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Self Care Tips for Scoliosis

5 Self Care Tips for those with Scoliosis

5 Self Care Tips for Scoliosis


Over the past year, I have been living life on full speed, and as a result, have recently made myself pretty ill and run down. This has been very frustrating for me, as I’ve not been able to run or do the things I enjoy for a while. But this forced rest has made me realise something. That although I have been trying to focus on myself over the last 8 months or so and trying to fit in time for self-care, I actually haven’t been looking after myself in many ways.

I’ve been trying to keep up with people in my run club, see all my friends, work full time and meet my goals and in the process, I’ve completely neglected my health. Busy schedules, lack of sleep, not eating properly, 4 half marathons, long training runs, too much alcohol and trying to do everything all the time for everyone has resulted in a complete burn-out and an illness that has lasted far longer than it should have done. It’s made me realise that I need to make some changes to my life. I can’t do everything all the time and I need to make the time and space in my schedule sometimes to rest and recover.

These self care tips can be for anyone, not just for those with scoliosis but I feel that these are some things that I need to start doing to ensure I don’t let myself get this run down again. 


1. Try not to compare yourself or compete with others

Self Care Tips Scoliosis Don't Compare to others

This is a big one and I’m very guilty of this. I will use the example of my running. Before I got ill, I was pushing myself. I did the Great North Run in September, which I trained hard for and as a result I felt strong in this race, I did well and got a good time. Shortly after this race, I got ill with a virus, but continued to train for my next half marathon in October even though I wasn’t well. I went on 10 mile training runs and really struggled. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the others, I had zero energy and felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. But I didn’t stop and even though I wasn’t feeling great, I completed the Manchester Half (in the rain), despite the fact that I felt like I was going to faint half way round and really had to slow down. After this race, I continued to train for my next half marathon which was the Conway Half, but again, I was struggling badly to run at a pace I was normally fine with. I felt rubbish, like I was unfit and failing.

It was shortly after this, that one weekend I got really ill and then, couldn’t run at all. I skipped all my training that weekend, then went to the Dr and was given an inhaler and antibiotics for a chest infection. Writing this down now, I know I was stupid to run the Manchester Half Marathon that day, but I didn’t want to miss out. As a result I felt crap and made myself feel 10 times worse. I was trying to keep up with everyone else, while neglecting my own health in the process.

Another thing is that this year I got caught up in trying to get faster and keep up with the faster runners in my run club. If I did a race and didn’t get a time I was happy with, I would feel a failure. I’ve been reflecting on this while I’ve not been able to run and thinking, I would do anything just to be able to run now, I don’t even care how fast. I think I got so caught up in it all, and trying to keep up with others, that I forgot how amazing it is just to be able to run a half marathon, never mind the speed.

From now on, I’m just going to try and focus on myself and what I’m doing and try not to worry about everyone else. I shouldn’t compare myself to others because (even though this is not an excuse!) running in general is more difficult for me. I do have a reduced lung capacity, muscle imbalances and leg numbness, which I’m sure will affect my ability compared to those without scoliosis. I tend to forget that sometimes.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this long winded way is, depending on the severity, having scoliosis can give you certain limitations that you should be aware of when comparing yourself to others (and not be so hard on yourself, anything and everything you do and achieve is amazing!)


2. Look after your physical health

Self Care Scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, keeping active is important and it doesn’t have to be strenuous. It’s important to keep the back and core muscles strong to help with back pain and to protect the back from injury. Activities such as Yoga, Pilates, stretching and physiotherapy can all help with this (as well as helping with your emotional well-being too!)

REST is also just as important for physical health – and this is crucial for everyone, not just if you have scoliosis.

I’m usually of the opinion that there is no time for sleeping and I’d normally rather be doing a million other things than sleeping. However, I’m going to try and make a conscious effort to get enough sleep, cut down on alcohol and eat better going forwards. 


