|This page is a summary of how I healed my scoliosis, pain, and bad posture through naturopathic treatments.|
Good posture is not just a matter of will power or forgetting to stand up straight. It is often physiological—in the body—as well as in the mind.
Causes of Scoliosis
De novo (spinal degeneration later in life)
Car accidents, falls, other accidents
People get scoliosis in different ways. Sometimes they are born with it, or it may begin in childhood with accidents that whip or crunch the spine. Children are said to reach skeletal maturity in the late teens. They can heal easily from minor injuries, however if there is a bad blow to the spine that goes untreated, a child's body learns to compensate for the injury. This may result in scoliosis and lifelong bad posture. Doctors routinely classify scoliosis as "idiopathic," which means they cannot pinpoint the cause.
In my case, it could have been genetic from my father's side, or it could have been from (or gotten worse from) a near car crash when I was two. My mom had to slam on the brakes and I flew into the dashboard. It was before the era of child car seats. Then in first grade, the school nurse told me diagnosed me with scoliosis. However, I did not take it seriously and forgot about it.
|This is how my spine looked in 2009 when I went into chiropractic care. By the time I got this x-ray, my spine had been frozen in perpetual memory of the accident for more than fifty years. Note how even a ten degree bend can seriously affect a person's posture. The doctor who diagnosed and cured me is Dr. Willie Kindred, one of the first chiropractors in Tempe, Arizona. Click here to visit Kindred Chiropractic in Tempe, Arizona.|
Common Psychological Symptoms of Poor Posture
Crooked value system
Cowardly, no spine
Twisted view of reality
Vulnerable to abuse
Off balance, not in harmony with the world
Those who are blessed with lifelong good posture naturally feel more self-confident and loved. They may never even realize what they've got, but they look healthy and strong.
People with bad posture may grow up with friends who nag them to hold their shoulders back. They may feel left out and unpopular, like they must be from another planet. Due to poor self-esteem they are more vulnerable to abuse and may also blame themselves for other people's problems.
Seeing a counselor can help the patient put things in perspective and get a more positive outlook on life. I had many of the typical symptoms, but was fortunate to see a counselor during the years I was healing my scoliosis.
The photo above (left) turned up on Facebook recently. It was taken in the mid-1980s at the Los Angeles Hare Kritter temple, before I had ever met a chiropractor or massage therapist. Although I appear to lean in and toss my head back, that look is due to the scoliosis. Luckily, the sari hid my bad posture somewhat, so I suppose most people didn't notice it. I wasn't even aware of it myself. I never recognized it as a problem until 2009, when I started to get chronic neck and back pain. The photo on the right is from 2015, after five years of naturopathic treatments.
Natural Cures for Scoliosis
Diet and lifestyle
The most essential treatment is chiropractic. When I used to go to chiropractors for pain relief, I thought I had a few vertebrae that would pop out and hurt, so a chiropractor simply popped them back in. Now I realize that is incredibly naïve. The actual process is to coax the spine back to its intended natural alignment. It happens through many slight adjustments over years, not weeks or months.
The older a person is, and the longer the misalignment has been in place, the longer this process can take. That is because the muscles have compensated for the misalignment, and the bones have grown calcification around them to hold everything in place. It may be less noticeable when a person is young, but years of misalignment usually leads to chronic pain later in life.
Massage therapy helps with pain and is essential to realign the muscles along with chiropractic care. Starting regular chiropractic and massage may relieve the acute pain within a few weeks. However, it takes time to restore the natural spinal curve and good posture. In my case, it has taken years of seeing the chiropractor, lots of exercise, and focus on healing.
A daily stretching routine allows the muscles change to accommodate the new healthy alignment. The best forms of exercise for curing scoliosis are yoga, qigong, ballet, and hybrids of these forms. For example, Classical Stretch, by former professional ballet dancer Miranda Esmonde-White, is a combination of ballet, yoga, and taiji.
Counseling is essential because it gives the patient a chance to talk to someone about the common psychological symptoms of scoliosis.
Diet and lifestyle count because the body needs nutrients and detoxification to heal itself. A regimen of naturopathic treatments may still fail if the patient is eating junk food, smoking, and drinking too much. Instead, eat organic fruit, veggies, whole grains, fresh light oils that contain essential fatty acids; take vitamin c, d3, calcium, and probiotics.
I am putting this statement on the Internet to tell people that naturopathy works. Insurance usually doesn't cover it, so natural care may be completely out-of-pocket. However, over a lifetime, the natural path may cost less than co-pays, deductibles, and prescriptions, and you will look better, and save yourself a lot of pain.
Someday insurance companies (or a future government single payer system) will value natural healing and offer chiropractic, massage, exercise, and counseling as preventive care. Even if it takes five years or more to heal, the natural way is more cost efficient in the longrun. Plus, insurance already pays for exercise, because they usually put patients through physical therapy after surgery.
I also hope this post will encourage the medical establishment to consider the money-saving natural way to heal back, shoulder, and neck pain before prescribing a regime of pharmaceuticals and possible surgery. Natural healing works. My case is proof and I welcome members of the medical profession to contact me about my story.*
Some chiropractors only relieve acute pain, while others work to restore the spine to it's natural alignment. In 2009, I was fortunate to meet Dr. Kindred, who diagnosed my scoliosis, and said he knew how to cure it.
