My First Park Run

My First Park Run: Delamere Forest

I’ve been meaning to go to a Park Run for the last 6 months (since I registered last year). I’ve been putting it off though, mainly because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to run the full 5K without stopping.

I got into running about two years ago now, when a friend invited me to run a 10K Race for Life for Cancer Research. That was my first ever organised race and I had about 5 weeks to train (from never having done any running in my life)!! I managed to do it in about 1 hour 17 minutes though and was pretty chuffed with myself.


Running with scoliosis…

After this, I got the running bug and continued to run in my spare time and at the gym. Unfortunately though, I injured my shoulder shortly after this and had to take a break from running for a while. I attended physio and was told my injury was due to my scoliosis. As scoliosis is a side-ways curvature of the spine, and mine is pretty severe, one side of my back has muscles that are more developed than the other side. The more developed side has to over-compensate for the weaker side, which means I am more vulnerable to pain and injuries.

Due to the pain, I decided to stop running for a while and focused on getting my back and shoulders stronger. I started going to Body Pump classes to improve my strength and spin classes to improve my fitness while I wasn’t running. I got a bit impatient though and signed up to a 5K mud run last year. I found the running part very tough though and had to stop a few times on the way round.


New Year, new running goals…

This year, after 6 months of body pump classes, I felt like my back was finally ready to cope with running again. So as part of my New Year Resolutions, I decided to try and get back into running. Earlier this month, I signed up to a couple of 10K races later in the year for motivation and vowed to finally make it to a Park Run.

Park Run Quote Scoliosis


The moment of truth…

The day I chose (Saturday 28th January) wasn’t exactly the best weather wise. It was freezing and chucking it down with rain. Nevertheless, I dragged myself and my boyfriend out of bed at 7am, determined to do it.

When we arrived at Delamere, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or whether I’d be able to make it round without stopping. I’ve ran/jogged 5K on the treadmill a few times recently but there’s a difference from being on a treadmill to being outside in the freezing cold rain and mud.

I needn’t have worried though.

As soon as we arrived I was put at ease. As we all gathered by the start line, one of the friendly volunteers asked if there was anyone there who hadn’t done it before and explained everything to us. We basically just had to run/jog/walk round and at the end they scanned our bar code and gave us our time. It wasn’t a race and there were people there of all abilities and ages (even dogs!)

I was totally unorganised in the excitement of it all and forgot to turn my RunKeeper app on until about 0.5Km of the way round. I also couldn’t get my headphones on quick enough as the run started, so I had to run with no music, which I’m not used to!

In the end though, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The weather was bad which made the track very wet and slippy but despite this, I managed to RUN THE WHOLE 5K WITHOUT STOPPING!!

Not only that, my time was pretty good (for me!) at 33 minutes. This to me is a HUGE achievement and I cannot tell you how proud I am of myself for doing it and finishing at this time. To be honest, I didn’t care about the time I just wanted to get round without stopping.

There were 280 runners and I wasn’t last! Woohoo!


Park Run Results Delamere
My Park Run Results

I have ran 5K before but a year ago it would take me around 40 minutes, so I have really improved. Plus, I think if the weather and conditions were better I may have been able to get round even quicker. We also started at the back (as we didn’t know what to expect) which made it harder to get past people at the start.

I really think the Body Pump and spin classes have improved my fitness and running capabilities. This was the first run in a long time where it actually felt comfortable, easy-ish and I actually enjoyed myself. I love the endorphins I get after a good run and felt on a high for a good few hours after I finished. I think it was endorphins that kept me going in the end.

Delamere is a lovely venue for Park Run and I really enjoyed the scenery of the forest and lake (even if it was ridiculously muddy!) There were also a few hills thrown in! The volunteers and other runners were all really friendly too and it’s like a lovely community. I especially loved how some runners who had finished quickly stayed and cheered the rest of us on.

