Alison Stevenson, 53

Alison has suffered from back pain for most of her adult life, which has been put down to her having a ‘long’ lower back. As a result, she has undergone years of physiotherapy and osteopathy but, as an extremely active person – Alison loved, for example, to ride horses and race cars – she has tried not to let it impact her life.

However, in 2012, Alison kicked a box out of the way when in the office and immediately felt her back ‘go’. She had to leave the office and head home immediately as she just knew something wasn’t right. She just about managed to drive herself home, but the pain got progressively worse as the day went on and, over the next few days, Alison lost partial use of her right leg. As her then husband was currently away on business, Alison had to call her parents and ask them to return home early from their holiday to help look after her. 

As the days progressed, Alison’s condition deteriorated – it got to the stage that she couldn’t even pick up a carton of milk in her local supermarket, so intense was the pain. She was no longer able to drive, walk the dog or even sit down – she had to either stand or lie over an inflatable balance ball, to help provide some relief. In the mornings, she had to literally ‘combat roll’ out of bed. 

Alison’s surgeon recommended an L5/S1 discectomy and decompression otherwise she was warned she was in danger of ending up in a wheelchair. So Alison underwent surgery as she was so desperate to be out of pain and gain some semblance of her old life back. However, following surgery, Alison still couldn’t feel her right foot – she was told it could take up to a year to recover properly. Over the next 12 months, Alison tried physio, pilates, yoga etc with some improvement but the pain persisted and continued to limit her ability to take part in physical activities and lead a ‘normal’ life. She could now no longer enjoy gardening or long walks. Being in constant pain every day was really wearing Alison down – she was feeling fed-up and depressed at the thought of being like this for the rest of her life. 

In 2017, Alison met her now husband who introduced her to hot air ballooning. While Alison loved this new activity, it put immense pressure on her back – it involved lots of carrying, holding on tightly – particularly when landing, and so immense stress was placed on Alison’s back and arms. However, as a pursuit they loved to participate in together, it started to really upset Alison at the thought of having to give up yet another activity. It was making her more and more tired and got to the stage that she felt she didn’t know how to walk properly anymore as she was struggling so much with her posture. 

One evening in the New Year, Alison was googling in a desperate attempt to find a solution, when she came across the Back in Shape program. Alison admits she cried when she watched one of Michael Fatica’s informative videos and everything finally made sense. Although very hard at first, Alison committed to working through the exercises stage by stage, day by day and confesses to it being the only thing she has ever stuck with because it makes perfect sense to her. Since starting the program in January of this year, Alison already feels so much stronger. After a matter of a few weeks following the program, Alison’s pain significantly reduced and she is now virtually pain-free.  She is even planning her first major ballooning event since 2019 in Italy – something she had felt would simply be impossible at the start of the year on account of the 3,000 miles of driving! For the first time in her adult life, Alison feels she better understands her back and the importance of resistance training in maintaining back health. She feels it has definitely given her her old life back and she is now looking ahead to many more years of ballooning with her husband! 

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