3. Look after your EMOTIONAL health

Self Care Tips Scoliosis

I’ve been really tying to focus on my emotional health recently by taking a bit of time out for therapeutic activities such as yoga, meditation or mindfulness.  There are many apps you can use for this, such as as Head Space for example. There are also some good meditation and yoga videos on YouTube so you can fit these around your day. 

Another thing that it is important (and something that I personally find very difficult) is learning to say no sometimes. If you are tired, in pain or don’t feel like doing something, don’t feel bad about saying no and taking some time out to yourself. 

Similarly reducing time on social media and not looking at your phone an hour or so before you go to sleep can also go a long way to helping to look after your emotional health and well-being. 


4. Practice self-care

Self Care Scoliosis

Related to the above, self-care is so important for mental well-being. Things I’ve tried more of this year including reading a self help book each month, listening to uplifting podcasts and having regular hot bubble baths. Relaxing in a hot bubble bath is perfect for those of us with scoliosis and back pain as it can help to ease tight muscles.  I also find that having a bit of me time where I can relax and read a book really helps. Prior to this year, I never used to do things like this and I would be too busy for a bath (I always had a shower) but since I’ve been living on my own I’ve made a real conscious effort to make time for me. I’ve started self care Sunday’s, where I try to have an hour in the bath with my music and some candles. 

Another thing which can be good for scoliosis (and a nice treat!) is to have a massage every now and again. Not only can this be relaxing, it can also ease to help tight muscles and relieve pain.


5. It’s good to talk

Self Care Scoliosis

This one will be different for everyone, but having scoliosis has certainly affected my self esteem and mental health over the years.

The psychological effects of scoliosis are so often overlooked and can be just as bad as the physical symptoms and pain. Talking and dealing with all the emotions is so important but when I was a teenager I tended to hide my condition and keep things bottled up. I’ve recently started counseling and I think to be honest, I should maybe have had some counseling years ago to help me deal with the diagnosis and surgery.

One thing I did do though when I was contemplating and researching surgery, was to join a scoliosis support forum and talk to others with scoliosis who were going through the same.

If you are feeling alone or need someone to talk to, then I would really recommend doing this. It helped me so much as I made some good friends and felt less alone after hearing others’ experiences. A good site for support is the Scoliosis Association.


A single 6 months: What I’ve learnt

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”

Back in June, I wrote a very personal post about how I was feeling following the end of a toxic relationship. As June is nearly 6 months ago now (and 8 months after said relationship ended), I’m feeling reflective again (not unusual for me!) So I wanted to write a bit of an update of how I’m feeling now, 6 months on, and also an update of what I’ve achieved and learnt during this time.

The past 8 months have been difficult for me at times, but also a huge period of self development and growth that I think I really needed. You see, before the toxic relationship, I was in a relationship for 13 years, which suddenly ended. I found myself lost and confused following the end of this, and at the time, I felt like a part of me (and my life) had died.

As reaction to the split, I pretty much jumped into another relationship with somebody who just wasn’t right for me. At the time, it was what I thought I needed. It was fun and a welcome distraction from dealing with my pain. In a way, it helped me to get over what I had been through. But in focusing all my energy on this I was neglecting myself and stopping myself from dealing with what I needed to deal with.  Over the coming months, this new relationship quickly turned unhealthy and toxic.

There were many factors involved, but looking back,  I realise that at the time I had no self esteem and  limited personal boundaries, which meant that I lowered my standards and accepted behaviour that I really shouldn’t have accepted. Why? Because I was lonely and wanted to feel wanted.  I thought that a relationship, any relationship, would make me happy. I thought that it would fix me. But in reality, all it did was make me feel worse, much worse than before. I quickly realised that this new relationship couldn’t fix me or make me happy, this had to come from me. I also realised that it was better to be alone, even though this was a scary option, than be in a relationship that was unhealthy and making me ill. 

A part of me also felt like I hadn’t given myself time to get over the sudden end of the previous relationship and I started to feel suffocated and trapped.  After the toxic relationship ended, I struggled for a while. I blamed myself for the failure of yet another relationship. I thought that there must be something wrong with me.

