Did you know Usain Bolt has scoliosis? Yes, the olympian who is famous for being the world’s fastest runner. So does Gabby Allen, Love Island contestant who has defined the odds and pushed herself beyond her condition. Finally, Shailene Woodley, Hollywood actress who has starred in The Fault in Our Stars, Big Little Liars and Divergent. It’s important to understand we aren’t alone and understand that we can still achieve big big things whilst living with our condition. Here’s the proof! So let’s look a little further at their stories…

Usain Bolt

That’s right… Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist, has scoliosis. Bolt is the current 100 and 200- meter world record holder, who still enjoys the title of the world’s fastest man alive, despite retiring from the track years ago. Bolt in an 2011 interview stated

“When I was younger it wasn’t really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine is really curved bad [makes “S” shape with finger]. But if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn’t really bother me. So I don’t have to worry about it as long as I work hard. The early part of my career, when we didn’t really know much about it, it really hampered me because I got injured every year.”

On the 25th January 2022 Bolt posted an Instagram picture of his back with the caption ‘Couldn’t let Scoliosis stop this Dream’ the popularity from our community generated over 270,000 likes, becoming one of Bolt’s most liked posts. This post dispersed positivity amongst our community proving how anyone with scoliosis can defy the odds and join the fastest man in the world… we got this!

Gabby Allen

Moving onto Gabby Allen, famous from her Love Island Season 3 UK debut, Allen provided a great source of inspiration to the younger (and probably more tech savvy) community members by being an instagram athlete who has pushed her body to do incredible things with scoliosis. Allen had surgery, reconstructing her ribs and deflating her lungs before having rods and bolts to secure her vertebrae in place, when she was 12 years old and now has an 18 inch scar along her spine. 

Allen’s recovery was far from easy, with being a dancer before surgery Allen was determined when she had to learn how to walk again and said:

“[she] went back to dancing within 6 weeks. And won a ballet championship 6 months after!”

What an amazing achievement so soon after surgery! Allen stands by the quote about our bodies which is “Support them. Believe in them! Love them!!”and we stand by this quote too!

Shailene Woodley

Have you ever seen The Fault in our Stars? Divergent? Big Little Liars? Well outstanding Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley has pushed herself beyond her condition and uses her platform to spread awareness about scoliosis which we are beyond grateful for! Shailene was diagnosed when she was 15 whereby Woodley stated that:

“[her and a friend] were getting ready to go swimming and [she] was in a bikini. … [her] best friend was like, ‘Shai, your spine is weird,”

after getting a 38-degree curvature diagnostic and spending two years wearing a back brace for 18 hours a day, Woodley has never looked back and uses her condition as a strength. “I still have scoliosis, but it was never a question of whether I could be active or not. Never. … it’s never been physically limiting at all.”

And we totally agree.

There are so many more celebrities who I haven’t included which include: Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Eugenie of York, Liza Minnelli and many more… having scoliosis or a spinal fusion is a strength and we’re so glad to join the community alongside these celebrities.

It’s so important to see people with huge social platforms speaking publicly about their scoliosis as it not only empowers us individually but unites us as a community. These personal  stories are  empowering and prove how you can achieve immense success in your passion. Who do YOU find inspirational?

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Lily Harris