Thursday, December 10, 2015

Corrected Corrected Position

One of the first things done in the clinic is to learn how to correct your body positioning so as to move in as straight an alignment as possible.  And then you are supposed to try to "live" in that new position, adjusting whenever you realize you have forgotten and sunk back into the old alignment. The thinking is that, over time, your body's muscles start to get used to it, with weak ones strengthening and overstretched ones moving back to where they should ideally operate. 

Now that it's been 2+ years, I would say that in general it is true. Your body does start to feel a bit more natural in a more aligned position, and the muscles start to get used to holding your body taller and straighter.  I certainly have had considerably more compliments, even from strangers! at how good my posture is, whether standing or sitting. 

However, this time round, I realize that my adjustment is not optimal. I'm not sure if it is because over time I have subconsciously gotten a bit lazy and do not work at it as much as I may have done at the beginning. And believe me it is hard work having to sit, stand, walk, bend, dance, eat - everything - in what feels like an exaggerated contraction with all muscles firing all the time! Maybe I have relaxed myself a bit more than I should have. Of course there is also Gravity and Time, two conditions I really can't do a lot about, but know that because of them I can't let myself off the hook because every step back means having to make two steps forward just to maintain position.

But I also think it is because of a recent class I have been taking. Always on the lookout for classes and teachers who may have something to add, I came upon a pilates teacher that has worked one-on-one with people, mostly teens, with scoliosis here in Vancouver. I took a class with her and she spent a lot of time working on my standing alignment.

The biggest lightbulb moment was her direction to place my hand on the prominent part of my back, my left lumbar 'hump', and as I straightened myself I was to press this prominence in and up and slightly to the right (centre). By actually moving that bit of my body while operating the underlying muscles, I could feel (and imagine) the difference more. Of course I also needed to slightly shift my hips to the left, my ribs to the right, connect my ribs to my abs while keeping my sacrum up so that I did not sink into my chest nor thrust it out (a tricky little manoeuvre that I am still trying to figure out), ensure my right hip was not too far forward, my core was firing so my butt didn't stick out too much, and all the while stretching up, up, up, as if the top of my head was being pulled by a string, trying to give as much space to my spine as possible without raising my eyeline and head.

It's quite a checklist of things to go through and it takes me awhile to complete the request to "stand up straight". But now that I have been doing this for a month or so, I can start to feel the lumbar muscles work a bit differently. And it helps to imagine what my back muscles are doing when my hand is on them and can feel them move. The real proof was here at the clinic as I add these further adjustments to my previous corrections. Although it takes me longer to get into the corrected position, it has been pretty favourably assessed, with only the odd little poke or prod given. And it made a substantial difference to the standing scan.

So, dear twisters, I guess my point is that there is always someone else who may have another way of doing things that works, or another piece of imagery to try in the quest for personal perfection (which is only possible in our heads of course, but still worth striving for). Also, nothing is static, which can be a little depressing to think about frankly, as it means that there is never one answer that works forever and I know I will always have to make new and more adjustments as I grow older and my body changes.


  1. Hi Jenny, I came across your blog while searching for reviews of the Scoliosis SOS clinic in London. I see you wet back again for a single week. Would you recommend the single week? It's all I could manage off work. Do you think the clinic helped with pain and discomfort? I don't take pain killer day to day but and very uncomfortable almost all the time and struggle to sleep frequently. Thanks! Alison

  2. Jenny! love your blog and so thankful for your feedback. I teach pilates for scoliosis and work with Marie Jose Blom's SMart Spine System... have you heard of it? I read that you do pilates! Hope you are doing well.

  3. oh forgot to mention my site. if you want to check it out! cheers