As a result of all this, in June I decided to dedicate the rest of this year to myself. I decided to purposely and intentionally stay away from dating and relationships. Partly because I didn’t want to end up feeling trapped in that horrible scenario again, but also because I felt like I needed time to recover, learn about myself and grow as a person. Deal with feelings and emotions that I had been perhaps avoiding.

I hadn’t been single prior to this since I was 18 and I think as a result, I needed to find out who I was again, without having to worry about someone else.

And, over the last 6 months, this is just what I have done. I’m actually really proud of myself. Because now, rather than feeling lonely and having the urge to fill a void by dating, I actually quite like my own company. I don’t feel sad, or sorry for myself. I feel quite content. I can do what I want, when I want, which is quite liberating. Yes, there are times when it can be hard, like I’ve been quite poorly recently, and being alone during illness and having to do everything yourself is not exactly fun but overall,  this time to myself has made me more independent and stronger as a person.


SELF CARE & GROWTH

Daisy to represent personal growth

I’ve spent the last 6 months working on myself. I have made more time for self care by taking up yoga and meditation, making time for a candle-lit bubble baths and taking up reading again, which I used to love but for some reason stopped after the stress of everything. I have also been having counselling, which in all honestly, I think I’ve needed for a long time. I’ve started to read self help books and listen to inspiring and uplifting podcasts. It’s the little things like this that can make a real difference to your mental health and well-being.

As a result, I can honestly say that I’m a different person than I was a couple of years ago. I’ve had a lot of time to think and I’ve realised that, in a way, the long term relationship held me back. I relied on him for a lot and I think as a result, I lost a part of myself and my independence. Being alone has forced me to do things by myself and I feel quite liberated as a result. I think nothing of doing simple things like the weekly shop, driving myself places or even travelling abroad alone, all things which would have terrified me back then and I just wouldn’t have done. 


RUNNING

Parkrun alphabet challenge Phoenix

In terms of my running, I have recently started the Parkrun alphabet challenge, which I am doing with a fab group of people from my run club. Over the last 6 months, I have thrown myself into running and have taken part in loads of social activities with my run club. As a result, I’ve made a good group of friends, which means I always have someone to run with or go with to races or different Parkruns, so I don’t need to rely on a partner to fill this need. Over the last 6 months, we have been to many different Parkruns, including Northwich, Alderford Lake (Whitchurch), Phoneix (Runcorn), Glossop, The Wammy (Newcastle Under Lyme) and Jersey! In the last 6 months, I also reached the milestone of 50 Parkruns, which was one of my goals for this year. 

I absolutely love running and my run club and it has helped me immensely with my mental health and building up a good network of inspiring and adventurous friends on the same wavelength. 

RUN CLUB group photo

I’ve also managed to do the Three Peak Challenge and 3 half marathons in the last 8 months – Liverpool Rock and Roll, The Great North Run and Manchester Half in October. It would have been 4 but unfortunately I’ve been quite ill since the beginning of October so had to pull out of the Conway Half which I had planned for November.

GOODGYM

Another thing I started in the last 6 months is GoodGym, which I absolutely love. Basically, you run to a task (usually about a mile), which is something that will help the community and it could range from litter picking, cleaning or sorting food and clothes for the homeless. Then you run back. I love it because it combines my love of running with helping people and the community. Plus, it’s another chance to meet some amazing people and continue to build my friends and support network.


TRAVEL

Parkrun Poland

My goal this year was to travel alone in order to build my confidence and independence. I’m so proud that I managed to achieve this goal this year. In September, I went to Poland, completely alone, for a weekend to do a Parkrun abroad in Gdansk (and also threw in a bit of sight-seeing!).

Not only that, but I forced myself to stay in a hostel and go on tours (including a bar crawl) by myself. This was a MASSIVE challenge for me and looking back sometimes I can’t believe I actually did it.  But they do say, the choices that scare you are the ones that help you to grow and that’s so true.

