It's that time again when I share another one of my success stories with you all. Meet Ms A, a 72 year old lady who loves walking holidays, travelling and puts my social life to shame! Ms A came to see me because she had been suffering with constant upper back pain for many years from a collapsed vertebrae in the middle of her spine. She also has osteoporosis and fractured her hip 12 months ago, fractured her elbow four years ago and injured her knee in a skiing accident 50 years ago which has always bothered her. When she first came to see me she was unable to walk from the grocery store to her house carrying a light bag of shopping without experiencing pain. Her main goal was to get out of pain so she could go back to enjoying her walking holidays. Here is what happened...
Ms A was experiencing pain in her neck, upper back and mid back. As you can see from the photos below Ms A had a very rounded upper back, a kyphosis, and this part of the spine had no movement - it was blocked. You can see from the photos that the back of her neck was very crunched and the head had migrated forwards. The muscles of the chest and front of the shoulders were very tight. This was creating great strain on the front of the neck and the upper and mid back as the muscles try to hold the bones from falling forwards and down. Not so visible from the photos was the increased lumbar curve (low back). Both the upper and lower curves of the spine were too big. In the middle of these curves is the thoracolumbar junction created where the T12 vertebra meets the L1 vertebra. Ms A's L1 is collapsed which meant the increased curves here were putting excessive pressure on this joint causing more discomfort.
Referral to a Specialist
The assessment results revealed that Ms A needed specialist manual therapy for her neck. I referred her to Mr Nicholas Potter, world renowned chiropractor who specialises in neck and upper back injuries. Mr Potter was able to realign Ms A's neck so that I could begin working on strengthening the muscles around the neck and upper back to maintain the newly adjusted alignment. Ms A had great success with her treatment and felt it highly complimented the work I did with her.
The First Phase
The first part of Ms A's programme centred around opening up areas of her body that were tight - namely the chest, anterior shoulder and the upper back. I used specialist mobilisations to gently open up the upper back encouraging more movement in the area. Then as the upper back and chest started to open I introduced some gentle exercise to work on the muscles that encourage a more upright position for the upper back and help the shoulders stay open and back. It was the combination of opening up tight areas and strengthening weak areas that helped Ms A's posture begin to change. For the old knee and hip injuries I used exercises to stabilise the pelvis and knee joints - starting with isolated exercises and slowly integrating more and muscles to work with each other. I worked with her twice a week and gave her a mini home programme of stretches to do every day. Ms A was exceptionally diligent and as a result her body began changing very quickly - despite her age.
Ms A began to experience changes within 2 weeks of beginning her programme with me. The treatment she received for her neck had an instantaneous affect - relieving years of neck discomfort. Within 6 weeks her upper back pain was gone and she was able to happily carry out daily tasks like shopping and walking without discomfort. Ms A loves the theatre and found sitting for long periods very troublesome for her back. We were able to increase her tolerance to sitting from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Her reassessment results showed more than double the initial range of movement in the spine in all directions. Her initial head alignment was 7.2cm forwards of her sternum and reduced to 4.2cm which greatly reduced the strain on her upper back. Her shoulders also migrated backwards by 1.5cm each side which was a result of opening up the chest and front of shoulders and strengthening the upper back. Ms A noted that she felt less round shouldered, and all of her movements in daily life were easier as well as feeling dramatically reduced discomfort.
The Second Phase
As Ms A had improved so much in the first phase we quickly moved on exercises that encouraged the endurance of her postural muscles and also more functional movements such as a modified squat pattern. Ms A tired quickly in her sessions, so we focussed on the quality of the key movement patterns and I gave her the rest and recovery she needed.
A week 8 of the 12 week programme Ms A went on a walking holiday for 4 days and only experienced discomfort once through the whole trip which she was able to ease with the stretches and mobilisations I had given her. She was delighted with her progress having suffered with daily discomfort for years to hardly any problems at all even on her walking holiday! You can see from the photos below that Ms A's posture dramatically improved. An unexpected development was weight loss. Because Ms A had less pain she was able to move around more during the day and she also took up swimming twice a week. Even though the exercise I did with her was gentle and progressive, it enabled her to return to swimming increasing the total volume of weekly exercise and resulted in a drop of 2 dress sizes in just 12 weeks! Ms A came in to see me during week 9 and told me she was able to fit into trousers she hadn't worn in years - she said she had a whole new wardrobe of old clothes to choose from. Look at her dramatic improvement from week 1 to week 12 below:
In Ms A's words...
"I was really keen to reduce and manage my back pain and I thought KT's approach sounded like it would help me. It didn't take very long for me to be able to get through my day without pain and she helped me identify what was likely to make it hurt - things like sitting for too long. She gave me exercises and stretches that I do every day now. I particularly like rolling out my back. The big test came when I went on my first walking holiday about 7 weeks into working with KT and my back was miraculously pain free for the whole holiday! I was so pleased. I've also been able to get back into my swimming. An added bonus was that I have lost quite a lot of weight which I wasn't expecting. I have a whole 'new' wardrobe of clothes that I can fit into again! So many people have noticed how different I look. I thought I would be riddled with pain forever but now I am pain free thanks to KT's help."
You are never too old!
So there you have it - you are never too old to make changes that improve the quality and enjoyment of your life. If you are interested to learn more about how I can help you reduce discomfort and improve posture then please email me at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk. Let's have an informal chat about your specific situation to see how I can help.