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Back the Back Walk Scoliosis

Interview with Freya – founder of Back the Back Walk for Scoliosis

Hi Freya! Tell me a bit about yourself and your scoliosis history, how old were you when you first diagnosed and how did you feel at the time?

Hi Louise! I am the founder and organiser of Back the Back Walk. I’m from Buckinghamshire, I have just turned 20, I finished school two years ago, and I am going to Durham University this September to study Music, first study voice.

I was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis when I was 11 years old – my mum first noticed that one of my shoulder blades stuck out more than the other when I was swimming, and I had x-rays done just a couple of months later. My curve was in the lumber region, but I had a compensatory curve at the top, which was misaligning my ribcage. I had surgery less than 6 months later, and the curve had already progressed by about 15 degrees and was beginning to rotate as well. Before the surgery, I was very lucky and didn’t really have any pain unless I sat in one position for a long time – more than anything, I felt frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get on with school and life in general as it wasn’t obviously impacting me at the time, and hated the fact that everyone was making such a fuss!

Back the Back Walk Scoliosis Freya
Back the Back Walk Scoliosis Freya

I can see you underwent scoliosis surgery to correct your scoliosis. How old were you and what impacted your decision to undergo surgery?

I had my surgery when I was 11, and was basically told that I didn’t have a choice – the curve was already past the point of being corrected by bracing, and if I didn’t have the surgery it would continue to progress. The only other options I had were to wear a brace for a few years and then have the surgery, or to basically wear a brace for the rest of my life. As I was already tall and still growing, I think they were concerned that it would get worse quite quickly.

How did you find recovery and are you happy with the results of your treatment?

That is a very difficult question to answer, as the recovery process was quite a long one. I had to wear the brace for 6 months after the surgery, 23 hours a day. During this time I couldn’t do any sports or exercise except for walking, and it was probably another 6 months to a year after taking the brace off until I was back to full strength. I found it was more about pacing myself and learning my new limitations, both throughout a day so as not to exhaust myself and through the 6 months.

For me, the worst part of my recovery was the first 8 days after my surgery when I was in hospital. Not only did I have to adjust to walking and sitting in a new position due to the new alignment of my spine, but the two worst parts of the entire procedure and recovery in my opinion were here: removing the chest drain, and adjusting to the back brace. The chest drain was inserted to remove the fluid from my left lung, as it was deflated and then re-inflated during the surgery and was there for maybe the first three days I was in hospital.

It was very uncomfortable being removed, but it was over quickly! The back brace, however, took a little more adjusting to – I found the first couple of nights I was wearing it actually quite painful and I couldn’t find a position that was comfortable, but once I was home, I got used to it fairly rapidly and after about 10 days, it had become like a second skin. The staff at Stanmore were absolutely amazing and I cannot thank them enough.

About 6 weeks after my operation, I started part-time attendance at school, gradually working my way up to full-time over 2 months. My school were absolutely fantastic and so supportive during my recovery, allowing me to leave lessons a few minutes early to avoid the crowded corridors, providing me with somewhere to lie down if needed, and giving me full permission to steal the teacher’s ‘comfy’ chair (very satisfying!) in each lesson as they were higher than the standard classroom chairs, which I needed to maintain a 90 degree angle at the hip when I sat down.

I also still can’t believe how accepting and thoughtful my classmates were at the time – I was never short of volunteers to carry my bag, and I remember feeling disappointed that I had missed the class Secret Santa draw, before getting a whole bag of presents that everyone had contributed to on the last day of term!

I don’t want to underplay it, because it was a difficult time that took a lot of strength, determination and codeine, however I am super happy with the results of my treatment – it was definitely the right decision to have the operation at that time, and anything negative in the procedure or recovery process is completely outweighed by the positives of the outcome.

How does scoliosis affect your life now, post surgery?

Scoliosis doesn’t impact my daily life.

I rarely have to think about my surgery, and only have to take a few precautions: my restrictions are that I can’t lift more than 10kg, and I can’t trampoline, ski, bungee jump or sky dive – the last two aren’t exactly at the top of my list!

I have found that my hip flexibility has been slightly reduced, meaning I have to find some ‘alternative’ dance moves which always causes amusement amongst friends, but it doesn’t stop me from doing anything I want (exhibit A : the walk)! It doesn’t bother me, as I know it would be much more reduced had I not had the surgery. The only thing that I find irritating is that one of my feet is warmer than the other as a result of severed nerves, so my right shoe always wears away faster inside. Particularly annoying on flip flops!

Although I was upset about them to begin with, I am now incredibly proud of my scars. I started off trying to cover them up and felt quite self-conscious about them, but got to a point a few years ago where I didn’t care anymore and started wearing bikinis or shorter tops that showed them off. They have become a part of my body that I don’t want to get rid of or change, and some of the reason I want to raise awareness of the condition is that I want people living with Scoliosis to have confidence in their appearance too.

Tell me a bit about the Back the Back Walk, how did you come up with the idea and what motivated you to organise the event?

