My “defect” is scoliosis. What’s this crazy tongue twisting word you ask?? Well, scoliosis is a abnormal curvature of the spine. If you look at my spine in an x-ray or even straight on in plain daylight, it looks like an S or a C instead of just a straight line. I wasn’t born with scoliosis, it developed as I grew during my childhood. Do you remember back in elementary or middle school having to get screened for scoliosis in gym class? You would hunch over and touch your toes and your teacher would observe your back to see if it was straight or not? That’s when my scoliosis was discovered.
My scoliosis was monitored for years as I grew and thankfully enough it never developed into a situation that warranted a back brace or even worse – surgery. It was just something I had, that was slightly annoying, that I had to deal with. My left shoulder is higher than my right. My right leg is longer than my left. My entire body is shifted so that my right side sticks out more in the front and my right collar bone protrudes from my chest. I have pinched nerves and knots and back pain all the time that’s existed ever since I can remember. That’s just life.
(I’m standing completely straight in these photos.)
When I first started lifting I used my scoliosis as a crutch. I can’t do this because I have scoliosis or I can’t lift that because it bothers my back. This pinches, that’s uncomfortable, and that other thing just down right feels funny. I’ll just stick to the light stuff and the treadmill because it’s low impact and I don’t want to do any further damage. Back and shoulder exercises scared me. And deadlifts frightened the sh!t out of me. PLUS what business did I have getting into a sport where symmetry is king – I’M ALREADY AT A DISADVANTAGE ANYWAY!!
Over the years I’ve learned that my issue isn’t an end all be all to me in the gym. It’s perfectly to fine to lift with scoliosis – and to be honest – lifting has helped the pain and issues associated with it kind of fade into the background. I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t for my body and how to place my body so that I’m getting the benefit of a lift symmetrically throughout. I always stick my right leg a few inches in front of my left when I do romanians, good mornings, or even squats (which I still come up a little crooked on – grrrrrr). I’ve strengthened my back and my core to help support myself and I’ve corrected my posture by leaps and bounds.
Life presents us all with obstacles that can potentially stand in the way of what we want to accomplish. When that happens we have two options – either accept our fate or step up to the challenge. I’ve turned what I once believed to be my biggest weaknesses into one of my biggest strengths. After all, it’s not the adversity itself but how we react to it that shapes us anyway.