V: Broken Back
Reclaiming her life after breaking her back 3 times
V. is a bright, energetic and lovely 40 year-old who broke her back three times. Yes, three times. At 40, she was in significant pain and fearful of what her future would hold. One of the physical therapists she worked with when she broke her back recommended Feldenkrais, but it took her 20 years to follow the recommendation. We began working together in June. After 20 Feldenkrais sessions with me, V. accomplished more than she had ever dreamed of. She is out of pain, taking long hikes, doing the activities she loves, and deeply grateful for her amazing body.
V was 19 the first time she broke her back in a car accident that resulted in a hairline fracture in all seven of her thoracic vertebra. To recover, she was in a body brace for a year. Unfortunately, while sitting in a car in the brace, she got hit from behind and broke 2 vertebrae in her neck. Then when she was 25, she shattered 2 of her lumbar vertebrae in a sky diving accident and it took her 8 months before she could walk again.
In V’s initial email to me, she described her situation:
I have managed a certain degree of pain all my life- but in the last two years, my mobility has gotten progressively worse. I feel like I’m on the verge of being disabled.
Even though I do daily stretching, I go to the gym, and I get weekly massages, my lower back and hips are never relaxed. I am a project manager at Microsoft, so I spend most of my day sitting. However, after ten minutes of sitting my hip flexors and lower back are so tight and painful, I can’t move. Walking even fifteen minutes is painful.
She said her goal was “to be able to walk for more than 20 minutes, hike like I used to, and be able to walk up hills without pain.”
In our first session, V. and I studied how she was sitting. V. describes our first session this way:
What I found most fascinating was that for the first time in my life we slowed down the movement so that I was consciously making movements. That blew my mind. I realized I had taken my body for granted and that I was moving without any understanding of how I was doing it.
I remember at the end of our first session, I was sitting in a new way. There was no pain and I thought, “Wow, I could sit here all day.”
At the beginning, V. stood with her shoulder pulled back and her weight behind her. This put her off-balance in sitting, standing, and walking and resulted in a lot of unnecessary stress on her lower back. V. and I worked on refining and improving her awareness of her spine, pelvis, and shoulder blades and how to move more efficiently, easily, and comfortably.
V describes her journey:
Within eight weeks, I no longer had pain when I walked. I went on a hike and it was longer than I wanted (like seven hours). My legs were a bit sore, but it was only when I got back to the car, did I think, “Holy Cow, I just walked for seven hours. I love Laura!”
And in my bar class, we would do these exercises where I had to raise my hands over my head. I would get so, so very tired. Then, Laura and I worked on raising my arms by sensing and using my shoulder blades and now the movement is easy.
There are so many examples. Yet, it felt like there was no effort in changing. The change just happened. It was not like I had to go home and practice the piano every day. Best yet, I can now feel when I’m moving well and when I’m not. And when I’m not, I can self-correct.
There is also an emotional component. There used to be so much fear about what was going to happen. If I was in so much pain at 40, what would my life be like at 60? That psychological issue is now gone. Feldenkrais was like having the sun come out. I now have all these possibilities.
I love working with Laura. She speaks to me in a way that I get it. She is grounded and there is a consciousness that pervades the way she works. It’s inspiring.
Probably, what was most surprising to me in this process, is that Feldenkrais helped me on a spiritual level. When it came to my body, I was just taking advantage of it. I remember the second time I broke my back, I kept thinking, “this body sucks.” However, when you slow the movement down, you can see the beauty of this mechanism that was given to you. I have found so much appreciation and gratitude for my body.
Are you also suffering from pain, be it in your back, hips, shoulders, or knees? If you would like to find your way toward ease, grace, and efficiency, then schedule your free Move-With-Ease consultation.