I love being outdoors, and I was planning on doing a long walk in my break between school and university this year. I was thinking of doing it for charity and being sponsored, but wasn’t really sure who to do it in aid of, or where to go. The event kind of started as a joke, as I was looking at National Trails in England and Scotland and remembered that the Pennines were often referred to as the ‘Backbone of Britain’, and thought I could walk for a Scoliosis Charity (can’t resist a pun!). It was only after I mentioned it to a few people and got a really positive response about the idea that I decided to go for it! Only one of the longest (268 miles) and most challenging of the National Trails!!

I set up Back the Back Walk for several reasons. On a personal level, it is a way of me thanking all the people who helped me, both in and out of hospital, on my road to recovery. There is, however, a much bigger purpose for the walk: this is a chance to help others going through treatment, not only by raising funds for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Charity and Scoliosis Campaign Fund (Scoliosis Association UK and British Scoliosis Research Foundation combined), but hopefully by inspiring them – I am proof that the surgery works and that Scoliosis doesn’t have to have an impact on your life. The main goal for the walk, however, is to raise awareness of Scoliosis, and to get people talking about it.

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

Initially, I was looking forward to the walk itself, but having spoken to people like you who want to get involved or support the event, I can’t wait to meet everyone along the route!! I cannot believe how much of a positive response I have had, both online and in person – thank you so much to everyone who has sponsored or signed up, and for everyone who has contacted me to show their support!

Also, a huge thank you to Diggle House Farm, Hebden Bridge Hostel, The Tan Hill Inn, The Cheviot Hotel, Clennell Hall Country House, The Teesdale Hotel and St Marylebone Parish Church for their support of the event!

Have you taken part in any other challenging events like this since your surgery? If so, what were they?

I have completed both my Bronze and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, but have never attempted anything on this scale before! I think my most impressive achievement however, although not changeling in the same way, was probably winning the 100m A team race at school just 8 months after my operation.

Tell me a bit about how you have been / will be training and preparing for this event?

Walking; lots of it! As well as going for long walks both with and without bags on my days off, I have been trying to fit as much additional walking in to my daily life as possible. I even stopped insuring myself on the car so I would have to walk to work or the town centre near me! I have also been doing a fair amount of yoga and other core strengthening exercises as I will be carrying a relatively heavy bag.

Finally, how can others get involved, sponsor you or follow your progress?

The best thing to do if you want to get involved in any way is to head over the website www.backthebackwalk.org – all the information you will need is there!

The walk, beginning on International Scoliosis Awareness Day 30th June, is open for anyone to join. Whether it is for an hour, a day, a week or the entire 19 days, everyone is welcome! If, however, you can’t make the walk for whatever reason, there is also going to be a launch concert at 6pm on Saturday 22nd June in St Marylebone Parish Church, London (tickets available on above website). To keep up with the event, go and give the Back the Back Walk Facebook Page a like!

If anyone has any further questions, please feel free to drop me an email on backtheback.info@gmail.org.


I’ll be taking part in the Back the Back Walk on Scoliosis Awareness Day and I can’t wait! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my blog and Instagram page.

Top 10 Inspiring Scoliosis Instagram Accounts to follow

Inspiring Scoliosis Instagram Accounts: My Top 10

Inspired by my own Instagram obsession, I thought I’d list my top Scoliosis Instagram Accounts to follow. 

I must admit, I am a little addicted to Instagram at the moment! Apart from Pinterest, Instagram is the main social platform that I use to try and raise awareness of this blog and scoliosis in general (shameless plug – you can follow me on Instagram here!)

The thing about Instagram is, it can be incredibly inspiring IF you follow the right accounts. I made it my mission late last year to unfollow any account that doesn’t inspire me, motivate me, or make me feel good about myself. 

I find Instagram is a great platform if you have a certain interest/niche – I love it as it’s great for connecting with other runners and those with scoliosis. I feel like over time I have built up a little community of friendship and support on there which is lovely and can be very motivating!

Below are 10 scoliosis related Instagram accounts that I enjoy following and am inspired by (in no particular order).

I’m sure I have missed some so please feel free to share any accounts that you are inspired by in the comments below 🙂


Inspiring Scoliosis Instagram Accounts to follow: My Top 10

1. Eva Butterly @evabutterly

Inspiring Scoliosis Instagram Accounts to follow - Eva Butterly

Eva is a PT and Online Coach for Scoliosis. She has created a range of podcasts discussing scoliosis and offering practical tips and advice for those of us with the condition. On her Instagram she shares strengthening exercises and inspirational images of her scoliosis. I personally find Eva incredibly inspirational to follow!

Check out her scoliosis podcasts here.


2. Mabel and the Scoliosis Runner @mabel_and_the_scoliosis_runner

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Mabel and the Scoliosis Runner

James is a runner who has not let his scoliosis stop him. I find him inspiring to follow due to my own interest in running and it just proves that even with scoliosis, you can run marathons! (My ultimate goal one day!) James has ran in the London Marathon which is my dream, and on his Instagram he shares his training and race achievements.