I NEVER EVER thought that I’d be able to run 5K after I had my scoliosis surgery 6 years ago. However, I have continued to train and push myself and continue to improve as the years go on. It’s an amazing feeling!

I would highly recommend Park Run to anyone. It’s free and really well organised with loads of friendly people. I am definitely planning on going regularly so that I can keep on improving! I’ll also try and take more pictures next time.

ParkRun


Pilates for Scoliosis - Curves Twists and Bends

Pilates for Scoliosis: Review of Curves, Twists and Bends

This post contains affiliate links

I recently purchased the above book from Amazon “Curves, Twists and Bends: A Practical Guide to Pilates with Scoliosis” and thought I’d share my honest opinion.

Pilates is something I’ve always wanted to get into, as I know it’s important for me to have a strong core. I have been to the odd Pilates class over the years but I’ve always left feeling underwhelmed.

The issues I’ve had with Pilates classes are:

  • Some Pilates exercises I can’t do due to my fused spine.
  • The classes have been too big for one-on-one guidance.
  • I’ve  worried about doing the exercises incorrectly due to my scoliosis.
  • I’ve felt embarrassed being singled out due to my “condition.”

This year however, I really want to focus on strengthening my core muscles and maybe giving Pilates a chance. I feel like this is especially important because I am starting to get into running again.  They do have Pilates classes at my gym but I don’t fancy going for the above reasons. Also, I feel like I need to be taught by someone who has experience in teaching people with scoliosis to truly benefit.

So…I had a bit of a look online and came across this Pilates for scoliosis book on Amazon and thought I’d give it a try.


What I like about this book..

  • It’s written by Annette Wellings, who suffers from major scoliosis herself and is a trained Pilates instructor. This reassures me that she understands scoliosis and that the exercises are tailored to help scoliosis.
  • It explains very clearly and in detail the causes of scoliosis pain, and provides specific exercises to target specific “bossy” and “underdeveloped” muscles that develop as a result of scoliosis. I found this part of the book really interesting as it helped me to understand why I get the pain I do.
  • The exercises are categorised into 7 categories:
    • The basic top 10.
    • Stretches.
    • De-rotation exercises.
    • Lengthening exercises.
    • Letting go of the bossy muscle.
    • Teaching the weak side to talk.
    • Pelvic Stability.

This is useful because you can choose the exercises that suit your particular situation (see below).

Pilates for Scoliosis - Exercises
Pilates for Scoliosis – Exercises
  • The book features easy to follow “stick person diagrams” to illustrate how to do each exercise (shown below).
Pilates for Scoliosis- Exercise Example
Example of the exercise illustration
  • Most exercises can be performed whether you have had scoliosis surgery or not. The ones that may be difficult for those who have had scoliosis surgery are specified.
  • There are so few reliable resources out there on Pilates for scoliosis, that it’s a breath of fresh air to actually have a book with Pilates exercises tailored for scoliosis.

What I wasn’t so sure about..

  • As the book is aimed at the general reader, there is quite a lot of information at the beginning of the book about scoliosis. For example, what it is, types and causes. I didn’t really find this useful as I already knew most of it and just wanted to get into the exercises.
  • Some of the exercises aren’t relevant to people that have had scoliosis surgery (although it does state).
  • While the stick diagrams are good, it may have been clearer to supplement some of the exercises with pictures/photographs of someone performing them.
  • Towards the end of the book there’s a chapter called “Strategies for Living with Scoliosis.” Again, while some parts of it could be useful for someone who hasn’t had surgery (e.g. clothing advice), I thought this wasn’t really that relevant if you’ve had surgery to correct scoliosis, or you’ve been living with scoliosis for a long time. On the other hand, if you’ve been recently diagnosed with scoliosis, this information would probably be very useful.

Overall..

For me, there was a lot of information in this book that I already knew and wasn’t really relevant. I think if you’ve had scoliosis for a while you’ll probably already know about it and how to cope with the condition. However, the section explaining the psychology of scoliosis and understanding scoliosis pain was really interesting.

