Scoliosis: How Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates Can Heal

Back injuries and spinal problems like scoliosis can be incredibly debilitating. But there is hope with regular exercise, stretching, and patience.rn

stretch_neck_woman_back_pain_scoliosis_picAs vertebrates, our backs and bones have become the most important part of the human body, used to stabilize us and protect our spinal cords in addition to providing support to the skull.

You never appreciate what you have until it goes away. This is especially true in matters of health.  When we become injured or experience discomfort, even if it’s a slight discomfort, we realize how important our health is to us. Many of us miss signals that the body sends. We self-medicate, we ignore, and often, when it is already too late to treat ourselves naturally, we finally stop and seek professionals for treatment or diagnosis.

The spine became a crucial issue in my life when I was diagnosed with scoliosis with a curvature of fifteen degrees at age the age of fifteen.  My life then took a different course, which is the story of today, of how to stop and consider my health and what measures could be taken to avoid surgery. I discovered that many wait until it is too late to try to remedy scoliosis. Some people develop a hump weighing several kilos that could be accompanied by severe pain affecting  behavior, mood, and way of life.

The spinal column provides structural support to the trunk and surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The spine consists of thirty three vertebrae, spread over five regions:

  •  Cervical region (7 vertebrae C1-C7)
  •  Thoracic region (12 vertebrae T1-T12)
  •  Lumbar region (5 vertebrae L1-L5)
  •  Sacral region (5 vertebrae S1-S5)
  •  Coccygeal region (four vertebrae, changeable) 2

spine_parts of spine_picThe majority of aches and pains occur in the lumbar and the cervical regions due to the routine of everyday life. Most of the professions of this generation are in a seated position for more than one third of the day.  These hours spent sitting in an office and using the computer, not to mention the countless time spent in traffic each day, aggravate the hump.   

Due to various falls during childhood as well as a genetic condition on my mother’s side, I started early with back problems.  This included ten long years of pain, with frequent visits to the physiatrist, chiropractor, and undertaking numerous studies and therapies to relieve pain, which became a frequent punishment for me.   Moments of despair and frustration accompanied my ten years of work.  I even joked that I was searching online to purchase a new back on eBay, but no one ever listed one!

My physiotherapist informed me during recovery sessions that my core muscles were very weak and injured and that there were only four ways to battle my scoliosis:

  • Daily exercise
  • Stretching
  • Perseverance
  • Patience

Scoliosis can interrupt and have a significant impact on performing daily activities.  Carrying out regular activities aggravated the pain: sitting, standing, walking in heels, driving, working on the computer, and sleeping. Then came a day when my father gave me a gift–a yoga book. This was my initiation into the world of fitness in Venezuela. When I was nineteen, I decided to embark on a journey to the United States. I lived in Chicago for three years where I started going to the gym and learning workout routines; however, the pain grew worse, due to weaknesses in my body, especially the neck and lower back.

I proceeded to spend the first years learning yoga and Pilates, attending classes three times a week and strengthening with weights three times a week.  I moved to Toronto, Canada, where I enhanced my fitness studies and started a fitness class known as Body Flow, which fuses together Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates. This class captivated me, especially Tai Chi, which worked off of the energy generated by the body in order to stretch and lengthen the body through fluid energy, yoga_man_women_upward_dog_stretch_breathe_studio_friends_picbreathing and movements synchronized with harmony and the figure of the body. Over time, the pain receded until one day I woke up without it.  Incredibly, the pain disappeared and my back felt strong.  My breathing was controlled, and I had strong abdominal muscles that provided a great deal of support. My posture improved 100%. My right shoulder still remains a little low, but unnoticeably so. My joy was so immense when I realized that the pain was gone. It was a new beginning and a complete liberation. 

In 2009, I progressed from student to class instructor, and at this time I fell in love with Yoga even more. I studied Yoga with Yoga Fit, and I specialized in personal training to improve posture and back and spinal pain. My clients have improved tremendously, and the vast majority have successfully battled against their personal back pains afflictions.

By improving posture, self-esteem also improves.  Correct posture is crucial because it is how we project ourselves to the world.

Remember that by focusing on solutions, with dedication and effort, any goal we set can be achieved. And by stretching, regular exercise, perseverance, and patience, you can overcome terrible back problems.

Now that you know there is help for your back, try these strengthening exercises!


Sunwarrior

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