Kate's Story - How Stretching And Strength Training Has Helped My Scoliosis 28 September 2016
If you know anyone with scoliosis, please share this story with them. Especially any young teenagers that have just been diagnosed. Scoliosis is nothing to be scared of and please know that there are avenues to explore before jumping straight into back braces and surgery (however I completely understand that this may be necessary for some cases). A little bit of dedication and love for our bodies can go a long way!
PS. If your back needs some relief, download the Get Bendy + Get Split bundle and make sure you have a stretch today!
At what age did you notice your scoliosis?
I first noticed my scoliosis when I was 14. I went from being one of the shortest kids in class, to one of the tallest. I was also born with something called "clicky hips" which meant I spent the first year of my life in a hip brace. I'm not sure if the two are related, but the clicky hips meant my legs grew to be slightly different lengths, which was only exacerbated by the development of scoliosis. Despite being told by multiple doctors that I had a "twisted spine" since I was a teenager, I wasn't formally diagnosed with scoliosis until I was 27. I have an S-curve about mid-way down my spine. At the base of my spine, I have an extreme rotation inwards. If you run your finger down my back, the bumpy vertebrae disappear where my spine twists inwards.
After I was diagnosed, I started seeing an osteopath. That helped so much, it helped me learn more about my back and the muscles surrounding it, including how it links with my stomach and my ribs etc. However, I found I became dependent on my osteo - approx. 3 days after my session I would be in more pain, and I found I wasn't in control. Following that, I started seeing a physiotherapist. She gave me some great exercises to do for strengthening my lower back (which is hyper-mobile due to the rotation) and loosening my upper back. I still do those exercises today, but I no longer see a physiotherapist.
Did your scoliosis cause you any pain?
My scoliosis caused me pain in so many different ways. I could never walk for more than 30-45 minutes at a time without feeling pain in my back. When I was cold, my back would ache so much. Walking up stairs would make my hip click and my lower back hurt. I also strongly believe that my scoliosis is attributed to my IBS. I used to be reliant on pain relief, and I would take so much ibuprofen that I can no longer take it as it damaged my stomach so much. Because I was diagnosed so late compared to others, I grew up believing it was normal to experience back pain like this.
How do you think strength training has helped?
I started exercising with strength training before I was formally diagnosed with scoliosis. As soon as I was diagnosed, there was a shift in my medical care. With the label scoliosis, doctors seemed more cautious and they wanted to prescribe me more pain killers. I truly believe I wouldn't have done strength training if I was diagnosed earlier. Strength training has helped my back so much. By building a stronger core, I have strengthened my muscles to better support my spine. Using body weight and free weight exercises means I am able to focus on both sides equally and ensure my stronger side doesn't over-compensate for my weaker side.
How has stretching helped?
For me stretching is an incredible source of relief. It is a gentle way to realign, strengthen and release muscle tension. The strength training I do means my muscles do get fatigued and sore sometimes, so stretching is a great way to ease that pain. It's not just about focusing on my back, I have found that if my glutes are tight, then my lower back will be sore too. Stretching is also amazing as it can be done anywhere - my favourite time is to stretch in front of the TV after dinner. I also have a few favourite stretches that I do every morning before I start my day. I personally don't like relying on practitioners (such as osteo's) to find relief from the pain scoliosis causes, so I am so glad I have found that relief in stretching.
Ultimately, scoliosis can be quite daunting. There are many different avenues you can go down to help yourself (physio, osteo etc) but at the end of the day the best thing you can do is empower yourself by finding something to help yourself, such as stretching and strength training.
I want to be as open and honest as possible, hopefully it will inspire just one person to try stretching instead of pain killers!!
Please forward on and share this inspiring transformation with anyone who might need to hear it.
Lots of love!
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