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  • Austin, TX 78746
  • 512-629-4431

    August 2022

    Semi-hanging on stall bars

    Having an unusual curve in your spine can be painful. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “about 80 percent of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime.” If you have scoliosis, those statistics are even higher. In a straight spine, the bones, or vertebrae, stack on top of each other and are connected by ligaments and muscles. However, for people with scoliosis and kyphosis, the spine curvature pushes and twists the vertebrae in unusual ways, which can cause inflammation and pain. Along with this compression often comes a reduction in the space that allows the nerves to exit the spinal cord, which can send pain signals into the arms and legs.

    For years people have purchased a variety of spinal stretch devices to relieve the pain of scoliosis with minimal success because the devices were cumbersome or difficult to comply with. Obviously, no one thing works for everyone, but research is showing us there may be an easier solution.

    One such research study, by Charles Burton, M.D., determined that frequently stretching the low back for 15 minutes with a pull of 25% of one’s body weight has many beneficial effects including substantial pain relief, potentially avoiding surgery, helping disc regeneration, etc.

    In his book, Back Mechanic, Stuart McGill, PhD and world-renowned professor of spine biomechanics, recommends avoiding exercises like crunches and instead focusing on core strength and stabilization. While there is no universal prescription to alleviating back pain, there is a simple activity that you can do to improve your posture, flexibility and strength.

    In the Schroth community we call it Axial elongation or “hanging”. For the beginner, this picture shows a “semi-hanging” version maintaining contact with your feet to the floor. Using a set of wall bars, work out station or an over-the-door pull up bar (easily purchased on Amazon), a hanging series can provide many healthy and beneficial outcomes to the body including decompression of the spine, improved ability to expand the ribcage, strengthening of the shoulder blade muscles and pain reduction. If you have any concerns, always consult a medical professional before starting this activity.

    Hanging and semi-hanging are critical elements in a Schroth-based scoliosis specific exercise program. This position can be used as a warm up or exercise and is a critical component in allowing the spine to de-rotate without causing further damage to already an already compromised muscle and bone system. The ideal set up is one where your hands are reaching above you to a stable anchor, shoulder width apart and your feet are slightly wider than your hips (as shown in the photo). Upon inhale, allow your body to sink down towards the floor for a count of 4 seconds then exhale and bring your body back to neutral for a count of 8 seconds. Perform 3 sets of 5-6 breaths.

    As a strengthening activity, inhale for 4 seconds then use your shoulder blades to pull your body up, without bending the elbows, on exhale for 4-6 seconds. This creates better strength and control throughout your shoulder blade stabilization and low back muscles. Perform 3 sets of 20.

    As with any exercise program, there are exceptions and considerations to each and every person. Do not perform this exercise if you experience an increase in low back, leg or shoulder pain. Consult with a medical professional if you have any symptoms prior to performing this exercise to ensure it is the correct one for your body.

    To better understand what a core program looks like for your spine curvature, a Schroth therapist can assess, create and guide you safely through this process to ensure you are safely addressing your body’s specific asymmetry. Furthermore, an experienced Schroth therapist can help you understand how to change your daily habits to reduce your exposure to further injury.

    For further information or to request a free consultation with a Schroth specialist at ScolioAustin, please visit us at, email danielle@scolioaustin.comor give us a call at 512-221-3448.

    ScolioAustin, LLC Proudly serving Austin as a woman-owned small business for 10 years.

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