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Throughout the years, elaborate programs of exercise have been instituted in response to the

treatment needs of the scoliosis patients. The creeping exercise advocated by Klapp were
discarded when problems with children's knees forced the discontinuance of such a program.
Exercises that overemphasized flexibility created problems by making the spine more
vulnerable to collapse. When treating patients with S-curves, one must avoid exercises that
adversely affect one of the curves, while attempting to correct the other.

It is not surprising, therefore , that the usefulness of exercises in case of scoliosis has been
questioned. For many years, the attitude has been that scoliosis exercises are of little or
no value. The idea is not new. The following is a statement made years ago by Risser:"It was
customary at the scoliosis clinic at ...Orthopedic Hospital, as late as 1920-1930, to send new
patients with scoliosis to the gymnasium for exercises. Invariably the patients who were 12 to
13 years of age showed an increase of the was therefore assumed that exercises
and spinal motion made the curve increase".
Except in some isolated cases, program of scoliosis exercises for patients continued to be
looked upon with skepticism. In the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 1985
Lecture series, this statement appears:"Physical Therapy cannot prevent a progressive
deformity, and there are those who believe specific spinal exercises programs work in a
counterproductive fashion by making the spine more flexible than it ordinarily would be and
by so doing making it more susceptible to progression".
Overemphasis on flexibility was wrong. Adequate musculoskeletal evaluation has been
lacking, and as a result there has been little scientific basis upon which to justify the selection
of therapeutic scoliosis exercises. Scoliosis is a problem of asymmetry. To restore symmetry
requires the use of asymmetrical scoliosis exercises along with appropriate
support. Stretching of tight muscles is desirable, but overall flexibility of the spine is not.
It is better to have stiffness in the best attainable position than to have too much flexibility of
the back.
Current Affairs

Klapp exercise system - its application in the treatment of scoliosis

Klapp exercises are used in corrective and compensative gymnastics. However, these exercices
can also be used by therapists, recreational animators, PE teachers and coaches of various
sports disciplines.

Klapp routines were developed at the beginning of the 20th century by the German physician Rudolf
Klapp and they are one of the most recognizable methods of treating scoliosis in the world these days.
Rudolf Klapp, as an orthopaedic surgeon, academic professor and founder of the school of
physiotherapy based his exercises on a thorough knowledge of comparative anatomy. Observations of
four-footed animals (whose lateral curvatures of the spine did not use to be monitored) and his
therapeutic experiences prompted him to reflect on the functions of the body during creeping
exercises, which allowed for the development of corrective exercises in the frontal plane.

The most common starting point is a kneeling position or other low positions. The movement
in these positions was developed on the basis of close chain of kinetic gait and other
movements of four-footed animals. Professor Klapp also believed that the mobility of the
spine is greater in the section located higher in relation to the stabilized position located in
the given position but lower. That is why, the selection of the starting position was dictated by
the localisation of primary spinal curvature the higher the curvature was localised, the
lower the position was. What is more, it was noted that depending on the selected position
the possibilities of influence on spinal curvatures in the sagittal plane change. Thus, Klapp
distinguished suitable lordotic and kyphotic starting positions for exercises, on the basis of
which further moves are made in accordance with 5 phases.

The potentialities of the application of Klapp exercises are vast and can constitute the
objective of a class or a complement both to PE classes, trainings and recreational and
remedial classes. Making the most of various accessories, teachers or instructors can use their
imagination in order to combine the contents of their lessons or trainings with Klapp
exercises and other techniques of influencing our health.
The classes you are invited to will be the proposal of such a hybrid they show you how to
apply Klapp exercises not only to the correction of postural defects in the frontal plane, but

also to the complement of a training unit or a PE class. Additionally, I will present how to use
these exercises in the functional training with the aid of sensomotor discs.
Rudolf Klapp
He was born in Arolsen (today Bad Arolsen is situated in the central-east part of Germany)
on 16th February in 1873. He was a physician orthopaedic surgeon. He earned the title of
professor at University in Greifswald in 1902 and in 1905 he had worked as a lecturer at
Universities in Bonn and Berlin (since 1907). At that time he created the system of scoliosis
treatments based on creeping exercises. Since 1928 he had worked at University in Marburg.

He took advantage of his medical experience in his school of physiotherapy that has existed
until now. The school gained recognition after presenting the set of exercises which consist in
grovelling at sports camp organised as part of Olympic games in Berlin in 1936. Nonetheless,
the fact that Rudlof Klapp belonged to the Schutzstaffel, Nazi Medical Association and
National Socialist Teachers Association has tarnished his reputation. He as a distinguished
representative of world science was strongly supported by national socialists. In 1933 he
signed a document in which he supported Adolph Hitler; hence, he became Dean of the
Faculty of Medicine at University of Marburg where he was working until retirement. He died
in Marburg on 15th February 1949.

Blau Evelyne, Rudolf Klapp Marburger Chirurg und Orthopde im dritten Reich, Marburg: Tectum-Verl.,
Klapp Rudolf,, [dostp: 31.07.2013].

dr Magorzata Kawa

Faculty of Sports Science,

University of Physical Education in Wrocaw
Photographer: Magorzata Kawa
proofreader: Aleksandra Kotala
translator: Arkadiusz Nowak
5th August 2013