I won’t lie, this trip was quite difficult for me at times, especially with the language barrier and feeling alone in an unknown city.  You realise how vulnerable you are at certain points (such as eating alone in a restaurant) and being alone did restrict what I did – for example, I didn’t really like walking alone at night and so I would go back to the hostel early. In other respects though, it taught me quite a few things and I met some really nice people at the Parkrun and on the Bar Crawl.    

I’m also proud that I went alone to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (5 hours drive away) to take part in The Great North Run. As this is a huge event, I didn’t want to turn my ballot place down because I had nobody to go with. As it happens, the running community and Instagram is a friendly place, and I managed to meet up with one of my Instagram friends whilst I was there who was also doing the race. I went on a race day package trip and stayed at the Newcastle University with other people doing the race so met some nice people and overall had a good experience. Although I did miss my run club friends and it was a bit lonely at the finish line, I am proud of myself for going on my own, and I smashed it in 2.03! 🙂  

Great North Run


So these are just some of the things I managed to achieve in my 6 months of self focus. I have definitely learnt a lot about myself and actually, I think they have turned into some of the best months of my life.

This year, through my run club, I have met so many different people who are inspiring and fun to be around and who push me to do more. This has had a massive benefit on me and inspires me to keep pushing and trying new things.

I have become stronger, more independent and a long way from the vulnerable, naive girl that I was 2 years ago. It’s true what they say, you really do grow and learn from what you go through and if it wasn’t for all the hard times, I wouldn’t be where I am now. 

I’m now happy on my own, I don’t NEED a relationship and I’m not looking either. I’m self sufficient, I make my own money, have my own flat, have a good social life a network of friends to run with, travel with etc. I think I am now in a much better and healthier place should I WANT a relationship in the future and I’m proud of what it’s taken me to get to this stage.  

If  you enjoyed this post, be sure to Follow me over on Instagram to keep up with my antics. 🙂


Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey

Parkrun Alphabet Challenge: Jersey!

Earlier this year, myself and a few others from my run club decided to take part in the Parkrun alphabet challenge. This is basically a challenge to complete a Parkrun for every letter of the alphabet. I love this idea because not only do we get to try some new Parkruns, which keeps it fun and interesting, we also get to see a few new places in the process. We started by doing a few of the different local Parkruns, then I decided to branch out further and went abroad in September to tackle Gdansk Parkrun in Poland. Then, on a bit of a whim one day, we decided to book a weekend away to complete Parkrun over in Jersey, as this is one of the main Parkruns to visit for the elusive J.

What I really love about this whole thing though, is somehow, I have managed to find a group of people as mad as me that will think nothing of booking a weekend away to complete a Parkrun. In fact they really enjoy it. I love this as it makes me feel like I have finally found my people after all these years of doing stuff like this by myself or feeling like I’m weird!

Anyway, I wanted to write a bit about the trip because it was so much fun, and I hope to do more trips like this over the coming months and years.


FRIDAY: EN-ROUTE TO PARKRUN

We set off for Manchester airport on Friday morning, the flight was mid morning and we expected to arrive around lunchtime, as it was only a short flight (about an hour). I was really excited about the whole thing, as I had never been to Jersey before and I was curious to see what it was like. There were 5 of us travelling together and we were meeting 2 others at the airport, so we had a good gang of us representing our run club!

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey

After a very quick flight, we arrived in Jersey and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel, which was just outside St Helier (where the Parkrun was) in a small coastal town called St Aubin. My first impressions of Jersey was that it was very quiet but pretty. The taxi driver proceeded to tell us how he didn’t like living there because it was so small that everyone knew everyone’s business! It did give off that “local” vibe to it, like if you weren’t a local, people knew and stared at you.  It was a very pretty place though, with a cute harbour, picturesque houses and windy side streets. It reminded me a little of Cornwall, and some of the fishing villages there. 

Our hotel was located on a bit of a cliff side and had amazing views of the bay. I thought it would be a lovely place to come in the summer but as we were out of season, and the weather wasn’t great, it was very quiet. 

