British London 10K Run - Westminster

British 10k London Run

I’m so excited!

This week it was confirmed that I have a place in the British 10K London run on 9th July and I’ll be running to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The British 10K London run takes runners through some of  London’s most iconic sites, such as Trafalgar Square, the Embankment, Big Ben and more.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund raises money to support people with scoliosis and their families, and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients. There is more information on the great work the Scoliosis Campaign Fund do in this useful information sheet.

Raising money for scoliosis…

I’ve been wanting to do something to raise awareness of scoliosis and raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund for absolutely ages, I just wasn’t sure what to do. When I saw an article in BackBone magazine about the British 10K London run last year, it inspired me to get involved and I knew that 2017 had to be the year.

It would be my ultimate dream to run the London Marathon for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, but I am nowhere near ready in terms of fitness and honestly, I don’t think my back could take it.

At the moment, I can just about run 5K and will need to train over the coming weeks in order to work myself up to 10K, so I’m ready for the event.

Scoliosis Campaign Fund T Shirt
Scoliosis Campaign Fund T Shirt

10K Training

As part of my training, I plan to follow a 10K training plan online, whilst also attending any Park Run I can and doing my usual spin classes and Body Pump classes at the gym. Over the past few weeks, I have been running (or jogging!) about 20-30minutes several times a week, as I am also doing the Great Manchester Run in May.

I do find running difficult at times with my back but I am determined to do this in order to raise money and awareness of scoliosis, especially as I never thought I’d ever be able to do anything like this following my scoliosis surgery.

A personal achievement

After my scoliosis surgery, I had to learn to walk all over again. I couldn’t bathe or dress myself and had to have help just getting out of bed. Running a 10K race for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund shows how far I’ve come and I will continue to keep pushing and challenging myself further to achieve my goals.

The British 10k London Run is a major fundraising event for the Scoliosis Campaign Fun and I’m really excited to be involved! I plan on posting regular updates on here with my progress and how I’m getting on with my training.

If you’d like to sponsor me and help to support the fantastic work of the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, you can do so by clicking the button below 🙂

Sponsor me on Virgin Money Giving

Thank you!

Louise X

P.s. if you’d also like to get involved in raising money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, there are loads of great fundraising ideas, resources and events you could get involved with available here – Scoliosis Campaign Fund – Fundraising Ideas.

Pin it and help me spread the word!

British 10k London Run - Support the Scoliosis Campaign Fund

One step forwards, two steps back…

In the main, I really try to be positive on this blog and inspire others. I also want to be honest and reflect what it’s really like living with scoliosis.

There are good days and bad days and well, tonight if I’m being honest, I’m feeling really fed up.

Leg Numbness

For the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting numbness down my right leg and into my foot. It’s not painful, it’s just numb and my right leg feels odd, almost like a heavy feeling. I went to the Drs about 6 months ago about it and the Dr I saw wasn’t too concerned. He said it was probably a result of my scoliosis surgery and I should come back if it gets worse. Well, it kind of has got worse so I went back to the Drs this week. The Dr I saw this week said as it’s lasted for this long it needs further investigation. It’s likely there’s an irritated nerve in my lower back which is causing my symptoms.

They can’t do an MRI because the metalwork will distort the image and so it’s back to physio for yet the hundredth time.

The Dr has also referred me back to my scoliosis surgeon so they can investigate the cause.

It could be caused by anything but I’m really worried that I have done this to myself through all the stuff I do at the gym (Body Pump, spin classes, running etc)..

Frustrations…

I feel really frustrated because whenever I start to feel happy or proud that I’m actually getting somewhere, my back tries to stop me or slow me down. Whether it’s back pain, a strained shoulder muscle or now leg numbness.

I recovered from my shoulder injury from two years ago (caused by my scoliosis..) and I was really pleased that as a result I could start exercising again. I’ve really been doing well recently with my running for example and have been really happy trying lots of new classes at the gym. I’ve finally started to feel like myself again after my surgery.

Now, it feels like I’m being punished for trying to be normal and lead an active life.

I feel like I’m going to be back and forward to physio and suffering with pain and numbness for the rest of my life, which really gets me down.

It’s like a constant reminder that I maybe can’t push myself as much as other people, and maybe I shouldn’t be doing high impact exercise. But on the other hand, I really enjoy it and I don’t want to be ruled by my back.

Now what?

I think now, I just feel a bit lost. I don’t know what I should be doing exercise wise anymore. Should I carry on with what I’ve been doing and stay active? Will this make my leg numbness worse? It seems like the Dr’s don’t know and I get varying opinions which just adds to my frustration. Some Dr’s and physios have told me I can do anything and some have said just stick to Pilates. Nobody seems to know what is best for those of us with scoliosis.

