Scoliosis treatment innovation from New Zealand opposes the middle back twist in a new way.

There is a recent physiotherapy innovation from New Zealand which gives stronger and more specific leverage to oppose the middle back twist in mild scoliosis than anything else you can do at home.

Simply lying back on the Backpod with it positioned slightly to the side of your spine uses your own body weight to provide a strong, quiet, localised, sustained stretch to oppose the scoliosis twist in your middle back.

The Backpod is a stand-alone (or rather lie down on it-alone) home stretching device you can use daily or whenever required. It will also help significantly with any other treatments or exercises you may already be getting or doing.

SCOLIOSIS is essentially a twist in the spine. It’s quite common – up to 4% of people will have one to some extent. I have a mild one myself. I have no pain or restriction with my own scoliosis because I simply keep all the joints moving freely with occasional use of the Backpod.

SEVERE SCOLIOSIS: A small proportion of scolioses can accelerate around puberty in an appalling fashion to a serious deformity requiring major orthopaedic bracing, surgical stabilisation with rods for the spine, etc. The Backpod doesn’t give enough leverage to help much with these – they’re just too severe. However, even they start out as mild, which offers the possibility of stopping them progressing.

SCOLIOSIS SURGERY AND COSTOCHONDRITIS: There is a very specific problem which can occur after surgical stabilisation of a major scoliosis which the Backpod can help with a great deal. This is costochondritis – pain where the ribs join onto your breastbone. It is NOT a “mysterious inflammation” arriving for no known reason.

After scoliosis surgery the rib joints round the back where your ribs hinge onto your spine can scar and freeze up. If they can’t move, the more delicate joints at the other ends of the same ribs where they attach onto your breastbone HAVE to move excessively, just to let you keep breathing. So they ‘give’, strain, irritate, inflame – and there’s the costochondritis.

The operation with Harrington rods does not fuse and fix the rib joints as it does the spine. They are fully able to move, it’s just that they’ve become scarred up and immobile. The Backpod is ideal to quietly stretch the immobile rib hinges back to full movement. Massage is needed for the surrounding scarred muscles as well.

MILD TO MODERATE SCOLIOSIS is usually treated by muscle strengthening and stretching exercises to oppose the direction of the twist, e.g. scoliosis camps like ScoliSMART, the Schroth method, etc., and by braces, e.g. the SpineCor scoliosis brace which allows some movement but restricts it in the direction of the twist.

However ANY general exercise, stretch or movement of the spine can put only limited leverage onto the specific bits that are twisted, tight or stuck. It’s like trying to twist a snake – if you hold the head and the tail, you just can’t get much force onto a tight patch in the middle. (Don’t try this at home…)

THE BACKPOD: So what we’ve invented in New Zealand is a high-tech cushioned fulcrum called the Backpod that lets you apply a LOT of specific local force exactly where it should go – on the twisting middle back vertebrae themselves, to oppose the twist.

Also, it’s reasonably comfortable, small, easily portable, and very easy to use. It’s not in opposition to either of the two main treatment approaches, but helps both by adding in more local specific leverage to the spine than either can do on their own.

SIMPLY LYING BACK ON THE BACKPOD uses your upper body weight to stretch the very tough collagen of the ligaments and fascia which has tightened down around the twist.

Position the Backpod over the curve of the raised ribs slightly to the side the spine is twisting to. Relax in each position for a minute or more, and move the Backpod about 50mm (2 inches) at a time up and down the middle back to loosen each vertebra in turn.

This is a completely logical way to oppose the direction the spine is twisting to, with enough sustained oomph to actually help.

MIDDLE BACK KYPHOSIS AS WELL: If you have a scoliosis twist, it is common to also have a middle back hunch, called a thoracic kyphosis. For this, use the Backpod in the same way down the midline of your spine.

The Backpod and its home program of exercises, massage and posture were developed primarily for this – to counter the iHunch. This is the frozen stooped upper back that drives most neck pain and headache, especially if you’re spending heaps of time on laptops, tablets or smartphones. See the iHunch page on the Backpod’s website – the link is

We think the Backpod is a major additional tool to help with the problem of scoliosis, and also the iHunch. Good luck with the work.

Steve August, New Zealand physiotherapist with 30 years’ experience in treating spines.

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