Updated: Aug 5, 2020
BC - Life ‘Before Children’
Married and mother to 3 growing boys, I have been living in Oxford for 15 years, since the birth of my first son. Prior to that my life was mainly in London as a busy Marketing professional; working hard and enjoying life with no responsibilities! Movement in my 20s was about high intensity gym sessions after a long day sitting at a desk at work to ‘keep me fit’. I've always loved the outdoors too, so camping, biking, walking, skiing and climbing mountains were fitted in as much as possible on weekends and during travelling in holiday time.
Becoming a Mother
During the years of young children my movement was mainly lifting & carrying babies (always on one hip!), feeding in awkward positions for long stretches of time and pram pushing, with a bit of pilates & swimming thrown in when I could fit it in. The ambush of 3 children on your body and particularly having a tricky first birth had taken its toll - little did I know it yet!
Running Myself Into Injury
Then I decided to take up running as an easy way to fit in exercise once my third son started nursery; I became absolutely addicted to it! The ability to be outside in nature, exercising and achieving goals gave me huge mental release. First a 5k Run for Life, then a 10k Town & Gown and finally a half marathon. But, looking back, my body was giving me clear warning signs that something was not right and tightness and regular pain deep in my hip never seemed to go away and after countless physiotherapy sessions, it was only temporarily relieved.
One day in December 2014 I went for a lovely 10k training run after school drop-off and that night I woke up to intense shooting pain down both legs and was unable to even walk to the bathroom. That was my last ever long run!
All I remember from that Christmas was being laid on my back taking regular painkillers and wondering what on earth had happened? There was no accident, so how could I be in so much pain? But the injury was repetitive overuse and my body had finally decided enough was enough and as I hadn’t listened to the yellow flags, it was finally giving me a red flag to stop me in my running tracks and any tracks at all for that matter!
AD - Life ‘After Diagnosis’
I was told by physiotherapists I saw in the early days that it would probably return to normal in about 3 months, but this was way out. It took me a very long time, a lot of money and even more patience to get to the real diagnosis; a twisted pelvis and multiple hyper-mobile joints meaning sacroiliac joint instability and pain and most intensely piriformis syndrome.
The pain was initially acute and could be felt all through my lower back. I then got into a pattern of chronic pain, with regular flare-ups that would last 3 or 4 days; some of which I knew the cause of, many of which I had no idea. Hormonal times of the month were certainly a factor and still can be, so I am still very cautious around these times as I am more injury prone.
Being in pain on a daily basis had such a huge impact on my life for 4 years. There were the obvious physical implications of being able to move far less (running was a distant dream!) and always having fear about many movements I deemed risky (like stepping down after climbing over a stile, even with my husband’s hand for support!). I also hated having to say no to doing fun things with the boys outside, ‘because of my back’. I felt 90 when I was only 40 and wondered whether I would ever be pain-free again!
However, the most surprising symptom I found I had to deal with was frustration. I was frustrated and angry with my body and mind for constantly sub-consciously checking in the pain, frustrated that I couldn’t feed my running addiction and frustrated that my injury was affecting my relationships with my family. Being in chronic pain is exhausting and you become very irritable! There were many bad days.
Treatment and Inspiration
My first rescuer was Henry Maitland at Core Evolution, who diagnosed my twisted pelvis. A combination of neuro-muscular therapy and rehabilitation exercises helped me to re-train my body’s movement patterns and help me find strength again. He also helped me realise how important the connection between mind and the body is for both dealing with chronic pain and for allowing your body to heal. Good-bye frustration!
I also went to the wonderful Zita Hadju for myo-fascial release (undoing the knots of tight, sticky fascia) to further help balance my musclo-skeletal alignment.
Both treatments were sometimes relieving, often painful and regularly pushed me into flare-ups. But each time they did, my body would then heal some more and I would end up further up the recovery scale than before. This pattern continued for 4 years, with flare-ups slowly receding, pain gradually lessening and my new and stronger body emerging, something at many points I never thought would be possible again in my lifetime!
The power of good alignment and moving naturally
I have Zita to thank for pointing me in the direction of Katy Bowman’s work (Nutritious Movement), which I have been devouring ever since. I was then lucky enough to attend one of her workshops and it was there that Katy Bowman encouraged me to try the MovNat method. This became the final element of my journey to recovery. I wanted to find a way of moving and training my body to both stay strong but also challenge myself again - but safely this time.
MovNat showed me a new way of moving that made complete sense to me and helped me to keep feeling great. It uses the foundations of movement from human development, many of which I had been using as methods of rehabilitation with Henry to rewire my body’s connection between the nervous system and the musculo-skeletal system. Like a baby, I taught my body how to move again! Understanding the importance of how we move every minute of every day (not just in ‘exercise’ sessions) made me question the effectiveness of all my daily movements and want to find out more.
MovNat & Coaching
I intend to keep moving well as long as I can and to remain pain-free. Natural movement is the best way of doing this as we age. I would hate my experience to happen to anyone else, and this has led me to want to help other people to feel as strong and confident as I now feel. I have therefore studied hard and trained hard over the last few years to gain an Anatomy & Physiology qualification and then to become a MovNat Certified Trainer (Level 1).
The wonderful conclusion is that I am no longer in chronic pain and now live in a body that, although not entirely trustworthy(!), feels great! And I am eternally grateful for the lack of chronic pain on a daily basis.
I hope sharing my journey shows how beneficial a life incorporating natural movement can be, how passionate I am about helping people improve their movement patterns and I would love to help get you started on your natural movement journey.
Lessons I’ve learned:
There are no quick fixes!
Patience is gold and learning to let go of frustration is essential.
It has taken a lifetime of moving (and lack of moving) to shape your current body; both good quality movements and less good quality.
Your body is the sum total of your all-day movement behaviour, not just your exercise hours, so it will take time and patience to re-educate your body to learn new movement habits.
Mental and Physical health are intrinsically linked - poor movement can contribute to poor mental wellbeing and vice versa.
Reclaiming good movement is an enjoyable journey (rather than shooting for a goal). Every incremental step in the right direction, towards good quality healthy movement patterns, is a powerful thing and makes your body feel great and you feel empowered.