Even though my back feels old, I’m not and I don’t want it to stop me from living or doing the things I want to do. I’m not ready to give in just yet.

Body Pump Benefits

My Body Pump Results – part 1

So, a few months I wrote a post about how I have started to go to Body Pump classes at my gym in a bid to build strength. The reason I decided to start Body Pump was because, after injuring my shoulder muscles through running, I realised I needed to get stronger.

I think Body Pump for me is a way of taking control of my condition. Hopefully, by building stronger muscles, this will help to protect my back and core and hopefully reduce back pain over time. That’s my thinking, anyway.

I have always shied away from any kind of weights through feel of injuring my back. However, I now feel like this has had a negative effect and caused me to become very weak (especially in my upper body and back) over time. Add to that my scoliosis surgery where my back muscles were cut through and then subsequently wearing a back brace for 6 months, which meant that my back muscles weren’t really having to work at all. All this has left me very weak and vulnerable to injury when performing cardio such as a running.

Over the past year or so I have had a stark realisation that strength and resistance training is VITAL for me and I should have really started doing it years ago. The realisation came when I injured my shoulder when running (muscle strain) and then I had a body scan done at the gym which showed I had virtually NO muscle mass. This was not surprising really though, after everything I have been through!

Anyway, I wanted to follow up on my first post, update on how I’m finding Body Pump and share some small (but exciting!) victories with you.


My Body Pump Results so far…

I have now been going to Body Pump twice a week for about 6 months and have noticed that I am definitely getting stronger, which i find really exciting. It’s my favourite class in the gym and I really look forward to going. I think it’s so good because it’s FUN. As you are performing the exercises to music and in a group it’s more interesting and motivating then just lifting weights by yourself in the gym.

Below are a few benefits of Body Pump that I have noticed over the past 6 months:

        • I quickly noticed after a few months that my arms were getting more toned and defined. I now have (albeit small!!) definition in my arms and shoulders as you can see in the photo below (I really should have taken a “before” picture!)Body Pump Results
        • My strength has improved and although this is not necessarily visual, this is the reason I started Body Pump. When I started I pretty much used the lowest weight on the bar throughout the entire class (1.25kg on each side of the bar). For me, this was the right thing to do. As I had zero strength and I have scoliosis and so I knew I needed to take it easy to start with and ignore what everyone else was doing.
        • Now, I have double this for my warm up weight and am slowly increasing the amount of weight I add on to the bar for each exercise. I think it is important for anyone new to Body Pump to start light and increase the weights gradually, as Body Pump classes feature hundreds of reps and so you start to feel the burn with even the lightest of weights!
        • To give you an idea of my improvement, in 6 months I am now using the following weights (increased from 1.25kg when I first started):
        • Squats/lunges – 6.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Chest – 2.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Triceps – 3.75kg on each side of the bar
        • Biceps – 2.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Shoulders – 2.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Back – 3.75kg on each side of the bar
      • I’m sure many people would have increased even more in 6 months but as someone with zero strength 6 months ago and with my back condition I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I have been purposely taking it slow and not rushing to increase the weights in case I cause myself an injury. I still have a long way to go to increase my strength. I still can’t do a push up for example (without using my knees). But I feel like I am now on the right track and if I carry on, gradually increasing the weights and combining with a good diet and cardio, I should keep on improving and getting stronger.
      • Even though I have a long way to go, I have noticed that being slightly stronger in general is  having a positive effect on my other cardio activities, such as my running. I am able to run faster and for longer than ever before and I am sure that Body Pump is contributing towards my running improvements.

I will update again about how I’m getting on over the coming months and lets see where this takes me and how much more I can improve.

I’d be interested to know if any of my readers have ever tried Body Pump or any kind of weight or resistance training with scoliosis? Let me know in the comments below.

I do worry sometimes that I might injure myself but I just try to keep the weights light and have been building up very gradually over time to try and avoid this.

Louise X


To find out more about Body Pump follow this link.. BodyPump – group fitness


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.

 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).

Stairlifts Reviews 100 Best Disability Blogs

Blog Award: 100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers

I just wanted to write a quick post to say THANK YOU to Stairlifts Reviews for featuring my blog in their exclusive list of 100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers.

I’ve had a read of the other blogs on the list and there are some truly amazing and inspirational blogs and personal stories of people living with disabilities and long term conditions.