3. Hayley Wakefield @hayleyelysefit

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Hayley

I have only recently come across Hayley’s Instagram account but I find it incredibly inspiring! Hayley is a PT who has scoliosis and shares strengthening exercises and videos on her Instagram, she also has a scoliosis e-book.

I really want to work on my upper body strength to help with my scoliosis and my running. Sometimes I don’t know where to start though, especially with having scoliosis, so I love coming across accounts like this – it really motivates me to get going!


4. Curvy Girls Scoliosis @cgscoliosis

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - CG Scoliosis

Curvy Girls Scoliosis is a peer run international scoliosis support group ran by young girls and aimed at young girls, covering 19 countries. 

Visit the Curvy Girls Scoliosis website for more details. 


5. Paige Fraser @lovingthispaige

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Paige Fraser

Paige is a model, professional dancer and choreographer who does not let her scoliosis hold her back. Check out an interview with Paige on the Beyond Scoliosis website – very inspiring!


6. Martha Hunt @marthahunt

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Martha Hunt

Martha Hunt is an American model, she has scoliosis and is proud to represent those affected by the condition. She uses her Instagram to raise awareness of scoliosis by proudly showing off her back and beautiful scoliosis scar to her 3M followers. 


7. Shano Nebel Rasmussen – @fuck_scoliosis

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow

Shano has severe scoliosis but does not let this stop him from bodybuilding. He shares bodybuilding and work out videos and photos on his Instagram and his posts are very positive and motivational.


8. Bent not Broken-  @Bent.not.broken7

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Bent not Broken

Bent not Broken is an Instagram account run by Rosie, who has had scoliosis surgery herself. It is a very inspiring account, dedicated to raising awareness of scoliosis.

On her Instagram page, Rosie shares beautiful and inspiring scoliosis stories, as well as some amazing back and scar photographs.


9. Scoliyogagirl – @scoliyogagirl

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Scoliyogagirl

Based in Prague, Czech Republic, Veronika shares back care and yoga tips for scoliosis on her Instagram, as well as raising scoliosis awareness.

Yoga is something that I have recently taken up and it’s so good for those of us with scoliosis – I really need to make an effort to do it more often!


10. Anna Martin @annamartinfitness

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to follow - Anna Martin Fitness

Anna is a PT and fitness entrepreneur sharing her top fitness tips for training with scoliosis regularly on her Instagram. I love her page and find it very motivational, as sometimes I struggle to know where to start/what exercises to do when it comes to weights and strength based training. 

 


Are there any I’ve missed?

Share your own favourite inspirational scoliosis Instagram accounts in the comments below 🙂

Pin it!

Top 10 Inspiring Scoliosis Instagram Accounts to follow

Photo by Tofros.com from Pexels

Back the Back Walk

Scoliosis Awareness Day 2019: Back the Back Walk

This Scoliosis Awareness Day (June 30th, 2019) I’m very excited to be taking part in the Back the Back Walk. This is an event organised by Freya, who also has scoliosis, to raise awareness of scoliosis, as well as some much needed funds for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Charity and Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The RNOH Charity raises money to help the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore provide world-class care for patients with musculoskeletal conditions, and to support the hospital’s pioneering work in orthopaedic research and education.  This is where Freya had her surgery.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund is a joint fundraising venture between the British Scoliosis Research Foundation (BSRF), who fund research into the causes and treatment  of Scoliosis, and the Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK), a patient support charity.

 


What is the Back the Back Walk?

This summer, starting on scoliosis awareness day, Freya will be walking the entire 268 miles of the Pennine Way, known as the “Backbone of Britain,” to raise awareness of scoliosis.  The event will last 19 days and begins in Edale, Derbyshire.

As soon as I saw this event, I knew I wanted to be involved. I think it is such a FAB idea and combines two of my favourite things – hiking and raising awareness of scoliosis! I did a 10 day charity trek on the Great Wall of China in 2017 to do just that, and ever since I have been itching to get involved in something else!

Due to work and other commitments, unfortunately I cannot take part in the entire trek (I really wish I could!!!) BUT I will be there on Scoliosis Awareness Day for the first part and I can’t wait!

If you’d like to donate, get involved yourself or find out more – visit the Back the Back walk website. You can also follow the project on Facebook. 🙂

I’ll be doing lots of hikes in preparation, I love hiking and walking up in the Peak District and try to do a walk most weekends if I can fit it in.

Thanks for reading and if you’d like to get involved please contact Freya via her website or Facebook page

See you there 🙂

Louise X

April Link Up Chronic Voice

April Link Up with A Chronic Voice!

I’m sorry for the lack of posts recently, it’s been a manic year already for me, full of ups and downs. I’ve had a rough couple of months in my personal life, but I have still managed to complete my THIRD half marathon and get a personal best! I have also climbed 2 mountains this year already (Helvellyn in the Lake District and Kinder Scout in the Peaks) and I am now on nearly 50 Park Runs. I have also done two 10K races and got a personal best on Sunday just gone (55.30).