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey

We had a bit of a wander around that afternoon and ventured into St Helier, which was a few miles down the road. There wasn’t really that much to see and the weather was terrible (wind and torrential rain) so after a bit of sightseeing, we ended up in the pub for a while (hard life!) before eating out at an amazing fish restaurant and getting an early night ready for Parkrun!

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey


SATURDAY: JERSEY PARKRUN DAY!

On the Saturday, we had a big breakfast at the hotel before grabbing a taxi across to St Helier for Parkrun. It was a very windy day, and several other Parkruns had been cancelled, so I think we were lucky that it was actually on after travelling all that way! Due to the rain the night before parts of the course were also flooded, but that didn’t stop us, just made it slightly more challenging. 

Jersey Parkrun takes place at Les Quennevais Sports Centre. There were two laps around the sports centre, which was on a concrete path, as well as a few trailly bits. It was mostly flat apart from a gradual hill right before the finish which was a bit of a killer! Overall, I really enjoyed it. But it was the whole experience I enjoyed, seeing a new place and meeting new people. 

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey group shot

After Parkrun we went back to our hotel, showered and changed, checked out at 11am and then headed for lunch before getting our flight back in the afternoon. We were back home in time for the evening so it was a bit of a whistle stop tour and it did feel a bit surreal. I’d love to do more weekends though like this and try some different Parkruns in the process!

If  you enjoyed this post, be sure to Follow me over on Instagram to keep up with my antics. 🙂


N for Northwich Parkrun

Parkrun Alphabet Challenge: N = Northwich parkrun

One of my challenges this year is to start working my way through the Parkrun Alphabet challenge. For me, this is a fun way to try out some new Parkruns, whilst also seeing a bit more of the UK (and world!!)

There are quite a few different Parkruns locally to me (within say an hours drive) and so it seems sensible to tick these off the list first.

On Saturday, myself and one of my friends from my run club (who is also doing the challenge!) decided to try out Northwich Parkrun, so we could get our “N.”

I thought that going forwards, as part of this challenge I would write a short “review” of each of the Parkrun’s I complete. So, here goes… Northwich Parkrun!


Northwich Parkrun

Overall, I really enjoyed Northwich Parkrun.

Bearing in mind that I haven’t been to Parkrun in about 6 weeks (before yesterday) and so I was worried that I’d struggle. With this is mind I thought that I would just run at my own pace, and not push it. I want to enjoy running again and not be chasing a PB constantly, which is partly why I thought I’d start up this challenge.

Northwich Parkrun takes part in Carey Park and it’s about 40 mins drive from where I live so not too bad. There is a good car park with loads of spaces right by the start, which is always helpful, although it is £1 to park. There are also no toilets but you can use the ones in the Asda opposite.

The course starts on a narrow track so it takes a while to get going, as you can’t really overtake people.

Northwich parkrun 2

It was also quite muddy and slippy when we went as there had been heavy rain the day before. The course itself was good overall though as it was varied, with a mix of trail and concrete paths with views of the fields and cows. It also goes through a forest at one point (which is again quite a narrow path).

I wouldn’t say it was a PB course due to the parts where you can’t really get past people (and the terrain being mixed/slippy). There were also a couple of hilly bits so it wasn’t flat! 😀

Overall though, I enjoyed the variety and would probably do this one again. Even though we got soaked at the end walking back to the car when it tipped it down!!


Northwich Parkrun - Carey Park

Park Run Alphabet Challenge

Parkrun Alphabet Challenge: Parkrun Tourism

So… you may know from past posts that I’m pretty much addicted to Parkrun. If you haven’t heard of Parkrun, it’s a free weekly timed 5k that happens in parks all over the world at 9am on Saturday mornings.

I’ve been going to Parkrun for a couple of years on and off, although last year I went most Saturday’s if I could. It’s a fantastic way to keep fit and meet other like-minded people and there’s just a fab, supportive atmosphere. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you can walk, jog, run or sprint – it’s open to everyone.

I used to just go to my local Parkrun, but then last year I started to get a bit bored and started getting into Parkrun tourism, which is basically running at different Parkruns across the country/world.

