“Joan Smalls was fourteen years old when she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that can become painful, especially when you’ve been posing in six-inch stilettos all day.
“I do my best not to think about it,” says Smalls, whose condition – identified too late to be corrected with a back brace – leaves her vulnerable to injury.
It has certainly never stopped the 22-year-old Puerto Rican model from pushing her body to its limits; she took up boxing in college and knows exactly how to throw a good punch.
“My coach wanted me to compete, but I said, ‘Do you see this right here?’” she says, pointing to her perfectly proportioned face. “I can’t mess this up!”
A year ago, Smalls started working out with a trainer who prescribed an intense course of body-resistance training to strengthen the muscles in her lower back and glutes. Besides alleviating discomfort, the targeted exercises routine has other perks.