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Glob Adv Health Med. 2014 Sep;3(5):16-21. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2013.064.

Serial case reporting yoga for idiopathic and degenerative scoliosis.

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Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons New York (Dr Fishman), United States.
University of California San Diego, VA San Diego Healthcare System (Dr Groessl), United States.
Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, United States.


in English, Chinese, Spanish


Non-surgical techniques for treating scoliosis frequently focus on realigning the spine, typically by muscular relaxation or muscular or ligamentous stretching. However, such treatments, which include physical therapeutic, chiropractic, and bracing techniques, are inconsistently supported by current evidence. In this study, we assess the possible benefits of asymmetrical strengthening of truncal muscles on the convex side of the scoliotic curve through a single yoga pose, the side plank pose, in idiopathic and degenerative scoliosis.


Twenty-five patients with idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis and primary curves measuring 6 to 120 degrees by the Cobb method had spinal radiographs and were then taught the side plank pose. After 1 week performing the pose with convexity downward for 10 to 20 seconds, they were instructed to maintain the posture once daily for as long as possible on that one side only. A second series of spinal radiographs was taken 3 to 22 months later. Pre- and post-yoga Cobb measurements were compared.


The mean self-reported practice of the yoga pose was 1.5 minutes per day, 6.1 days per week, for a mean follow-up period of 6.8 months. Among all patients, a significant improvement in the Cobb angle of the primary scoliotic curve of 32.0% was found. Among 19 compliant patients, the mean improvement rose to 40.9%. Improvements did not differ significantly among adolescent idiopathic and degenerative subtypes (49.6% and 38.4%, respectively).


Asymmetrically strengthening the convex side of the primary curve with daily practice of the side plank pose held for as long as possible for an average of 6.8 months significantly reduced the angle of primary scoliotic curves. These results warrant further testing.


Scoliosis; adolescent idiopathic; degenerative; yoga

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