I have now done 48 Parkruns in 12 different locations – which to be honest, I did not forsee when I made my new years resolution to give Parkrun a try back in January 2017.  It just gets very addictive! I’ve had about 6 weeks away from Parkrun due to holidays etc and I’m itching to get back!


What is the Parkrun alphabet challenge?

My target this year was to get to 50 Parkruns, which I should hopefully complete this month.

Earlier this year I came across the Parkrun alphabet challenge, which is basically running a Parkrun starting with every letter of the alphabet.

As soon as I saw this alphabet challenge, I just thought YES I HAVE to do this!

I actually started doing some Parkrun tourism last year but I think this challenge is more of a long term/ongoing one, it may take a bit of time and planning to complete.

For every new Parkrun I do, I will write a blog and Instagram post about it and add it to this alphabet challenge post. I’d really love to do a Parkrun abroad too. Exciting? Very! 😀


Parkrun alphabet challenge: a list of the Parkruns I have done so far (blog posts to follow):

A – Andover

B– Bushy Park

C – Crewe, Chester, Congleton

DDelamere Forest

E – Erdigg (Wrexham)

F

G

H– Hereford

I

J

K

L

M– Minehead

NNorthwich Parkrun

O

P

Q

R

S– Shrewsbury

T-Telford

U

V

W– Worcester Pitchcroft

X

Y

Z


Have you ever completed a Parkrun? Would you ever complete a challenge like this? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Louise X

Photo by Magda Ehlers

Half Marathon Training with Scoliosis: Training Diary – 9 weeks to go!

Hi everyone,

So for my next challenge… I was very lucky enough to secure a place in the ballot of the Great North Run in September! (In Newcastle Upon Tyne)

To say I’m excited is an understatement. This is a huge race and a massive event in the running community.

Soooo… I need to up my training that’s for sure.

At the beginning of this year, I got a half marathon PB at the Wrexham Half Marathon (2hrs 2 mins!)

I then completed the Liverpool Rock and Roll half marathon in May, which was an amazing race but bad weather meant I didn’t manage to get a PB.

I would love to get a PB at Newcastle, but, I’m not sure if I have the time to train enough as it is only 9 weeks away and with a busy summer, I’m panicking now.

So I thought I’d document my training diary to kind of force me to do it, but also maybe to inspire someone else out there.

Ideally I would have started at 12 weeks before the race but life and holidays kind of got in the way, so I’m starting now, with 9 weeks to go!

I have found a training plan online and will kind of work to that loosely but fitting it round my full time job and busy life.

So lets start with this week (commencing 1st July). This is what I have done so far!

==========================================================================

Half Marathon Training: WEEK COMMENCING 1st July – 9 weeks to go

MONDAY – GYM – STRENGTH TRAINING

TUESDAY – INTERVALS 11 x 130m sprints with 45 secs recovery (was supposed to be 13 but I died!) + 5 min Tempo run at 9.09m mile (target Half marathon pace)

WEDNESDAY – REST

THURSDAY – 4 mile run easy

FRIDAY – REST (was on holiday – Sunday)

SUN – would ideally be long run day but I’m away this weekend so will try and fit it in when I can.

===========================================================================

I’ll be sharing my progress and pictures over on my Instagram – so please follow me and show your support. 🙂

Louise X

Inspirational-Quote

A single 6 months: goal review

In all honestly, the last few months have been pretty rough for me.

I have been struggling quite a lot with anxiety following the end of a toxic relationship and I’ll be honest, I have found myself dangerously close to a bad place. However, I have decided to take control and to use this time alone as a period of reflection, to really focus on myself and my goals and get to know myself and what I want out of life, which I think is what I really need at the moment.

I’ve been focusing a lot over the last 12 months on my running and fitness. If I’m brutally honest, I think this has been a massive distraction to what was going on or has happened in my personal life.

Whilst running certainly helps with my anxiety and well-being, what I’ve come to realise is that by focusing everything on that,  I have been failing to deal with deeper issues that really need to be dealt with before I can move on with my life/even attempt another relationship.

