What Happens When You Have A Flare-up From Spondyloletheisis?

Friday morning I received a call and text from my husband. Steven has Spondylolethesis and a history of 2 disc herniation’s, nerve impingement, torn meniscus right knee and of course “Spondy”.
Steven told me he had hurt is shoulder lifting and pushing upward. He felt something spasm under his shoulder blade and had trouble breathing without pain. He could not take in a full deep breath without upper body pain. I had him do some quick exercises that provided a band aid since he made it clear, he was not leaving work. In the middle of his job site, he spent 5 minutes trying to activate and align his body enough to finish work and come to my office.
When he arrived, approximately 8 hours later he was still having trouble taking a deep breath, sneezing was definitely a big challenge!
I did an assessment, listened to everything he said about what happened and what is currently happening.
After the assessment it became very clear, he did not have a shoulder injury! His hips were off balance, meaning one side was elevated, leaving more weight bearing on the opposite side and a small amount of upper body rotation.
It was a muscle spasm in his left spinal erector due to hip elevation and compensation. When he pulled the large pipe and lifting, he was already offset and by pulling on one side, the muscle went right into spasm in the mid-back.
He was given a program of 7 exercises that takes him 17 minutes total. During his exercises, he does deep abdominal breathing when possible.
Right after his first session same afternoon, he was able to take a deeper breath and pain had decreased approximately 50%. This is huge for someone with “Spondy”. The next day, more improvement and breathing issues down to 5%.
In the picture below, he is at the beginning of his exercises. This exercise is relaxing his back muscles while lining up his hip, knees, ankles and feet while working his hip flexors (muscles that move the leg). After 5 minutes he moves into his next exercise.
You don’t have to be a slave to pain or conditions. You can make changes that allow you to move more functionally and without pain. As one of my clients says “effortlessly”.
If you are someone who wants to be pain free and has Spondylolethesis, please contact me and we will do an assessment. If you are not local, all can be done via the internet on Zoom.
Carolyn Vanzlow
CHEK Practitioner Level 4
Postural Alignment Specialist Certified through Egoscue Institute

Do you have knee pain?

Do you have a sore knee?
You start to notice that you are having knee pain, however it’s not bad enough to consider going to a doctor.
If you are an athlete or do a lot of walking and moving around, you might decide to wear a band around your knee to keep it feeling more stable. However; as time moves forward you might start noticing that the knee pain becomes more constant and gets in the way of certain activities. You begin to wonder if something is torn? You go to a doctor and they decide to do an X-ray or MRI. They tell you to go to physical therapy. All the while looking at the knee as the problem, which from that perspective, it is.
Postural therapy is going to look at this situation from an entirely different perspective. Let’s examine what has happened and how to address the pain.
We have 8 loading joints. The joints are shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. It’s optimum if they are equal, however when one joint changes, it will affect both sides of the body and all the other 7 joints. When your knee begins to hurt, you are going to favor the knee and stop putting as much weight on the affected side. Now the opposite site begins to work harder and tighten up due to excess work load. During the process of dealing with a sore joint, the other joints will shift to keep the body upright and able to move. This is very smart on the part of the body, however will play havoc with the other joints and muscles. When approaching just the issue with the knee without looking and working with the other muscles and joints, compensation begins to take over and additional issues can arise. A common example is low back pain. This can go unnoticed until pain starts and now there is a second problem. I’ve heard this over and over where clients will start with an injury on one side and later well after the injury is better they begin having problems with other body parts. Maybe you are wondering why low back pain would occur months later? The compensations that occurred during the time of pain and injury changed your movement patterns. One side is still working harder, while the other side may be less strong and a bit inactive in certain muscles. How this happens goes back to the nervous system and survival. Your body learned a different way to survive and keep you upright with more weight on one side. Unless this is addressed, your body doesn’t know you need to re-educate how to move. It’s just doing what was necessary to help you get around during the painful knee issue. This is a simple and brief explanation of what happens.
How do you fix all of this? When assessing the posture, we look for misalignment’s and compensations. Maybe one shoulder is higher than the other, or you notice one arm looks longer. Maybe your upper body is rotated in one direction, or a kneecap looks lower than the other side. Using stretches and exercises we can begin to straighten out the misalignments and when this occurs, pain reduces, and you begin to move freely without restriction from a painful joint. A simple morning routine around 20 minutes per day will reduce pain and improve movement. Its really empowering to have control over your pain and experience it diminishing.

Carolyn Vanzlow Postural Therapist
CHEK Practitioner Level 4
AET Certified through Egoscue Institute

My Journey To Living a Pain Free Life

As a Postural therapist certified by Egoscue Institute, my journey started by realizing I could not go one more day in this amount of back pain, neck pain, hip pain and shoulder pain. I had a history of herniated discs, whiplash, narrowing of the spinal canal and fracture of the thoracic spine. At 49 I hit the wall and decided if I could not find another venue, I would have to follow the western medical paradigm. With a very intended mindset, I decided to look outside of the box for some other type of therapy. I had tried many modalities prior to this, however nothing would “stick” and within hours all the pain returned.

I eventually found my way to the CHEK Institute where I learned about posture and exercise prescription.
I learned a lot about how to care for myself and others.
In 2007 after smashing my right foot and wearing a medical walking boot for 6 weeks, I ended up snapping my left hamstring. Now, more problems.
The medical walking boot  is used to immobilize the injured area, often toes, feet or ankles. What happens is it offsets the entire kinetic chain.
Our bodies have 8 loading joints, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. The boot has a thick sole which adds height to one side of the body. Now you have a built- in leg discrepancy, offsetting the iliac crests and now creating dysfunction in the lumber spine. Think of the discs in your spine as a smore. Just as squeezing the smore causes the filling to go out the opposite side, same thing happens to the lumber discs. This causes pressure from being offset and can lead to a bulging or herniated disc. Many clients notice they begin having low back pain and never really putting it together how it happened.

By changing the position of the bones, the muscles follow; thus, causing additional problems.

There is a solution to all of this. As a Postural Therapist I can put a program together on my ePete software while you are still in the boot. By implementing your daily Postural menu, you can work on keeping the rest of your body feeling intact and avoiding additional issues after the boot is long gone.

Carolyn Vanzlow is Level 4 CHEK Practitioner and
AET Certified Through Egoscue Institute


Are you someone with Spondylolisthesis? For the sake of this little article I will refer to “spondy”. As a Postural Therapist, I have worked with many who have this condition. Some were born with it and others due to a catastrophic event acquired it. The clients I have worked with seek my services because they are dead set again surgical intervention or drugs. They are proactive about daily exercises and movements that will help them stay pain free and keep active. Some of my clients are construction workers, athletes and others are people with low activity jobs. They all concur that movement, the right movement keeps them relatively pain free and happy.
When a new client comes in with this condition, I like to spend a lot of time learning about what brings the pain on, and what movements decreases pain or stops it.
Some qualities I have noticed about most Spondy people is winging in the shoulders and a forward lean when walking. What I like to do is teach their shoulders proper function and and decrease the forward lean. All of this is done with Postural Therapy.
Some clients come in with a lot of pain and have a difficult time standing for any length of time. Many times this is due to lack of muscle activation. Postural Therapy re-educates the nervous system and the muscles become more active, thus pain decreases.
After they start feeling better, we go into corrective exercise with helps hold the postural alignment (think of exercise as glue). Unless the client is active in a contact sport, many go on to do what they like.   

For more information and a complimentary assessment in person or via the internet:

carolynvanzlow.com or email carolyn@carolynvanzlow.com