series of videos I created for Balanced Body.
These techniques aren’t learned overnight. Find someone you can practice teach them to. If you need more help, many of my staff and I are available for virtual private instruction.
6. ATTEND Scoliosis Retreat
During this two-day retreat you'll get to learn alongside Spiral Spine's staff as they work with scoliosis clients. It is a unique opportunity to learn in a hands-on environment and see many different bodies with scoliosis. No matter what type of movement practitioner you are, it will be helpful to you.
You will need to have purchased and read both Analyzing Scoliosis: The Pilates Instructor’s Guide to Scoliosis and I Have Scoliosis; Now What? prior to the workshop. Please bring your copies as well as a list of any questions you have to the workshop.
You will work alongside Erin and her staff to help scoliosis clients through the process of understanding their beautiful scoliotic bodies. You will learn in a hands-on, easy-to-understand way how to:
- use a scoliometer and regularly track your clients' progress
- appropriately pad a client front the front, back, and side-lying positions
- assess muscle imbalances
- teach research-backed strengthening and release exercises
- assess which exercises are most beneficial for the body in front of you, allowing you to create individualized plans for clients
- modify exercises for group classes
- build your dream team
7. BUILD up your props collection
Props are absolutely essential when working with scoliosis clients. They are needed to help the spine relax into a more neutral position and to help increase proprioception, something those with scoliosis struggle with. In general, the more different items you have, the more likely a client will connect with one during a workout. However, there are a few key ones I use with every client.
Check out my curated list to find out which I consider the most essential items for your toolkit. Please note I receive a commission from all purchases.
8. ASSEMBLE your dream team
This team will help keep your clients feeling their best. Ideally it includes a movement practitioner (you - but it's always good to know other types of professionals you'd trust with your clients) and a trained body worker. While movement is important, it is not the only key to living a pain-free life. A skilled body worker will help relax tight muscles your clients may not even know they have. Again, you’ll want to look for someone who works with scoliosis patients or who is open to listening to you and learning how to care for your clients' unique bodies. If you need more information on different kinds of body workers, watch video 5 in the Starting Point Series.