There aren’t many reliable resources out there for Pilates for scoliosis – especially for people who have had the surgery. Therefore, the exercises in the book will be useful for anyone with scoliosis, whether you’ve had surgery or not.

They are gentle, low impact exercises and stretches designed to improve muscle strength and reduce the pain and muscle tightness associated with scoliosis.

It has good reviews on Amazon and is pretty good value so I would definitely recommend if you are looking for some safe Pilates exercises to help with scoliosis.

I think this book would be of particular use to those who have recently been diagnosed and want to learn more about the condition and ways to manage pain.



Related Posts

My Favourite Scoliosis Exercises


Disclaimers:

This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing or starting a new fitness routine.

The exercises listed in this article are intended to be helpful for those who have either not had scoliosis surgery or who have fully recovered. They will not be suitable for everyone with scoliosis. I accept no responsibility or liability for any injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of the exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during any exercise, stop immediately.

If you have recently had scoliosis surgery, speak to your Dr/physiotherapist in order to get tailored exercises for you while you recover. You will need to be very careful and it will probably be difficult to do anything other than walking and simple exercises for a while. (Remember NO bending, lifting or twisting for at least 6 months following scoliosis surgery).

Simple scoliosis exercises

10 simple scoliosis exercises you can do at work

When you work full time, it is sometimes difficult to fit in enough time each week to exercise. Having scoliosis means keeping core muscles strong in order to protect the spine. We have to be more determined in maintaining a healthy body, no matter how busy our schedule gets.

I thought I’d share a useful infographic which shows some simple exercises that you can do right in the comfort of your office. The best part about these exercises is that you don’t need any equipment or a gym membership. All you need is a few minutes each day to improve muscle tone and spine health.

If you work in an office like I do, the most important thing you can do is to get up and move around as much as you can. Sitting down all day is really bad for our backs but this is especially true for those of us with scoliosis. Try and go for a walk at lunch time and get up regularly to stretch your legs. I try and go for a 30 minute walk each day in my lunch break.

It’s important though, that you take care to avoid putting a strain on your spine with any exercises. You should make adjustments or do safer variations of the below exercises where necessary. For example, if you struggle with full push ups (like me!) you can do a knee push up variation instead of doing it with your weight on your toes.

I personally also struggle with crunches since my fusion surgery, but you could try a partial crunch instead. Another amazing core exercise for scoliosis is the Plank, which you may find easier.

Make sure you consult your scoliosis specialist or Dr before trying any new exercises. Avoid any exercise that causes discomfort or pain.

10 simple scoliosis exercises: Infographic

10 Exercises for Busy Entrepreneurs (SBO)

Disclaimers:

This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing or starting a new fitness routine.

The exercises listed in this article are intended to be helpful for those who have either not had scoliosis surgery or who have fully recovered. They will not be suitable for everyone with scoliosis. I accept no responsibility or liability for any injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of the exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during any exercise, stop immediately.

If you have recently had scoliosis surgery, speak to your Dr/physiotherapist in order to get tailored exercises for you while you recover. You will need to be very careful and it will probably be difficult to do anything other than walking and simple exercises for a while. (Remember NO bending, lifting or twisting for at least 6 months following scoliosis surgery).

 

Scoliosis Surgery What to bring to hospital

Scoliosis surgery what to bring to hospital

I get asked a lot what to bring to hospital for scoliosis surgery, so I’ve compiled a helpful list. I know how stressful it can all be so I’ve also created a checklist that you can easily download and print – see the link at the end of this post.

Below are items that I found useful when I was recovering from scoliosis surgery in hospital but they are probably relevant for any back surgery. I hope you find it useful!

Scoliosis Surgery what to bring to hospital…

Dressing Gown

You will need a dressing gown as it can get cold in hospital and they are good for covering your dignity, as hospital gowns often open at the back!

