Curves, Twists, and Bends
by Annette Wellings
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pilates for Scoliosis / 978-1-84819-025-2
Whether or not you find this book to be helpful is going to depend on a lot of factors. After much thought, I decided to give it three stars for myself, but mileage is definitely going to vary on this one.
How long have you know you've had scoliosis? How much research have you done on the topic? Pretty much the first third of this book is a sort of "Intro to Scoliosis" and much of the material is pretty much old hat to someone like me, who was diagnosed some 14 years ago. On the other hand, this material would probably be great for someone who was recently diagnosed and wanted to learn how to respond healthily. And while a lot of it comes off as 'filler' to old-timers like myself, there still is a reiteration of a lot of good exercise and living information (like avoiding high impact exercises like jogging).
Similarly, the last third or so of the book involves case studies and lifestyle habits. If you've lived with scoliosis for a long time, you probably understand that carrying a heavy handbag is a no-no and that tight, restrictive clothing isn't going to work with your body. On the other hand, the advice is good, the section is relatively short with lots of "wear this, not that" pictures, and it never hurts to be reminded of these things, if only so that you can show it (again) to your well-meaning family and friends who won't accept why you can't join their jogging club and you can't wear that tight sheath dress.
As for the actual exercises: I've seen some reviewers state that these exercises aren't really 'Pilates' exercises, but I've never done Pilates so I can't really speak accurately for that. If you're just looking for scoliosis exercises, there's definitely a lot of them here. What's even *better* is that almost all of these exercises are safe for surgery-corrected and non-surgery-corrected suffers - a rarity, really, given all the "surgery-correcteds need not apply" scoliosis yoga videos on the market. Wellings really shines here, as each exercise carefully explains what is meant to be strengthened, what to avoid, and what conditions might preclude you from that specific exercise. I do wish, however, that the stick figures had been augmented with "real" pictures, or perhaps video - some of the instructions are a bit confusing.
Most of these exercises are very 'low impact' in terms of what you're strengthening - you're not going to feel terribly tired or worked out after a session with this book. The exercises are more like a "daily muscle maintenance" workout, which is definitely what *I* need, because I have a great deal of pain daily and would be unable to sustain a difficult workout regimen. Also, I've been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so wearing myself out is not really an option. Scoliosis patients with a more active lifestyle and a less pronounced curve, however, may find these exercises to be a little too easy. A lot of the dieting and healthy lifestyle material, too, may seem redundant, but if this is meant to be an introduction for scoliosis sufferers it is rather valid to note that excess weight will massively exacerbate the condition and daily pain AND that the usual weight loss exercises aren't going to be helpful to you (most are too high impact).
So, really, if you've had scoliosis for a long time and already know about healthy eating habits, a lot of this book won't be a revelation. I definitely fit in those categories, but I was pleased with the gentle exercises. I probably would have given it four stars, in fact, if it had just had better instructions and pictures on all the exercises. But even the redundant information is worthwhile if you just need ammo to explain (again)(even to yourself) why you can't sign up for this week's charity run. It's important to remember your limits and not push yourself into injury just because you can, and Wellings drives that home carefully without edging into self-pity. And I appreciate that.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
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