Chest Openers versus Back Openers

I’ve talked before about having Scoliosis.  Its something that causes me minimal discomfort, but is still there lingering.  One of my most prevalent issues is a lack of thoracic mobility.  I feel tension between my shoulder blades a lot.  I had been focusing a lot on exercises that could strengthen my back or open up my back.  I was focusing on cat and cow in yoga….and paying extra attention to anything that was supposed to relieve back pain.

Then one day in yoga, we did a chest opener.

Eureka!  I was thinking about my thoracic mobility issue all wrong.  I didn’t need to do exercises that opened up my back, I needed to do chest openers!  I started focusing on opening up my chest and my shoulders, and found that those exercises were much more productive.

I still don’t have the upper thoracic mobility to get the fullest benefit from a lot of chest openers, but I’m accomplishing things in baby steps.  Eventually, doing more chest opening poses will start to open up that thoracic spine.

I know these seems like a small revelation, but it was a massive discovery for me.  Yoga has continued to surprise me.  It doesn’t matter how long you practice it, you are always discovering new things and learning more about your body.

What was the last revelation you had about your training or workouts? Do you practice yoga?

Weekly Update – 8/4

Can you believe it is AUGUST already?  And here in VA, we have had unseasonably cool weather.


Monday Morning: Got up early for a 2.5 walk/run on the treadmill.

Monday Night: Hatha yoga with Sue. She made class much harder this week since last Monday was “easy.” Did a lot of hip openers again, which I love.  My hamstrings were rather tight which lent to some difficulty, but nothing too bad.


Woke up with some discomfort in my left heel.  I’m going to switch to running in my new shoes and see if that alleviates anything.  I think the shoes I’m wearing have bit the dust.

Danny night. Felt pretty good, super sweaty.  I suck at jump roping!

Three Rounds:

1. Elevated split squat kettle bell press (reverse grip) – 12 each side

2. Hamstring rope pull

3. Jump Rope for 3 minutes


Wednesday Morning:  2.25 miles walk/run on the treadmill.

Wednesday Night: Vinyasa yoga with Sue.  Class was pretty difficult.  I FINALLY got Half Moon and was able to hold it for at least 10 seconds!  It’s easier on one side than the other, but eventually I’ll even out.

Side Note: My right shoulder was abnormally sore from Tuesday’s workout and made doing anything where I put my hands behind my back nearly impossible.


Danny night.  My shoulder was really bothering me all day on Thursday, so we basically did a rehab day.  Danny diagnosed it as anterior deltoid soreness; mostly cause my shoulders are super tight due to my scoliosis.

Round One (2x):

1. Resistance Band pull forward (20 sec hold each side)

2. Resistance Band pull down (20 sec hold each side)

Round Two (2x):

1. 10 “power rangers” each side

2. 5 hip hinges

3. 1o resistance band side steps

4. 5 hip hinges

5. 10 resistance band side steps

My shoulder felt significantly better after that, but I suspect it might be a few days before it feels 100%.


Friday Morning: Walk 1.75 miles on the treadmill.

Friday Night:  Rest night, YAY.


Danny and I worked out in the outside area.  He had me working out with Nicole (another trainer).  We had to stick together and not move on to the next exercise until we were both done.  It was a pretty tough workout. Nicole is pretty hard to keep up with – she’s a machine!

1. 25 single arm resistance band press (each side)

2. Run 100 meters

3. 25 single arm dumb bell cleans (10 lbs) each side

4. Run 200 meters

5. 25 single arm suitcase dead lift with 20 lb kettle bell (each side)

6. Run 300 meters

7. 50 resistance band back rows

8. Run 100 meters

9. 50 goblet squats with 30 lb dumb bell

10. Run 200 meters

11. 50 kettle bell swings with 20 lb kettle bell

12. Run 300 meters


Rest day.  Got to go down to Elizabeth City to see Michael’s parents, which is always nice.  Got my grocery shopping done for the week then totally vegged out for the rest of the night.  I think I babied my shoulder on Saturday and my neck was bothering me a bit.  Danny is trying to kill me! 🙂

My Journey with Scoliosis

So, I know some of you are probably wondering “What is scoliosis?” Many of you have heard of it, but don’t know much about it.  I very highly recommend you read this post from Runner Unleashed.  She does a fantastic job explaining what scoliosis is and a lot about her journey with it.  I’m only going to give you high level information and share my experience, but like most things, everyone’s experience is unique.

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine.  It has many different manifestations in terms of precises curvatures for each person, but these are the broad categories:


Some symptoms, or obvious signs can include:

– Constant back ache

– soreness after standing or sitting for extended periods of time

-uneven hips/shoulders

– one leg appears longer than the other

– person appears to “lean” to the side

Most schools have implemented screenings for students in middle school.  The tests usually require boys to remove their shirts, and girls to remain in a sports bra.  This allows the screening nurse to see the curvature.



If picked up on the screening, a referral to the doctor is usually the next step.  The doctor usually will follow up with X-rays and continued progress checks.  Braces can be very effective while still growing to correct the curvature.  However, if the curve is severe enough, surgical correction is often necessary.

My Journey:

My journey with scoliosis started back in elementary school when my mom was constantly getting frustrated that we were always buying pants with one leg consistently shorter than the other.  She thought it was the pants!

Fast forward to the middle school screenings, and I got flagged as a potential scoliosis case.  After the initial mass screening, they had a doctor come to the school for the smaller group that was flagged. They told me that my degree of curvature wasn’t enough to concern them too much, but to continue getting screened.  I got screened every year and every year I got the same answer.

My scoliosis didn’t seem to bother me much over the years except when sitting or standing for a long time.  Every once and awhile I’d have flare ups where it would bother me, but nothing bad.

In 2012, I went to a doctor to confirm my runner’s knee as runner’s knee (it had swelled up pretty bad for a few weeks) and I asked him about my scoliosis.  He wasn’t very concerned about it, so neither was I.

Fast forward to the past few months and it has been extremely painful.  I’ve really kicked up the intensity and maturity of my workouts with my trainer and it’s been bothering me a lot.  It seems to be all muscular, which makes sense.  We made a lot of progress on Saturday in identifying weak points, figuring out what exercises can help alleviate my pain, and recognizing that  lot of my issues have been triggered by my scoliosis. Another thing that we forgot about is that sometimes traditional exercises don’t work well for me cause my body is not very traditional!

The good thing is that we have a much better awareness and plan, and I’m so excited to see what we accomplish!

June is Scoliosis Awareness Month and I wanted to do my small part and share my journey.  Although I have not had to endure years of wearing braces, or the pain of corrective surgery, I thought it was important to share. Please, I urge you, if you have kids, make sure they get the screenings during their growing years!