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Pilates Changed My Spine and Got Rid of Chronic Pain

By November 16, 2017 One Comment

I was diagnosed with Scoliosis at age 10 told that there was “nothing” I could do to change that. The Doctor was wrong!

I asked the Doctor if some kind of stretching or exercises would help, and he just patted my head.  Well, I didn’t give up  — but it did take years to find an answer.  At age 40, after 2 years of daily Pilates practice and correcting my posture throughout the day, I took an x-ray and was THRILLED to see the results.  There was dramatic improvement, and my pain was gone.

This is my own unique work — VERY MODIFIED PILATES — combined with modern OSTEOPATHIC SCIENCES to understand really functional movement and breathing, as well as THERAPEUTIC BODYWORK.  I did this on myself, and now I do this combination with all of my Pilates clients, whether or not they have Scoliosis.

In Pilates, I started out by working with a reknowned Physiotherapist and Master Teacher Trainer to get some basic concepts to work with my Scoliotic body (Anne Dawson and Monique Lavoie, both from Winnipeg, Canada).  They made it very clear, that I was in somewhat uncharted territory in 2008 and would have to just “figure it out.”

And oh yes — I came up with very modified moves, even breathing.  So a purist (say from a Romana/Classical tradition) would say that it wasn’t Pilates.  Contemporary schools would say it’s still Pilates because it maintains core principles of Centering, Concentration, Control, etc.  Contemporary adapt an exercise to the individual body.

At any rate — I call this work “Lahela Fit Pilates” because it is NOT “just” Pilates.  I blend in Osteopathic Sciences, which teaches a deep understanding of all the joint movements, muscles, connective tissues, etc. and keeps pace with the ever-growing understanding of how the body functions.   And Bodywork is an integral part of “me.”  I have been state licensed (in Hawaii) and Board-Certified (NCBTMB) since 2001, and love adding in something that would benefit the client, especially at the end.   Most recently, I’ve been using Graston Technique® and Haase Myotherapy®.  (It’s really popular with my clients for hands and feet.  Stay tuned for a Blog on that!)

With Scoliosis you’ll generally find that this happens:  1) One leg looks “longer” than the other — they don’t align on the equipment — and they don’t move evenly; 2) One shoulder is “higher” than the other; 3) When lying face-up, there seems to be a lot more “space” behind the back on one side; 4) Spine movements are challenging — so we find ourselves twisting when we are not “supposed” to twist — and it’s challenging to move fluidly where the curvature is.  In short, the standard exercise often doesn’t “work” so well for us.   At least, for a while.  If we “can’t” move in that standard way — do we give up, or do we give the body a chance to change?

I vote for CHANGE.  How about you?

Well — I found that by changing the exercises, MY body changed.  Dramatically.  And I have some long-time clients who have said that they have been changing, too.

After getting my full certification through STOTT PILATES® and also Pilates Method Alliance, I went on to work at a wonderful Physical Therapy/Pilates studio and got to learn even more by working alongside some amazing Physical Therapists in Hawaii (especially in Kailua and Honolulu).  Along the way, I have been blessed to work with all sorts of people from ages 3-88; with Athletes of all stripes (including a few former Olympic athletes, as well as Cirque du Soleil acrobats.  And I also got to do some fascinating work with people who had survived Strokes, Spinal injuries, and more.

As soon as I started teaching in late 2007, I resolved to build a specialty with injury prevention, reducing pain, and addressing Scoliosis (because Pilates helped me so much with all of these).  While yes, I can teach a kick-butt Advanced group class with standard exercises, my first love is to help people move BETTER — and more comfortably.

Although my Scoliosis was fairly mild, I experienced chronic pain from ages 19 to 37 and noticed that I had a tendency to get athletic injuries only on one side.  This chronic pain stopped at age 37 when I discovered Pilates and practiced it daily. After 2 years an x-ray showed substantial improvement, I was elated.  And I would love to help others improve their quality of life.


Are you curious to know more?  I’d be thrilled to meet you.  You can send me a message by checking out my official website, as well as my Holistic Therapies Directory site:

Malama Pono,



Lahela Hekekia

Author Lahela Hekekia

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