Ellie Davenport shares how she went from fighting scoliosis in a restricting brace to becoming a world champion log roller.
How did you learn about log rolling?
I was 13 years old when I first witnessed someone log rolling at my local YMCA. I remember holding my body brace and looking from it to the pool, knowing right then that I wanted to try it. I went to a try-it session for log rolling and told my mom that night I wanted to become a log roller. The next week I was enrolled in log rolling classes and for the next five years my mom served as my number one fan and taxi driver.
How did scoliosis affect your participation in activities?
One is considered to have scoliosis when their spine has at least 11 degrees of curvature, and I have three curves totaling about 70 degrees. Before being diagnosed, I played multiple competitive sports and was very active. After getting my brace in middle school, I was confined to sedentary activities because I couldn’t bend at the waist or be out of the brace very often. My surgeon advised me that running more than 5 miles would be bad for my back, and I shouldn’t participate in sports that jarred my spine with repeated impact. I continued to play volleyball, but the brace chaffed my rib cage and caused me to overheat, so I had to quit. With no physical activity, my core weakened, and I felt very physically restricted. This had both a physical and emotional impact on me.
Why was log rolling a good activity for you?
Log rolling was perfect for me because I could use my core to keep my spine, chest, and arms aligned. Weight-lifting isn’t an option due to the position of my lungs, rib cage, and spine. This sport was a great way to stay active and engage my core. Log rolling played an essential role in strengthening muscles throughout my back and core, improving my balance and stabilizing my posture.
What was your doctor’s reaction to your log rolling?
My doctor has really liked that I log roll. Initially, he was concerned about me falling while rolling and jarring my spine. As he learned more about the sport, and how safe it is, he encouraged me to continue. Falling straight onto the ground when running, hurts. But the impact of falling onto a spinning log feels small because the log spins you off and the water absorbs much of the fall. He used me as a case study to encourage other pediatric scoliosis patients to do postural sports, such as log rolling. He explained it best when he said “kids in postural sports do better because they teach their muscles how to hold themselves straight. Their brains constantly communicate to their bodiesit’s time to be straight now.”(St. Paul Pioneer Press)
Do you have a sense that log rolling helped you in any particular way?
Log rolling gave me back my independence. Mentally, I had to want it more than anyone else because of where I was starting from physically. After a brace kept me straight for so many years, I had to learn more than the average person about how different core muscles moved parts of my body. I believe that knowledge has helped greatly in my success as a log roller.
Becoming a World Champion Log Roller in 2016 proved to me just how strong I can bewithmy scoliosis, not in spite of it. I accepted that my body didn’t twist or bend like other log rollers and embraced the challenge of paving a new style of rolling and even used my twisted back to my advantage at times. I am known for having wild recoveries; my friends describe me as a puppet who looks like they’re collapsing, but then all of a sudden, my strings are pulled taut and I’m back on top of the log. A fellow log roller said, “I think it’s her scoliosis that lets her twist and fight her way back on top of the log. It’s amazing.”
What are your future plans with log rolling, whether as a competitor or advocate of the sport?
With the Key Log’s portability, I’m excited to take it on road trips! I would also like to take it abroad at some point to Italy and England, where I used to live. My friends have heard so much about log rolling and I’d love to introduce the sport to them. I also want to work with, encourage, and inspire athletes with physical disabilities to see themselves as different, instead of disabled. Competitively, I want to win the 2021 Log Rolling World Championships. With the 2020 season having been cancelled due to the pandemic, I delved into the world of endurance sports, participating in Ultramarathons and the Ironman Triathlon. These have served as great cross training for log rolling, and I think this season will be unlike any other!
We’re so proud to be a part of Ellie’s journey in becoming a world-champion log roller with scoliosis. She’s an inspiration!