Scoliosis is a lateral (sideways) or rotatory deviation of the spine.

There are two types of Scoliotic curves:

Functional curves
Also known as postural curves, are the result of poor posture and weak muscles. Functional curves can be modified with muscle strengthening, joint mobilization and stretching.

Structural Curves
Due to bony changes, structural curves can not be corrected by voluntary effort. Structural curves usually occur in early childhood and corection requires surgery or bracing.


There are many theories on both types of scoliosis. We are going to focus on the causes of functional curves. Functional causes are muscular in nature:

  • A leg length inequality due to a short thigh or leg bone, flat feet or a shortened Quatratus Lumborum muscle on one side places the hip in a tilted position. The spine may curve to compensate.
  • Spending long periods of time in a asymmetrical position. Slouching to one side, sitting on your wallet or compensating for pain can cause soft tissue shortening.
  • Iliotibial bad contracture can lead to pelvic tilt and scoliosis.


  • One or more curves will be present in one of the three sections of the spine.
  • There will be a rib hump on the one side of the back and a tilt in the pelvis
  • The curve may be a C-curve(1 curve) or an S-curve(2 curves)
  • Muscle imbalances and shortening are present
  • Range of motion is reduced and rib mobility is restricted.
  • Poor postural habits are observed
  • Secondary conditions such as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome may occur.

How can Massage Therapy help?

An assessment will be completed to determine the contributing factors to the scoliosis. A referal to a doctor or a chiropodist (foot doctor) may be in order. If determined to be a functional curve, treatment will include stretching shortened muscles and strengthening weak ones. Joint mobilizations to increase range of motion and massage techniques to reduce tension and pain will also be used.