It really means a lot to me to have my blog noticed and listed with the high quality blogs featured 🙂

I started this blog to help and inspire others with scoliosis and who may be facing scoliosis surgery. I also wanted to raise awareness of scoliosis and so awards like this really mean the world and help to spread awareness of scoliosis.

If you would like to read some of the other inspirational blogs on the list, simply follow this link – 100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers.

Please also feel free to share my blog with others.

Thanks again!

Louise X

Running with Scoliosis

Running with Scoliosis: My Top Tips

This post contains affiliate links.


Recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of running. I completed my first Park Run in January and signed up to a few 10K races plus a 5K fun run this year.

So, should I be running with scoliosis?

The honest answer is I don’t really know.

I enjoy it, which is why I do it. I love the feeling I get after a run and the endorphins. It’s a great stress reliever and I love the fact that I can do it despite my scoliosis. I also love seeing myself improve and getting fitter and faster – especially because running is something I had always thought I wouldn’t be able to do post scoliosis surgery.

I do find running hard when I’m doing it but the sense of achievement I feel afterwards is addictive. Sometimes I worry that I’m putting pressure on the lower discs in my spine (that are unfused) by running. When I had my final post surgery checkup about a year after my surgery though, I asked my surgeon whether there was anything I can’t do. His answer was no – you can do anything. So that’s exactly what I do…!

I must admit I only started running a couple of years ago, which was 5 years after my scoliosis surgery. It did feel a bit strange at first and I had to gradually build up to running longer distances by mixing walking and running.


Running with Scoliosis - My Top Tips

My top tips for running with scoliosis

I’m of the opinion that scoliosis shouldn’t stop anyone from running if they want to and feel able. However, scoliosis causes muscle in-balances, which can make those of us with scoliosis more prone to injury. I myself have injured my shoulder muscles as a result of running and as a result I’m learning to adapt my running and training regime to put less strain on my back.

These are a few tips I’ve learnt over the past couple of years running with scoliosis (post scoliosis surgery):

Don’t push yourself too hard

This is really important and I learnt this the hard way. It’s important to build up gradually – don’t try to run too far and too fast too soon. I injured my shoulder muscles by pushing myself too hard. I stupidly gave myself a few weeks to train for a 10K race having never ran in my life. Don’t do this!! If you are used to running, that’s different. But when you have scoliosis you need to be patient with yourself and pushing yourself could cause injury. Try a couch to 5K programme or mix running with walking to start with. Listen to your body and if your back starts hurting stop or take a rest.

Build up your strength

Having strong muscles is vital for running to prevent injury. Again, I learnt this the hard way and have always been afraid of weights etc in case I damage my back. This was the WRONG thing to do as it left me very weak and vulnerable to injury. I now know that it’s vital to complement running with strengthening exercises such as Pilates or any exercises focusing on the core muscles. I have been doing Body Pump classes for about 6 months now and am looking to start a class that just focuses on the core muscles soon. Exercises like The Plank are fantastic for building core strength.

Wear decent trainers

Running with Scoliosis

Decent trainers can make a HUGE difference to the impact on your spine and help to reduce back pain. I love Skechers memory foam trainers (I have a couple of pairs now) as they absorb the impact on your spine.

Make sure you stretch regularly

This is important for any runner but when you have scoliosis, the muscle in-balances can make your muscles feel extra tight. This is because one side often has to work harder than the other side and as a result the muscles become overworked and tired. I get really tight muscles down one side of my back due to this and a good stretch really helps. I really like the bottom to heels stretch and this Pilates for scoliosis book has some great stretches for scoliosis.

Take rest days and mix it up!

Running with scoliosis

Make sure you rest in between runs. After a 5K or 10K run my lower back DOES hurt and I need a rest. I find if I run 30 or 40 minutes for say two days in a row, my back will start to hurt and my shoulder starts twinging. I’m not sure I could run every day for example. I think it’s the repetitiveness of running that my back muscles don’t like, as I injured my shoulder when I was running almost every day training for a 10K. So I now try to vary my cardio by mixing running with other exercises such as the cross trainer and spin classes.  I think it’s important to not overdo running and mix it in with other things to reduce the strain on your back muscles.

Don’t compare yourself to others

This is the crucial one! I am so guilty of this. I compare myself to everyone all the time. For example, there’s people who I go to the gym with who can run faster than me and I hate it. I wish I could run as fast as the people at Park Run who can finish a 5K in under 20 minutes. It’s important though to remember your limitations. Running with scoliosis doesn’t mean you can’t run as fast as others but you should pace yourself. And be proud of what you CAN do!