I’m now in half marathon training mode and my FOURTH one (??!) is at the end of May, so watch this space. For now though, I’ve decided to get my current feelings down by taking part in a link up with A Chronic Voice – this is basically a monthly get together for anyone with a chronic illness. So, here it goes…


TIRING

The last 6 months have been tiring for me to be honest and a few weeks ago, it got to the point where if things continued, I swear I would have had a mental breakdown, no exaggeration. I have a crazy busy life, I’m always on the go. Like most people, I work full time in quite a stressful job and then I also fit in my running, gym work, seeing friends/family etc around it and sometimes it can get overwhelming. I’ve also been suffering with nerve issues/numbness in my leg which is being investigated but at the moment the Drs don’t know what is the cause, after countless tests. It could be related to my scoliosis and surgery, but the MRI scans I have had are clear and I feel like nobody is taking it seriously.

It worries me because I am so active, what if it gets worse and I cannot run again? Or even walk? So this has been tiring me out, more the not knowing. In my personal life, I have just got out of an unhealthy relationship which was tiring me out as it was constant fighting, which was quite frankly, exhausting and stressful towards the end. It was also taking up a lot of my time and energy, giving me no time to focus on myself and my own goals (including this blog, which I have neglected recently).

Prior to this, I was in a relationship for 13 years and I feel like as a result, I haven’t really had time to myself before, or really know who I am or what I want. So, now I am on my own again (sigh) but I feel like I can breathe and finally focus on myself and what I want. This may be selfish but so be it. I have spent my entire life thinking of others and sometimes you have to do what is best for yourself and your own emotional well being. Hopefully soon, I will start to feel less tired and maybe even find myself again.


EDUCATING

I try whenever I can to educate people about my condition – scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Most people have either never heard of it, or they think it’s ‘just’ a back condition. The reality is that scoliosis affects the whole body as it throws your body out of alignment. This can cause all sorts of issues – breathing problems as the rib cage is often twisted (in severe cases like mine), numbness, headaches, issues with walking and leg length in some cases, pain, discomfort, muscle spasms – the list goes on. I always love it when people message me saying that I inspire them or that they too know someone with scoliosis. I’m a member of a run club and I was surprised to discover at least 3 people with the condition who are also in the run club AND good runners no doubt!

I try to raise awareness through my blog and social media and this year I hope to continue to do so, I would also love to take part in another large fundraising event for scoliosis (I did a trek on the Great Wall of China in 2017), so watch this space!


RECEIVING

Linked to the above, I love receiving positive emails and messages from people on my Instagram and blog. It spurs me on to keep going when I am having low days with my back pain, leg issues or just feeling low in general. If I can inspire just one person, then it’s all worth it. 🙂


GIVING

Related to the tiring section, I feel like I have been giving myself to others all my life, and now it’s time for me to give some time to myself. I feel like I don’t even know myself and what I want, so how can I even be with anyone else? For the past few weeks I have been giving myself some time to heal, by making time to relax more (self care Sunday’s are my new thing). I have bought myself new bedding, a relaxing diffuser with some lavender oil, some nice candles and have also started taking more baths and doing yoga. I never usually make time for myself as I’m usually busy running round or pleasing others so it’s been quite nice to do this, and is very much needed at the moment.


QUIETING

Related to the above, with everything going on I’ve found it so hard to quieten my mind recently. I’m a massive over thinker anyway and I have struggled really badly over the last few weeks, overthinking everything that went wrong in my last relationship, was it me? Could it have been different? Is it all my fault? Have I made a mistake? I miss him, should I contact him? It’s strange because I know the relationship wasn’t healthy towards the end, and yet I still miss him and the good times we had, as we did have good times and a lot in common. 

I have also been overthinking about my leg and whether it is something bad. My head is all over the place at the moment and to be honest, it’s not in a good place. To try and quieten my thoughts I have bought an audio book on Mindfulness and I am going to try reading more, as I used to read a lot but it’s something that has fallen by the wayside a bit recently. I’m also considering counselling but I’d be worried about wasting someones time. 

Having some time to myself recently to think has been useful but sometimes thoughts and too much time alone can drive you insane 🙁


So anyway, that’s my life at the moment, how’s yours? 

Thank you for reading my ramblings – if you would like to submit your own entry – click here.

Louise X

 

 

February Overview: Goals completed…what’s next?

Apologies for the lack of posts, it’s been a crazy busy couple of months.

I’ve been working hard on my running and fitness though and trying to achieve all my 2019 goals!

So…what have I been up to?

Goal – Complete 50 Park Runs and Park Run Tourism

Hereford Park Run

Since January, I have completed 7 Park Runs and I’m now on 45 in total, so I’m very close to my 50 goal!

As another one of my goals was to do as many different Park Runs as possible in the UK and abroad (Park Run Tourism),  I have been trying to mix it up a bit and since January I have done 3 different Park Runs, including Worcester Park Run,  Hereford Park Run and the famous Bushy Park Park Run in London – I am hoping to do one abroad very soon.  