Exercise is one of the pillars of healing scoliosis. Any stretching form, such as yoga, ballet, or qigong would probably work. I happened to heal with qigong. Since 2012 I have been a student in two different qigong groups. Recently one of my teachers asked me to write an article about how qigong helped me, and it is now posted online: Qigong 18 Style website.
Qigong 18 Style is a ritual of eighteen gentle movements, based on ancient forms of qigong, that takes twenty minutes. Visit qigong18style.com to learn more, and purchase the instructional DVD.
In 2017 I had a second set of x-rays that show a great deal of improvement in my back.
In the left x-ray, taken in 2010, my pelvis is twisted and torqued beyond recognition. The spinal cord is stretched out and unhealthy, as well as twisted and torqued.
The right x-ray, taken in 2017 after years of chiropractic treatment, shows signs of improvement. The pelvis is now straightened out and healthy. I still have the ten degree bend in my spine, but the vertebrae are neatly lined up, and appear stronger and more flexible. The pelvis is still high on the right and my shoulders are still low on the right side. This is due to compensating for the ten degree scoliosis curve.
Although the overall bend and imbalances are still present, enough healing has taken place to reduce episodes of pain and make my posture look much more normal.
Looking Back on Years of Practice
By Nori Muster
My first encounter with martial arts was in college in 1976, when I took judo and jujitsu classes. Years later, from 1997 to 2005, I took qigong and taiji classes in Los Angeles. Moving back to Arizona, I started taking qigong and taiji classes again in 2010 in conjunction with a course of naturopathic care for scoliosis. My spine had been bowed since I was in a car accident at age two. It was only in my mid-fifties that I recognized this and got into treatment. Now in my fifth year of intensive chiropractic, massage therapy, and exercise, my spine is straight and my posture continues to improve. I have found that qigong is the perfect exercise for curing scoliosis.
Besides a physical healing, Qigong 18 Style provided a spiritual healing. In the 1980s I belonged to a religious group where I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra for a minimum of two hours per day. They called this sadhana, a Sanskrit word for daily spiritual work. My feeling about completing my rounds during those years could be compared to people who feel they need their morning cup of coffee to get going on the day. For personal reasons, I left the group and eventually quit chanting; for the next twenty years I had no sadhana.
In 2012 I started to want a daily sadhana again. Just at that time I met Tommy and Julia, and started attending their Qigong 18 Style classes. At first I followed the DVD daily at home, then after some time, I could do the movements from memory. For the last two years, Qigong 18 Style has become the equivalent of my morning coffee.
Also in 2012, I was inspired to write a statement about healing scoliosis through naturopathic treatments. You can read it here: http://norimuster.com/writing/posture.html
Benefits and Blessings of Qi Gong 18 Style
by Nori Muster
One of the best things about Qi Gong 18 Style is the simplicity of the movements. Anyone can follow along without the intensive training required in other martial arts. Taiji, which is similar, can take years to learn. The same goes for self-defense arts like Kung Fu, Taekwando, Judo, and Karate.
Some people might dismiss Qi Gong as too simple, but the movements become complex when you focus. As they say, one movement becomes a thousand movements. For example, simple lifting hands can be done half-heartedly, or with intention. Thus, the whole form is new every time.
I do the Qi Gong 18 Style ritual in the morning to start my day, and attend the classes Tommy and Julia McDonnell lead. During the summer months when the days are longer, we can see the beautiful lake and pool area from the community clubhouse when we practice. The full set takes twenty minutes, and the positive energy fills up the room. At times we have had people with injuries who sit in a chair for part or all of the ritual. They benefit, since the Qi energy is uplifting for everyone.
Breathing unites mind and body to function as one, and breath leads to being in the present moment. Qi Gong 18 Style includes breathing. It took me years to get the breathing part, but it's simple: breathe in while lifting up or in; breathe out while releasing down, or out. In life, it's up to every individual to remember to breathe, but the ritual instills the feeling of healthy breathing into the body's memory.
The future of health care is regular exercise, healthy diet, and detoxification. With prevention, we can avoid the surgery and pharmaceuticals the medical establishment sells. Some people have problems that go beyond a simple solution, like injuries, degenerative, or auto-immune diseases. However, for generally healthy people seeking natural health, exercise is one of the top priorities.
People can benefit from practicing once a week, but the benefits multiply with more frequent practice. I have found Qi Gong is the perfect complement to the chiropractic and massage therapy care I've had for treating mild scoliosis. Qi Gong has taught my muscles how to stretch, and be more flexible.
Besides matters of posture and spinal health, I've experienced mental and emotional benefits. Over the seven years I've been practicing, I've noticed my memory has improved, and my moods are easier to change. If I feel anxious about things, doing Qi Gong will calm my nerves. If I feel depressed, the movement and breathing always lift me up.
Another thing I like about the classes is that either Tommy or Julia can lead the class, but whoever is leading, we all face East, toward the lake. They hold occasional workshops for people who want to improve their form, but they don't give instruction in the weekly class. The ritual is simply a moment of peace in otherwise hectic times. I recommend any type of stretching exercise, especially Qi Gong. It's more gentle than yoga, and like yoga, it provides a spiritual mind-body workout and promotes overall good health.
- Nori Muster is an artist living in Arizona, and supports natural healing as the future of health care. Find more about Nori at norimuster.com.