PJ’s / Nighties

You will probably wear the hospital gown for the first few days but I would recommend taking a few of your own PJ’s or nighties as it makes you feel better. For females, nighties are preferable because you will be wearing a catheter for a while and it’s easier when you are wearing a nightie.

Slippers with grip

Some comfy slippers will keep your feet nice and warm but the grip is important for walking round the ward. You really don’t want to slip after back surgery!

Comfy socks

Comfy socks are good for keep you warm and cosy (fluffy bed type socks are ideal).

Underwear

You’ll need enough underwear for your stay but note that you probably won’t be able to wear a bra in hospital or for a while after the surgery. It’s far too painful for the first few weeks.

Travel sized toiletries in a wash bag

Travel sized toiletries are ideal to save space (you don’t have much space for your stuff in the ward). I fit all mine in a medium sized wash bag and carried this around with me. They put your details on it with a sticker so they know that it’s yours in ICU.

Toiletries to include would be:  Shower gel/Body wash, Face wipes/Body wipes to freshen up,
antibacterial hand gel, soap, shampoo, toothbrush/toothpaste, shaver, deodorant, body spray, moisturiser (your skin gets very dry in hospital) and lip balm/Vaseline (your lips also get very very dry).

Tissues

Useful to have by your bed if you need to freshen up. Not nice but I was sick quite a bit after my surgery so I used a lot of tissues.

Sanitary towels

Important for female patients. The anesthetic can bring on your period and it’s best to take your own supplies trust me!

Dry shampoo (life-saver!!)

Take LOADS of dry shampoo as you will not be able to wash your hair for a while and it just makes you feel better.

Hair brush and hair bobbles/hair clips

Your hair can get quite matted lying down a lot so it’s nice to have a brush to make you feel better. I remember I also had lots of glue stuck in my hair from the wires and things they attach during surgery. Some people plait/braid their hair before surgery to make it more manageable.I had mine cut quite short as I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage it for a while afterwards.

Loose dress / cardigan to wear after surgery/comfy day clothes – the looser the better!

You will spend the first few days in a hospital gown and then whatever PJ’s you have brought. Eventually you will feel well enough to get changed out of your pajamas and when you do you will need extremely loose fitting clothes. This is because your back will be too sore for tight clothes and they will be too awkward to get on. I spent most of my time in comfy leggings and loose dresses/shirts. You will also need an outfit for the day you are discharged.

Bath towel/flannel/sponge

You will need your own bath towel and  a flannel/sponge, as the nurses will use this to wash you with to start with. Once you are able, you will wash yourself in your bed and eventually you can go to the bathroom and wash there. You will only be able to do a body wash to start with, you will not be able to have a full shower for a while after this surgery, as you can’t get the wound wet.

Straws and plastic cups / beakers

Straws are really important because to start with, it’s extremely difficult to sit up and take a drink. Having a plastic beaker (preferably with a lid) and a straw means you can drink while lying/sitting in bed much easier.

Fruit squash

I drank a lot of Vitamin Water for energy. It’s important to keep hydrated after surgery to prevent infections such as Urinary Tract Infections. Catheters can cause these so if you are prone to them, some diluted cranberry juice may be helpful.

Some dry foods like biscuits / healthy snacks

Dry foods are important because you may (like me) feel very sick for the first few days. I was very sick as a result of the anesthetic and so couldn’t eat much apart from dry biscuits.

Mints

Mints are a good idea for freshening up and making you feel better, especially if you’ve been sick and are not well enough to clean your teeth.

Books/magazine/puzzle books

You may need something to keep you occupied while you are in hospital (I was in hospital for 2 weeks). Although I was too ill too read anything for the first week. It was only in the second week that I could manage to read anything.

Electronic Entertainment

You may also want to take something for entertainment like a tablet, e-reader orMP3 player and some headphones. Just be cautious of taking anything too valuable as you may not be in the best condition to look after your things. It may be better to ask family members to bring any personal electronic devices in for you as you start to feel better.