I’m also now working on completing the Park Run Alphabet Challenge, which is completing Park Runs for each letter of the alphabet (A-Z). This can be a fun way to keep it interesting, see new places and keep motivated 🙂

Goal: Improve my 5K speed and get sub 27 minutes

Park Run PB

I somehow managed to do this (just) at Worcester Park Run. I think as it was a “pancake flat” course, which helped. I got a time of 26.56, which I was so pleased with! My next goal is to try and get closer to 26 minutes, but I know this will take a lot of work!

Goal: Complete a Half Marathon in 2 hours or under

This is a goal that I’m still working on and that will take a lot of work to complete. In February, I did the Wrexham Half Marathon, and I didn’t manage to get under 2 hours BUT I did get a PB, of 2 hours and 2 minutes. I was pleased with this as I struggled quite a bit on the day so I didn’t expect a PB. It wasn’t exactly a flat course and to be honest, it was quite boring. It was basically just running down loads of country lanes, so there weren’t many spectators / much of an atmosphere which usually helps a lot.

I forgot how hard it is to run a half marathon as well! I struggled a lot after mile 7/8 as I had set off too fast at the start to try and keep up with my friend who I was running with. I can do the pace for sub 2 hour half marathon for about 7/8 miles and then I just burn out and my legs just feel like lead. It’s taken me weeks to recover and I’m only just starting to get back to normal in terms of being able to run again/feel like running. It’s crazy how much a half marathon takes it out of you.

I didn’t have much time to train for this one though and I think I need to give myself time to build up the miles at the pace I want to run at. I have booked another half marathon for the end of May (Liverpool Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon) and I’m going to give it another go, or at least aim for another PB. I have my training plan ready and will focus more on speed work and tempo running running at my target pace, which I didn’t do much of before. I’m going to post about my half marathon training next week and what I’ll be doing to try and get that sub 2 hour goal!  

Goal: Volunteering at Park Run

This is another goal I achieved in February, as it’s good to give something back given the fact that Park Run is run entirely by volunteers.

I can honestly say it was strange not to be running, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to do it again soon.

Goal: Start regular strength/interval training

Strength training is so important, especially if you have scoliosis, but even if you don’t, it’s important to strength train to prevent injury.

It can be hard to fit this in but I have started going to the gym and just doing weights/weight machines/body weight exercises. I also started cross fit in January but I have only been a few times.

Being stronger can make a massive difference to your running and can help you get faster and prevent injury.

I have also been doing an interval/circuit training type session once a week with the Run Club, in a bid to help me achieve my half marathon goal.

Goal – Sub 55 minute 10K (PB 55.40)

Shrewsbury 10K medal

This will be a tough one I think. I haven’t really been focussing on 10Ks as much as I did last year (last year I did one pretty much every month!) Although I’m ok with the distance as I usually run about 5-6 miles every week with my run club.

This year I have decided to focus more on half marathons and Park Runs. However, I did do the Shrewsbury 10K last weekend as a last minute decision.

Now, this was the first 10K race that I have done for a while (since November), and I am still struggling following the Wrexham Half Marathon. What I didn’t realise as well, was that the Shrewsbury 10K is incredibly tough and hilly, so not really a PB course!!

To be honest, I struggled A LOT because of the hills. I am not used to hills, I don’t like hills and these were pretty big (the course is described as “undulating”). So I think I need to incorporate hills into my training for sure. That being said I am very pleased with the time – I finished in just over 57 minutes, which for that course, and for me is really good. I think my PB is in reach if I go for a flat course next time J  

So that is just an overview of what I have been up to this year so far. I now plan on focusing on the half marathon training between now and May, with some Park Run tourism thrown in. I should get my 50 Park Runs soon too J

I also plan on working more on this blog and developing more regular content, so keep an eye out for that and hopefully completing another big challenge to raise money for scoliosis.

Hope your year is going well so far and you are achieving all your goals 🙂

Louise X

goals 2019

Happy New Year – Goals for 2019 :)

Firstly, a little late but I just wanted to wish my readers a very happy new year!

This time of year is always a difficult one for many, including myself. I tend to reflect a lot around this time and also worry about what is ahead.

2018 was a difficult year for me in many respects but it was also a very positive one, it was definitely a year of growth.

I achieved so many amazing things I never thought would be possible. Following the breakup of a 13 year relationship at the end of 2018, I got my own flat and lived on my own, became independent and confident doing things on my own.

I put myself outside of my comfort zone and did lots of new things, I joined a run club and took part in over 10 running events, including two half marathons, 10K races, trail runs and a Tough Mudder.

I met lots of new people and made new connections with people who had the same interests and passions as me.

I travelled, with work and with friends to new places such as Holland, Marbella, Barcelona and Paris.

I visited some new places in the UK I had never been to before including Cornwall, Devon, South Wales and Somerset.

I tried some new Park Runs all over the UK, including Wrexham, Chester, Shrewsbury, Telford, Minehead, Congleton and Andover.