So while I have thrown myself into running and my physical health, I’ve realised that I’ve completely neglected my emotional health. I have been living life on full speed, leaving no time for me or to think/deal with things that I need to. This in all honestly led me to have a bit of a burnout, which resulted in me breaking down at work a few weeks ago.  

I know that I’m a strong person. I have been through a lot in my life and come out the other side, and this is no different. My breakdown was a bit of a turning point for me. I can see what has happened and how and I’m happy to say that I’m now feeling much better and ready to take back control and consciously make some time for self-care, which I’ve come to realise is really important.

I’ve always been very goal orientated, so I have had a look at my 2019 goals and, whilst I still want to continue with my running as it does help me massively, I wanted to also include some self-care and personal improvement goals. I find writing my goals down helps me to focus and I also have them on a whiteboard in my flat, which means I keep looking at them everyday. 

I plan to focus on these goals over the next 6 months or so, which I’m dedicating to MYSELF.

No distractions, no drama (I hope!) I think this is necessary in order to heal and get me into a healthier place where I can move forwards with my life and future relationships.


MY GOALS

2019 Goals

RUNNING

I would like to continue running as I do find it incredibly therapeutic and it makes me feel good. My run club keeps me going and I find the people there incredibly supportive and inspiring. There are always events being organised and I plan on getting involved in as many things as I can with the run club, such as volunteering to help with races and events, as well as attending the social events when I can.  I’d also like to carry on going and volunteering at Park Run as again this is great for me (I’m almost at 50 Park Runs now!)

I’ve come a really long way with my running and I’d love to see how far I can take it. My main goal is to achieve a sub 2 hour half marathon and I probably need to find a running coach to help me with this, although I was fairly close with the Wrexham half marathon earlier this year (2.02!)


THIS BLOG

I feel like I have neglected my blog a bit recently but I really want to dedicate some serious time to it by using my marketing background to develop a proper strategy. I love helping people and my blog and my Instagram give me so much satisfaction and purpose. 


SELF CARE

Take Care of Yourself Quote

This is the Biggie. I have decided to dedicate the next 6 months or so to self care. This is something I have unknowingly massively neglected over the last 12 months. I have always found it difficult to relax, but the last 12 months have been so hectic and stressful that I was running on full speed without taking the time to just STOP. I think I was afraid what would happen if I did stop and what emotions I would feel. But in the end my emotions caught up with me and as a result, I’ve forced myself to slow down a bit.

I’m starting counselling this week, which I’m nervous about but I think it’s long overdue in all honesty. I’ve also started Yoga and am looking into meditation classes. I’ve also decided that instead of scrolling endlessly on social media, I will use this time more effectively to listen to self improvement podcasts or read a book. I am aiming to read at least one self improvement book a month. Whether that be to help with my anxiety, work or goals. 

I have been spending way too much time on social media recently and it had damaging effects on my previous relationship and also my health.

Therefore I plan to use social media much less and only dedicate a certain amount of time to it in order to promote and grow this blog. 


TRAVEL

Another goal I have is around travel. I’m aiming to organise another charity challenge to raise awareness of scoliosis which I will probably take part in next year. I would also like to travel somewhere alone and take part in a Park Run and/or running event abroad. 


PERSONAL

Personal goals I have are around my mindset and positivity. I read Fearne Cotton’s book (Happy) recently and it’s really helped me. In order to achieve a more positive mindset and life I plan to write down things I’m grateful for/good things that have happened each day.

I realise that I have been negative and down in the past about my life and things that have happened to me but it’s so important that I see the positives and appreciate everything I have in life. 


FITNESS / HEALTH

I really want to try something new to help with my core strength. Ideas I’ve had are PoleFit, Climbing or CrossFit. So watch this space!

 


So, these are some of my new revised goals for this year. I wanted to write them on here so that they are out of my head and are written somewhere!

I only want to focus on the next few months and healing, then, who knows?! I can start planning what I want next out of life. 

Do you have any goals that you are working towards? How have you coped during tough times?

Let me know in the comments below. 

Louise X

 

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