I have been working with Susan Henning since the autumn of 2010. I am a 61 year old female whose scoliosis was diagnosed at the age of ten during a pediatric check up. I was most fortunate to avoid back surgery since my spinal growth stopped at about twelve years old. I was left with an “S” curve, left lumbar and right thoracic in good balance. Throughout my life, I have been inconsistently active, especially with regard to exercise because of my repetitive crash and burn pattern. Just as I would achieve some level of tone, strength, and cardiovascular conditioning, my back or a leg, or hip would start hurting, become inflamed and I would stop all activity in order to heal. My healing processes required months, despite whatever relief modalities I used. These included anti-inflammatory, over the counter and some prescription medications, icing, bandaging, bracing, physical therapy, deep tissue massage, energy work. Ultimately I spent more time not doing anything than doing.
My first contact with a Postural Restoration (PR) therapist was different. The therapist actually knew how to diagnose what type of scoliosis I had through a simple movement pattern. All previous therapist nodded their heads, they knew scoliosis, they understood it was quite asymmetrical and then proceeded to have me do activities that were symmetrical. If each side of the body of a person with scoliosis is different, then the symmetrical exercise will overload one side due to the opposite side’s inability to perform comparably. All the years of running, using treadmills or elliptical machines, or free weights or home gyms required bilateral activities that inevitably overloaded my “good” side and then the pain would start.
My PR therapists have understood what parts of my body need to be built up. The process has been quite slow. I came into this new approach over four years ago with a curve that was progressing to 60 degrees. I had experienced a pinched nerve, was feeling tingling in my rib hump, left side and have been struggling with right leg pain due to a tilted pelvis. The pinched nerve has not recurred, the rib tingling is completely gone and gradually I am building to muscle tone to correct the pelvic tilt. Most importantly, I am able to walk again! I was always a walker, able to go for and hour or more on weekends. I stopped walking about five years ago and have been attempting to return to a consistent practice. I am seeing real hope for the first time in many, many years.
Susan Henning is the finest therapist I have had in my life. Not only does she listen, she is passionate about my improvement. What I see in PR is the capacity to troubleshoot effectively. If I am having pain when I come in to a session, Susan carefully assesses my neutrality and can always figure how I am out of alignment and then get me back into alignment. When I leave that session, I know exactly what exercise I need to do to either maintain alignment or restore it.
Through Postural Restoration I have received an education about my body, its compensations, weaknesses and am learning little by little how to reconnect and rebuild neurologically and muscularly. I am learning how to hold myself differently, whether standing, sitting or sleeping. For the first time, many of my back and belly muscles are starting to move with breathing and regaining some tone. I have to be diligent. If I let too many days go by without my core group of exercise, then old pain and scoliotic postures resurface once more. I would not and could not be where I am today without the PR therapist I have. At this point in time, I see myself continuing to increase my strength and capability because of the work Susan and I are doing together.