Also different hospitals have different rules about the use of personal electronic devices. It’s best to check with your hospital first so you know what you can bring/use.

Pen and notepad

It’s always worth taking a pen and notepad or some paper, just in case you need it.

Other personal belongings

This would include your mobile phone, purse (only take a small amount of money), any paperwork (hospital letters including your admission letter) and any medication you may be taking, along with doses written down.

If you wear reading glasses, you will also need to bring those.

Ear plugs / sleeping mask

These can come in useful, especially if you are on a ward. It can get very noisy at night and it can be hard to sleep.

Any home comforts

Anything that will make you feel more comfortable really. A favourite pillow or blanket for example to keep you warm.

Emergency numbers

It’s probably a good idea to have some emergency numbers written down just in case, including for your GP.

Don’t forget!

Before you arrive at the hospital for your operation, you’ll need to remove any nail polish, body piercings and jewellery.  This is mainly for hygiene reasons and so that the surgeons can see your nails during surgery.


Scoliosis Surgery what to bring to hospital – free downloadable checklist

For your free downloadable scoliosis surgery hospital checklist, click the link below.

Scoliosis Surgery what to bring to hospital


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Scoliosis Surgery - what to bring to hospital


Related Posts:

Preparing for Scoliosis Surgery

Scoliosis Surgery Questions

 

Image credit: Mufidah Kassalias via Flickr.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year (and a plea!)

I just wanted to write a quick post to wish anyone who might read my blog a very happy 2017!

I still can’t believe 2017 is here (seriously HOW did that happen?) last year went so fast.

So it’s around this time of year that I always get reflective, where am I going? What am I doing? What is the purpose of life? etc etc. I also look back at the previous year and what I have achieved.

In terms of my back I think I have achieved a lot over the past 12 months. I also tried some new things I never thought I could do…

  • I got back into running and did my first ever mud run for charity. I also started focusing more on getting strong (partly due to injuring my shoulder muscles by running and having weak back muscles).
  • I took up Body Pump a few months ago and it is now my fave ever workout class. I can already notice myself getting stronger and my muscles are becoming more defined.
  • I also started spin classes and feel fitter than ever as a result (spin classes are EVIL though).

Yes, I do get back pain. I have days where it really hurts, especially at the bottom of my back.  And sometimes I worry, am I overdoing things? But in 2016 I had a shift in my mindset. After injuring my shoulder through running I realised I need to get stronger. I’m not invincible. My muscles are so weak from never ever doing any strengthening exercises that it makes me very vulnerable to injury and worse back pain in the future. This is even more of a risk because I have scoliosis and muscle imbalances already.

So what are my back / fitness goals for 2017?

    • Focus on getting STRONG – I will be doing the 30 day plank challenge throughout January. I will also continue to go to Body Pump twice a week and gradually increase the amount of weights I can lift. I am determined to be strong enough to do a push up!! (Still can’t do those!)
    • Related to the above, I’m determined to get into Pilates too.
    • I really want to do a massive personal challenge of some kind and raise some money for Scoliosis Association while I’m at it (any ideas people? Let me know in the comments!)
    • I’m thinking of signing up to a 10K race or half marathon. A half marathon might be a bit much but I like to push myself 😉

A plea to my lovely readers…

In terms of personal goals, 2017 is the year I am going to dedicate to this blog. I plan to add regular content that is (hopefully!) helpful to those who live with scoliosis.

If you read my blog, firstly THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

If there is any content you’d like me to include on this blog, please let me know!

Just comment below or send me a quick email. I love hearing from readers of my blog as it keeps me going, plus sometimes I wonder if anyone even reads it haha 🙂

Also, if you or someone you know has scoliosis and you would like to share your story or write a guest post I would love to feature it on my blog, so please get in touch 🙂

helpformyscoliosis@hotmail.co.uk

That’s all for now,

Happy New Year!

Louise X

Related Posts:

My 5 Favourite Scoliosis Exercises

Body Pump

Pretty Muddy