Running with Scoliosis

I personally find running fast very difficult and it feels more comfortable on my back when I am jogging at a gentle pace. When I try to go faster I end up hurting myself or feeling pain. Everyone’s different and I am just SO grateful that I can even run 5K, 10K etc, as I never thought it would even be possible.

The important thing when running with scoliosis is to start gradually and build strength in the back, core and legs which will help to build up speed and distance safely over time.


Do you have scoliosis and do any running? What are your experiences and have you got any tips? I would love to hear from you – let me know in the comments below 🙂

Louise x


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.

 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).

Veganuary - why I went Vegan for a month

Veganuary: why I went vegan for a month

This January, as part of my New Years Resolution, I took part in Veganuary.

For those of you who have not heard of Veganuary, it’s basically going vegan for the month of January.

So this may seem slightly unrelated to scoliosis but I feel like for me, healthy eating and looking after myself goes hand in hand with scoliosis. I feel like I try and eat healthily and work out BECAUSE I have scoliosis. It’s kind of my way of taking control I think. Plus, for those of us with scoliosis it’s important to stay trim to relieve the pressure on our spines 🙂

Now that we’ve reached the end of January, I wanted to give a quick update about how I got on!


First of all, how DO you go Vegan for a month?

Veganuary Smoothies

Going Vegan means giving up all foods that contain animal products including meat, fish and dairy. To start with, it’s quite difficult. There are loads of foods that I didn’t realise contained milk for example (it seems to be in EVERYTHING!!) It means most processed foods are out and you have to cook from scratch quite a bit (which is healthier anyway but means planning ahead). You tend to eat much more fruit, veg, plant based milk/margarine, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.

I have a few vegan cookbooks now and actually find vegan cooking really easy. Most vegan recipes have only a few, healthy ingredients and are quick to do but packed with flavour (full of herbs and spices). There are vegan alternatives to most foods (e.g. milk, yoghurt, margarine, cheese etc) and you can make a YUMMY “cheese” sauce from coconut milk and butternut squash!


Why did I go Vegan for a month?

Veganuary - Avocado on Toast

I decided to try it mainly for health reasons and a “detox” after over indulging at Christmas! I basically wanted to eat healthily for the new year, especially as I’ve signed up to a few 10K races. Plus I find that dairy doesn’t really agree with me and makes me bloated and I don’t usually eat meat normally (only fish). So it seemed like a good choice for me. Finally, I like a good challenge and wanted to see if I could do it for a full month. Plus, a plant based diet can cut out cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.


What are the benefits?

Veganuary Curry

Aside from the above, I feel like my skin is clearer and I lost a bit of weight. I also feel less bloated and am sleeping better. In general, I just feel healthier. I have a slight confession to make in that I didn’t eat 100% healthily for the whole month. There are some junk foods that are vegan (some flavours of Pringles for example..) but generally I ate well by cooking from scratch most days.


What were the hardest parts?

I found being Vegan fairly easy at home when I could prepare my meals and I knew what I was putting in them. The hardest part for me was lunchtime at work. The local Co-op by my work has hardly any Vegan options in their lunchtime meal deals and so I had to make sure I made my own lunch each day. It was also difficult eating at friend’s houses or eating out as most restaurants have a couple of vegetarian options but usually no (or limited) Vegan options. Food packaging could also be confusing too, as most foods will say “Vegetarian” but not “Vegan” even if it is vegan.

I also found I felt quite hungry in the evenings and sometimes had limited things I could snack on as many of my usual snacks had milk in them (e.g things like certain crisps, snack a jacks or crackers). The main thing is to be prepared. I stocked up on Vegan snacks such as nak’d bars, Trek bars and popcorn. 🙂 It would probably be harder for those who eat meat but it wasn’t too much of a transition for me, it was more a case of making sure I had Vegan snacks in the flat!

Veganuary - Vegan Snacks
Veganuary – Vegan Snacks

It was a challenge cooking from scratch in the weekday evenings, especially when getting back late after the gym. I got around this by batch cooking and freezing meals in advance or making enough to last a few days. I also bought a soup maker which was an absolute lifesaver! It meant I could just chuck loads of veg and (vegan) stock together and it would be ready and (hot and blended) in 20 minutes!

Veganuary - Vegan Soup
Veganuary – Vegan Soup

Veganuary Veg

Overall, I have really enjoyed taking part in Veganuary and I think now January is over, I’m going to carry on with the Vegan diet (mostly!) I’ve found that I’ve really got into and enjoy Vegan cooking, plus I feel better too!

I think going forwards, I’ll definitely follow a mostly Vegan diet when I’m at home. However, I will probably relax it a bit when I go out for meals as I’ve found it quite difficult this month when eating out.