Is it possible for one exercise to change your life? For me, the answer is yes!
As a kid I had what is commonly called a ‘sway back’, which is a larger-than-usual curve in the lower back. It wasn’t painful, it was just ‘normal’ for me and I didn’t really know it wasn’t a good thing.
When I was 13, I tore my hamstring almost completely from the bone. It was a serious tear, so I was seeing a physio twice a week. He was the first one to mention the word Lordosis – the anatomical term for a ‘sway back’. So, as well as treating my hamstring, he gave me two exercises to correct the alignment of my spine. I didn’t take him too seriously because I didn’t have back pain and I was too young to appreciate the benefits of the exercises that he gave me- however, now I use these exercises all the time for my clients because they are simple and highly effective.
Like most teenagers I did those exercises for a while but then I forgot about them and life went on. Until I was 15 and I started to experience back pain during my gymnastics training particularly when doing hyper-extension skills (back bends). I consulted with a Chiropractor who took x-rays of my spine in varying positions. He discovered that four of my lumbar vertebrae (lower back) were ‘frozen’ instead of moving independently as they should, they moved as a block. This meant that L5- the one vertebra below the frozen four- was compensating and moving four times further than it should. He used chiropractic manipulation to get things moving freely again and he taught me how to use my thoracic spine and shoulder girdle more effectively to keep my back safe during hyper-extensions. This changed my life, and later when I became a course presenter for Gymnastics NSW I passed this knowledge on to the hundreds of coaches that I taught as well.
Fast forward to my first pregnancy- the lordosis had returned. Following the birth, I recovered quickly but I didn’t realise how poor my posture had become. I can’t say that I had back pain, but every day I had stiffness which was nothing more that just a little bit annoying. It didn’t interfere with my life and I just accepted it as normal.
Until I gave Pilates a go! Pilates has given my body a sense of freedom and ease of movement that I didn’t know I was supposed to feel all the time. I was excited to start my instructor training and learnt lots of exercises – and one in particular that changed my life.
The Shoulder Bridge!! An exercise that mobilises the spine while simultaneously strengthening the core and activating the gluteals. The reason that this exercise was so profound for me was that I could feel the improvement after each repetition, and after practicing the shoulder bridge for a few weeks my posture improved and the everyday stiffness associated with lordosis had gone. The feeling of freedom in my spine had become my new norm.
So, is it possible for one exercise to change your life? Yes! But it’s a case of the right exercise for the right person. I love the feeling of freedom that Pilates has given me, and I enjoy sharing that feeling with the people of Narellan and Camden. In my classes in Smeaton Grange we can find your life changing exercise.