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.  

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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!

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