I achieved a new Park Run 5K PB – 27 minutes.

I achieved a new 10K PB – 55.40 minutes.

I improved my half marathon speed by 5 minutes in 7 months, achieving a PB of 2.03 minutes.

I climbed several mountains including Tryfan in Wales and Helvellyn in the Lake District. I also walked a section of the South West Coast path in Cornwall.

I became a more confident, outgoing person more able to put myself forward for things that would have once scared me.

It’s so easy to be negative and focus on the things you didn’t achieve or haven’t done, and yes I am so guilty of that.

But now I’ve written it all down I think, wow I did ALOT in 2018 and I’m so proud of myself.

So what are my goals for 2019?

This is simple. To keep going. To be happy.

I love running it really saved me in 2018 and so I want to do more of it. Most of my goals for 2019 are around running and include..

  • Complete 50 park runs! I’m now on 40 so this should be achievable. This is actually carried over from last year as I didn’t manage to achieve 50 last year but came close!
  • Improve my 5k speed. I’m currently completing 5k at around 27-28 minutes. My PB is 27 minutes so I would love to get sub 27 this year.
  • To achieve this, I plan to start interval/hill training regularly
  • Complete a half marathon in 2 hours or under
  • I want to carry on doing different Park Runs all over the UK and would love to do one abroad
  • Complete 1000km in 2019
  • I want to do a running event / race abroad
  • Achieche a sub 55 minute 10K. My PB is 55:40.
  • I also plan to start more regular strength training (at least twice a week) and would like to try regular climbing too for upper body strength
  • I want to focus on nutrition and the best foods to eat to help improve my fitness and performance.
  • I would love to do another challenge of some kind, hiking /climbing related
  • Travel as much as possible

So there you have it, these are my goals for 2019. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below.

Gifts for those with back pain

10 Gift Ideas for those with Chronic Back Pain

As Christmas is approaching, I thought I’d put together a quick post with some gift ideas if you are buying for somebody who suffers with scoliosis or any kind of chronic back pain.

These are just a few things that have helped me over the years and may make a thoughtful gift if you are struggling with what to get. Of course, the usual treats like chocolate and perfume also work well 🙂


10 Gift Ideas for Chronic Back Pain

 

1. A memory foam mattress / mattress topper

My memory foam mattress (and topper, yes I have both!) is one of the best things I have invested in for my back. Memory foam mattresses can be expensive, but you can pick up a memory foam topper fairly cheaply these days from Amazon, or on the high street in places like Wilkinsons, Ikea or any home store.

A memory foam topper can really improve comfort and help back pain over time – I know I really notice a difference when I sleep in beds without one.


2. Posture Clothing

Gift Idea for those with chronic back pain - Active Posture Shirt

Posture Clothing such as the Active Posture shirt, activates muscle memory to help you achieve an improved, upright posture. Active Posture has a wide range of posture shirts and bras for women that suffer from pain and tension in their back, neck or shoulders. Posture clothing can really help with improving back pain, and therefore makes a thoughtful gift for anyone with back troubles.

Check out my review of the Active Posture shirt or visit the Active Posture website for gift ideas. Plus, if you use my discount code louise10 you will get an extra 10% off. 🙂


3. Massage products

Massage products such as massage balls and massage chairs can really help alleviate and provide some relief for back pain, as well as making a fun gift.

I really like the look of this Accupressure mat and pillow set and may try one of these for myself actually!


4. Hot water bottle / heat pads /heated products

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, my hot water bottle is my best friend! I find heat really helps when I have a bad pain day, as most pain I get is muscular and it feels so good.

There are loads of novelty heat products around this time of year, such as heated pads, heated stuffed animals and novelty hot water bottles.

I like the look of this heated neck and shoulder wrap, it sounds like bliss.


 

5. Membership to a Yoga or Pilates class

Yoga and/or Pilates can be fantastic if you suffer with chronic back pain, so a gift relating to Yoga or Pilates would be great and is something that could really help longer term.

Ideas can include, membership to a yoga/Pilates class, or even a yoga mat, fitness ball or yoga dvd/books.


6. Pain Relief (TENS machine)

Depending on the severity of the pain, a TENS machine may help. I haven’t tried one of these myself, but I know people with back pain who have.


7. Memory foam cushion / cushions

I absolutely love cushions, my flat is surrounded by them and I always have at least two behind me when I’m sat on the sofa, in the car or anywhere really! As I can’t slouch due to my spinal fusion, I find it is more comfortable to sit with a cushion behind me. There are loads of cute cushions about, but I would thoroughly recommend a memory foam cushion which you can take around with you.


8. Spa day / leisure centre vouchers

Sometimes it’s just nice to be pampered, whether you suffer with back pain or not. I love visiting the spa and sitting in a Jacuzzi or heated pool. Jacuzzi bubbles feel like bliss on my back. A spa day voucher can be a really nice and thoughtful gift idea.


