I have scoliosis, a common spinal abnormality that causes your spine to grow off-center. In x-rays, my spine looks like an S.
Many people have mild scoliosis at some degree. However, mine was moderate to severe, a 38 degree curve I would have to get measured every 3 months.
I don’t think about the shape of my spine anymore, but when I was a teenager I did.
I got a back brace when I was 12.
For the vanity concerns of a middle schooler, wearing a back brace was devastating. I had bad eyes, bad teeth, and a bad back–Hoorah!
It was made of hard plastic and covered my torso from the hips to my chest. The first time I wore it around my 5 year old cousin she called me a robot. Three sets of metal teeth for clasps and nylon straps with velcro tips.
Reflecting back, the brace seemed like an archaic fix for 2005.
The brace acted as a corset. After wearing it for several hours, I would have a perfect hourglass figure. At least there was some benefit…
I wore my back brace for 2 years as prescribed, 20 hours with it on, 4 hours off.
My doctor said that my scoliosis wasn’t getting any worse. Nor any better. Apparently, this is exactly what he was hoping (?!?!!). After my doctor insisted I still wear it during high school, my patience grew thin.
I would go to high school wearing the back brace to please my mom, then take it off before my first class. I rode the bus home from high school carrying it in a plastic bag ready to put on before my mom noticed.
During college, I brought it with me. My back hurt if I hadn’t worn the brace for a long time, so I slept with it on.
The brace insulated all my body heat making the room ten times hotter during the night. I would toss and turn all night trying to adjust and itch myself. Many times I couldn’t sleep.
While I lied in bed enclosed in my back brace, I thought about my future…taking pills at 40 for back pain multiple times every day, having metal rods inserted into my back at 50, a hunchback by 60 barely able to move.
Initially, I started regularly doing yoga when I was 18 to become healthier. I never actually thought yoga would stop my back pain.
After 6 years with a back brace,
5 months later,
I stopped wearing my back brace entirely.
5 years later,
my back has never felt better.
I gained back and core strength. My spine became more flexible. My hip flexors became less tight, which aided my low back.
Yoga, along with weight training, has reduced my back pain significantly.
Sure, my back is still crooked as all hell, but it’s stronger than ever and I don’t worry about my scoliosis anymore.
I feel obliged to share yoga to others experiencing similar pain. Doctors may say “you’re headed for surgery”, but please consider yoga as a valid treatment as well.
Metal rods along your spine limits many physical activities…including yoga!
Don’t underestimate the power of movement. It’s an undervalued medicine, which has changed my life… and perhaps yours, too.