This is not the blog you might be expecting. It’s not a ‘woe is me’ type story, or how I’ve overcome some huge adversity in my life – this is not one of those inspirational stories. It’s quite the opposite in fact. Scoliosis is SO common and my scoliosis is fairly mild compared to some (a lot of people would be surprised to know I have it), but this is my story of how it’s shaped my life and how if you’ve got it, it could shape yours too.
Scoliosis is curvature of the spine. It is usually detected in adolescence. Female adolescents account for approximately 90 per cent of cases. There are a few different types of scoliosis but the most common is idiopathic – meaning the cause is unknown and it is not associated with any other disease or disorder. Scoliosis varies in severity. It may go unnoticed and be left untreated, but, if it does go untreated, curves can worsen and cause pain and complications with the ribs and lungs etc. There are some treatment options available for severe cases including surgery however, there is no ‘cure’. It is a condition that is managed for symptom relief.
My scoliosis was diagnosed when I went to see an amazing remedial massage therapist when I was 16. I was there for a soft tissue injury that had occurred while I was dancing but little did we know that the series of injuries I had been experiencing as a child and teen were actually because my alignment was so poor. X-rays confirmed it but also showed that it wasn’t severe enough for surgery (yet), so we were told by the Drs that there was not much to do. Luckily, my massage therapist suggested to my mum that I start Pilates to help me to learn how to move properly and build my body awareness.
That suggestion changed my life.
I was a pretty unhealthy teenager… and even that may be an understatement. I was raised to eat healthy foods and not given much junk as a child BUT as soon as I could make my own decisions I went to TOWN on alllll the junk. My favourite drinks were iced coffee, coke and cordial, I HATED water and loved KFC and chocolate. I was always fairly fit (thank goodness) but my anxiety started to build in my later teens. I didn’t recognise it for what it was straight away, thinking that fainting at work and hyperventilating might have just been a weird phase. Turns out it wasn’t. I hated slowing down, breath work or yoga. I used to injure myself frequently if I played netball, danced or went for a run. Pain in my sacrum, hips and lower back became a common thing.
My Pilates sessions were one on one, once a week. I am forever grateful to my parents for those sessions.
Slowly but surely, I started to learn. I was blessed to have found the most incredible Pilates instructor, who turned into a life mentor. He taught me about my body, my mind, how I functioned, how I moved and how to change it. I slowly started making better decisions with my food and noticed the effects on my body. I realised that the reason I hated slowing down and breath work was because I just wasn’t good at it. My nervous system was on high alert 24/7. As my alignment changed, my injuries lessened.
He taught me how to walk differently and how to breathe.
Two fundamental things that changed my scoliosis, my anxiety and my whole world.
Over the years, I’ve done a complete 180. My diet is pretty clean, certainly not perfect, but balanced. I am SO aware of my body. I can notice the slightest increase in my anxiety and use tools to get onto it straight away – panic attacks are a thing of the past. My alignment has improved out of sight, most people looking at me would not know I have scoliosis. I can run and play sports without fear of injury and I can’t recall the last time I had pain from my sacrum or hips. I LOVE slowing down and utilising breath techniques. I still have scoliosis and it still causes me problems from time to time but I’ve halted the worsening of the curvature, if anything, it’s actually improved.
My Pilates mentor and the changes made on my life are the reason I am a Pilates instructor today. Nothing gives me more joy than sharing these techniques with people and watching their bodies and lives change like mine did.
So, my message is this: If you have scoliosis (or your child does) PLEASE don’t leave it unaddressed. It does get worse and there is SO much that can be done before you’re looking down the barrel of surgery, early intervention is critical.
Learn about your body,
Learn how to move differently, how to hold yourself differently.
Learn your triggers and how to control them.
Learn about your breath and how it impacts your body and posture – this can be life changing on its own.
And if you don’t know where to start, please get in touch. I’d be happy to help guide you on your journey.
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Please note: This information is intended to help inform and increase your awareness, however, it is not designed to replace an individualised assessment from your chosen health care professional to ensure you get the correct information for you. Please get in touch if you would like more personalised support in this area.