9. Memory Foam Skechers

I have some memory foam Skechers and I literally wear them all the time. I have noticed a huge difference in my lower back pain when I wear them. They really help to take the pressure off, especially if I’m walking round all day.


10. Bath Spa

I would love one of these! And if I had one, I probably wouldn’t leave the bath… I haven’t tried it out myself but a bath spa will turn your bath into a jacuzzi which will help to ease sore and painful muscles. I think this would be a fab gift for someone with back pain as I absolutely LOVE spending time in the jacuzzi when I visit a spa, as it just feels so good on my back.

I also think products which help to ease comfort when sat in the bath would be good too, like a bath pillow. As I personally find sitting in the bath for long quite painful and uncomfortable since my fusion.


So there are a few ideas based on the things that have helped me over the years or things I would like to try.

Of course everyone is different and some of these things won’t suit everyone, as it depends on pain levels and how active people are.

I would love to know if anyone has any other gift ideas that may help those with back pain? Obviously wine and chocolate is a given 😀

Let me know your ideas in the comments below 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Louise X


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10 Gift Ideas for those with Chronic Back Pain

Active Posture Shirt Review

Active Posture: Review

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post but I was gifted the Active Posture 2.0 shirt to try. All thoughts and opinions are my own and this review has not been influenced by the company.


Active Posture Clothing: Review

I was recently contacted by a company called Active Posture – they had read my blog and thought that myself and my readers might benefit from trying their Active Posture 2.0 shirt. Personally, I had never heard of posture clothing but according to their website, posture clothing activates muscle memory, which can help to achieve an improved, upright posture over time.

Initially, I was a little dubious of this for my own personal situation. Because I have had scoliosis surgery, my posture is already “straight”, as in I can’t really slouch, so I was curious as to how this product would benefit me.

However, as I read on I became intrigued. Apparently, the Active Posture shirt has been scientifically proven to reduce pain, improve spinal alignment, increase core activation, and reduce wear and tear on the body. Their website says it activates and stimulates inhibited muscles and decreases tension in over strained muscles, which sounds perfect for those of us with scoliosis.

So I decided to give it a try. As I do a lot of running, I thought it might help support my back as the website says the shirt can be good for helping with posture and minimising risk of injury when training.


First Impressions

The shirt I tried was the Active Posture Shirt 2.0 in blue.

When the shirt arrived I thought it looked really smart. The packaging was really nice and the shirt itself looked and felt like it was very good quality.

Active Posture Shirt
Active Posture Shirt

It’s made from nylon, spandex and polyester and moisture wicking (this means that it draws moisture away from the body), which means it’s perfect to wear when working out.

 


How does it work?

The Posture Shirt features a unique patented NeuroBand technology – this activates and stimulates muscles in the back and shoulder, which can help in improving posture. The Posture Shirt is approved as a medical device in CE class 93/42/EEC as well as by the FDA, guaranteeing that this product is effective, tested and safe to use.


What did I think?

So far, I have worn the shirt when running, during a few exercise classes and when sitting down at home.

When you first put it on, it feels very tight – so it takes a bit of getting used to. However, apparently it needs to be tight for it to work. It’s very important to choose the correct size, and they have a size guide on their website to ensure this.

A positive though was that it really did feel like the shirt supported my lower back when I was running. I do get quite a lot of lower back pain from my scoliosis, and the shirt felt a bit like when I wore my brace after surgery, in the sense that it gave me some good support and it did reduce my pain fairly instantly.

Active Posture Shirt - Back
Active Posture Shirt – Back

To get the full effects, you are supposed to wear the shirt every day which I admit I haven’t done. I have been wearing it sporadically so far but when I have worn it, my lower back definitely feels more supported.

According to the website, the shirts should be worn for 30-60 minutes every day or every other day during the first week.  As your posture gradually changes and your muscles start to respond, you can slowly increase the duration.

I’m going to have a go with wearing it when sitting down at home and also at work (as I sit at a desk all day) to see if it helps and I will write a follow up post with how I get on with this. I really do think if you wear it regularly, if you suffer with scoliosis or any type of back or shoulder pain, that it could benefit in supporting your back and reducing pain as I have noticed results fairly instantly when I have put it on.


Would I recommend the Active Posture shirt?

It’s early days for me and I’d like to use it more regularly but the early signs are positive. I’m going to continue to wear it at home, at work and when working out and I’m very interested in what results this will bring. Apparently, the most noticeable changes will be achieved after it has been worn over a period of approximately 60 to 90 days. I’d never heard of anything like this before but I guess for someone like me, with scoliosis who runs and works out a lot, a product like this is perfect.

If you are interested in giving it a try yourself, they have a 30 days return policy, so you could try it risk free, and if you don’t notice a difference you can send it back and get your money back.

I also have voucher code, if you use louise10 you will get 10% off.

For more information on the product and how it works visit the Active Posture FAQ page. 

Have you ever tried anything like this before? If so what were your experiences? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Disclaimer: Please note if you have severe disabilities, injuries or have recently had surgery, I would recommend checking with your Dr or specialist before using the Active Posture clothing. Also Active Posture recommend children and adolescents under the age of 16 refrain from using posture clothing without consulting their physician or physiotherapist. 

