Me – Tamara Weston – Owner of T Form Pilates
MY STORY Nobody is perfect. No body is perfect
Nobody is perfect. No body is perfect. . . Some people are envious of others whose legs run for miles, some want a smaller nose or thicker hair; for me it is all about the spine. When I look at someone’s back and see a straight spine, level shoulders and symmetrically placed scapulars, I think . . . I wish I had that! Welcome to the mindset of someone with scoliosis. For those who are not familiar with the term, scoliosis is curvature of the spine where the spine bends sideways and rotates along its vertical axis, these changes have cosmetic and physiological effects which can have long term consequences if not managed correctly.
At 14 years of age I found myself in the Royal Children’s Hospital lying terrified and semi-naked on a narrow metal plank suspended one metre off the ground, being slowly wrapped like a Mummy in plaster-soaked, cold, wet bandages. Fitting day was tougher. I remember the Prosthetist presenting me with my enormous new back brace and the tears welling up as I stared at the doctor and my mother in disbelief that they expected me to wear this fibreglass coat of armour 23 hours a day until I stopped growing. Coming from a family of giants, who knew when that day would come?! As I grew the braces grew, four in all over the three years. I became accustomed to being very hot in summer, not showing my midriff when it was the fashion, not being able to eat much in one sitting and generally being restricted. Dancing class was awkward, trying to disguise it was frumpy and convincing my parents to let me be social without it was exhausting. However, there was no denying I had the best posture around and that my brace gave new meaning to “abs of steel”.
When I received my scoliosis diagnosis I was what the doctors considered a “borderline surgery case”. I had two curves, a top curve of 40o and a bottom curve of 34o. Although severe, I still made the cut for brace. Surgery, which is highly recommended for curves greater than 45o, involves a spinal fusion where rods and screws are permanently inserted along the spine to reduce the amount of the curvature. I consider myself lucky to have been a “brace case” as I have been able to maintain a level of spine flexibility and mobility which I would have lost with spinal fusion.
One of the four braces I wore – still fits… (not really!)
Once I had stopped growing I was slowly weaned off the brace. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. I used to look forward to my one hour of brace-freedom each day, but this became a real trial as my body was so weak it could hardly hold itself up. This was when I was introduced to Pilates. I fell in love with the movement and its positive effect on my body. I needed to gain core strength and maintain flexibility and mobility through my back. Pilates provided this with low impact exercises that improved my overall muscular strength and endurance. The method placed a strong focus on my posture and alignment and it was not long before my flexibility returned and I was feeling strong.
I pursued a career in marketing, but at 26 decided on a change of direction. Avoiding a life at the desk was high on the priority list and finding something I was passionate about was right up there too. The words of my orthopaedic doctor were still ringing in my head – after my last consultation he said “go away and have a normal life, you are no more likely to suffer back pain than anyone else in the population, in fact you would be less likely if you did something like Pilates to strengthen your core muscles”.
So I have settled on teaching the Pilates Method because it promotes a healthy lifestyle and its functional fitness teaches you concepts that can help you positively change the way you do things at your work, sport and play. It is challenging and mindful and it is a good workout.
Through Pilates I have unlocked a very active life!
**There are many types of Scoliosis which can develop from a range of different factors. For me, I have ADOLESCENT IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS (AIS) – This type appears in early adolescence in about 2- 3/100 children. Of these, about 1/10 will require some form of treatment, brace or surgery, or both. So, roughly, 2-3/1000 children will require medical treatment for their scoliosis. Girls tend to get more severe curves more often. We don’t know why.
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Level 1, 589 Malvern Road, Toorak 3142
0438 566 374