The road to recovery


If you know me, either personally or through the Internet, then you probably know that I am a bit of a fit bunny (but I was not like that for a very long time).

I am always picking up a bar or a weight, jumping around, throwing myself on the floor for some burpees (I do not claim to be great at them!) and what is most important, I tell people to do the same. Constantly (hello there, my amazing clients!).

Without going back to the very beginning, let us just say that my fitness journey started at my last job, between my friend Brian and my mentor back then, Austeja, I ended up doing what I do for life. Fast forward a bit, and here I am, talking about recovery. Why? Because I have a boo-boo that I really want to talk about.

See, all my life I have lived under the impression that my body had issues, that I was faulty from factory because of back problems. I suffer from a mild scoliosis, which I was told was due to one leg being shorter than the other. Back then I was told to not run (to avoid impact on my lower back), to not jump (same), to be generally careful, and that I could potentially wear a thicker insole in one of my shoes to counter-act my shorter leg; so even though it was mild, in the back of my mind I have always had a bad back.

When I got my Personal Trainer certification, the instructor showed us some postural analysis we could practise and he offered to do some on us and he said that my scoliosis was due to muscle imbalances in his opinion. He said that one side was extremely tight while the other one felt weak, and I should be able to correct it with stretching and such. Pffft! I mean, what did he know? A personal trainer's opinion, against the opinion of a specialist back when I was a kid. But you know what? It kind of stuck in my mind.

While I have continued to believe in my bad back I have become a bit more interested in core stability and strength (not necessarily a six-pack!), postural health and movement screening, and tried to be better at it (and mostly failing, because we are humans after all, and cannot be perfect everyday of our lives).

I did a health assessment not long ago which told me that my core was quite strong and stable (yay!) but that I did not have enough curvature in my lower back, and that my shoulders were too forward and rounded. Also, when I bent down, my lumbar spine analysis showed a jarred line instead of a smooth one.

Cue the fall

I fell off a small flight of stairs last August and hit a bookcase pretty hard. I hit my back in a couple of places, my shoulder blade and the back of my head. Now I have been told, and I know, healing is a long process but it has been long enough by now and I should be OK. I am not. So I decided to visit a friend of mine who happens to be an osteopath (hi, Danny!). He did a first assessment and I got a bit worried that he was way excited about all my issues, you know, like a puzzle to be solved! He kept mentioning that I was more complicated than he thought I was going to be, which I had warned him about anyway.

It turns out everyone has been kind of right so far - except that specialist in Spain as far as I am concerned, but barring any major injuries or disabilities, I would distrust anyone who forbid me to do fun stuff anyway!

I have indeed some scoliosis, which we knew about, because of a hip misalignment - which is causing one leg to feel shorter than the other. The lack of lumbar curvature is something I have been trying to work on for a while, but what I did not know was that my shoulders are not rounded because of a lack of back exercises and a way-too-tight chest (which I have been trying to correct in the last few months) but by a lack of a healthy thoracic curvature. See, everyone's spines should look a bit like an 'S'.

Drawing of vertebral column from Gray's Anatomy and Wikipedia Commons

Drawing of vertebral column from Gray's Anatomy and Wikipedia Commons

Henry Gray, Anatomy of the Human Body (1918).

Wikipedia Commons.

It seems that my thoracic spine is not as rounded as it should be, which means my shoulder blades have had to shift their positions slightly (the body is amazing at compensating, even when it might not be the best in the long run, our bodies will always find a way to get the job done!).

This has caused my shoulder blades to move out of alignment and put pressure on my collarbone and other areas, as well as preventing healing. My guess is if the building blocks were not in the best position to start with, the impact of the fall has only made it worse, and so it hurts.

I had some physiotherapy appointments where they used acupuncture (which really helped at the beginning), but now it is just a matter of doing endless exercises, three times a day, to strengthen shoulder muscles that are not in their best location to begin with... and that is why I decided to see an osteopath, so someone can break me and put me back together.

It will not be an easy job, and I do not expect him to just fix me, of course. It will definitely be a team effort, and I know I have to do my bit if I want to get my strength back and be able to work out and train others without pain.

So what now?

The good thing is Danny has said he can fix me, so there is that. The consultation was not only fun, but also very interesting (it was also a bit of an anatomy exam, but that is just because he wanted to test my knowledge a bit).

For now, I am meant to see him twice a week for the next few weeks, just to sort of put me back together. It will be up to me to then maintain his hard work and make sure I do not undo everything he will be doing during our sessions, which means scaling back sometimes.

Last week I skipped my workouts, just because I was sore from our session, and I did not want to make it worse. I worked out while away at a spa retreat, and then I caught the flu again. That is twice this year, although technically, last time it started on New Year's Eve...

On that note, I have decided to take a step back and repeat week 4 of the workouts I am currently doing, which I will restart as soon as I feel recovered from the flu. My advice will always be to look after your health first, and then go for performance and fitness goals, because after all you cannot perform to your best unless you are fit and healthy.

If you are interested in seeing an osteopath, I cannot recommend Danny enough. He currently works at Eltham Osteopathy Clinic but you can also find him running around and training for the marathon on his Instagram page.

I will keep you updated on my progress, but in the meantime, here is an image of my problem areas.

  • Reduced thoracic arch and mobility.

  • Compression in right acromioclavicular joint.

  • Reduced subscapularis strength.

Spinal and postural analysis showing issues in cervical and thoracic areas, as well as shoulder