1 year later

1 year later

I apologise for the lack of scoliosis related blog post, but I’m feeling inspired so I wanted to write it all down. This weekend, it marks exactly that I took part in the amazing trek along the Great Wall of China, which I did to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

This was a life changing experience and one I will never forget. But it’s what happened when I got back from that trip that I’ve spent the last 12 months getting over. When I got back from my trek, a year ago this weekend, my partner of 13 years told me he wasn’t happy, he didn’t love me anymore and didn’t want to be in our relationship anymore.

Looking back, for the last couple of years of that relationship, I wasn’t exactly “happy.” I mean,  we didn’t really argue or anything like that, but he was very distant and he never wanted to do anything together. We lived together but we led very separate lives. As I didn’t know any different, at the time I thought that was normal, but obviously it wasn’t. This led to me doing my own thing, I started doing more running, spending more time at the gym and doing more things with my friends. I started travelling more with friends and by myself (hence the China trip) as he just wasn’t interested. If I did suggest a holiday, or doing anything together really, it felt like it was a chore for him. So I guess I was pretty much living like I was single, while being in that relationship.

But despite all this, I still loved and cared for him and at the time, it was a huge shock that he felt that way. After 13 years with someone, it’s so hard to imagine life without them and I remember begging him to change his mind.

The year that followed has been a tough one, full of ups and downs. For the first time, I was on my own and I had to deal with that. Even though we had drifted apart towards the end, I was still used to always having someone there. For example, it was the little things where I missed him like going food shopping, cooking, etc. I hadn’t really done those things on my own for a long time, probably since I was at University 10 years ago. Suddenly I felt very empty and lonely. I couldn’t bring myself to cook a meal, as it made me feel so sad cooking for myself. I didn’t like going food shopping, as just walking round the supermarket by myself made me feel depressed and lonely, as we always used to go together.

The first few months were made harder due to the fact that I was still living in the flat we shared, by myself, until I could find another place to move to. So I had constant reminders of him and our relationship everywhere. I won’t lie, I had a difficult 3 months or so after it happened. I didn’t eat properly or look after myself and I drank quite a lot.

It was weird as I knew deep down it was for the best and part of me was happy, as I hadn’t been happy for a long time, but then another part of me felt so sad that someone that had been in my life for so long was suddenly gone.  I also had to deal with how to be alone for the first time since I was a teenager.

Fast forward to a year later and I honestly cannot believe how far I have come, or how much has changed in my life, for the better.

I have my own flat now and have been living here for almost 12 months in December. When I first moved in I found it exciting but quite hard. I used to hate being alone in my flat, especially in the evenings and at weekends.

For the first half of this year, I crammed my weekends with stuff so that I wouldn’t really have time to mope about and feel sorry for myself. I reconnected with friends that I didn’t see that often when I was in my relationship and we did lots of fun things, nights out, weekends away etc.

I will be forever grateful for my friends during this time as they really did save my life. Another thing I did which I’m really proud of, is that I joined a running club. This is probably the best thing I did this year and through it I have met so many amazing people and made some good friends. I used to run a lot on my own, but now I have lots of people I can message when I fancy a run. It also means that I don’t need to go to running events on my own anymore because whatever running event I take part in, there will always be somebody else at the run club taking part as well that I can meet up with or get a lift with.

That’s another thing I found so hard when I was suddenly on my own – getting lifts and things like that. He would pretty much always take me to and pick me up from places which meant I lost my confidence big time when it came to driving myself around. This past year, I have had to drive myself places as I’ve had no choice, so now I’m much more confident and happy driving myself around than I was a year ago.  I’m also perfectly happy and confident going shopping on my own, and cooking for myself and I think these small things are actually big milestones.

I know this is a random post but it’s been a year now I was sat here, alone in my flat last night, and you know what. I actually felt happy. It struck me that I was happy being on my own, in my own flat, doing my thing. I don’t feel lonely or sorry for myself anymore, I’m not trying to fill a void with the things I’m doing. It’s taken me a year to feel like this but I’m so grateful and very proud of myself for getting to this point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not alone, alone. I have some amazing friends and family and I have recently started seeing somebody new. But the point is, one year on, I am much more confident in myself and whilst I love spending time with the people I love, I’m also perfectly happy in my own company and doing things by myself.

It sounds cheesy but I feel like this year I really have “found myself” again, as I think it’s easy and quite common to lose who you are when you are in an unhappy, long term relationship. The new relationships I have formed this year, are all with people who are similar to me, with similar interests and outlooks on life, people who actually want to live their life and go out and do things.

They say you should surround yourself with those on the same mission as you and that, for me, is so important for my happiness and why I feel this year has been so great overall. I feel like I have finally got the right people around me and I have done more this year than I did in the last few years of my previous relationship. This includes lots of 10K running events, two half marathons and a Tough Mudder.

12 months on, I finally feel alive again.