There are two things my own body has taught me:
Stability, flexibility, and strength are almost everything.
Mal-alignment can be the missing key.
At the age of 16 I came off a farm motorbike and jiggered my neck. The clinician I was taken to expertly clicked my neck back into position but the pain soon returned. On the second visit he attempted to manipulate my lower back. I felt nervous and tensed up in his arms, so the sudden manoeuvre jiggered my pelvis instead. I walked out of his office with an acutely sprained pelvic ligament and an anteriorly rotated right hemi-pelvis. Not that I had any idea what that was… He was reputed to be the best in the city, so I never sought further help.
The pain in my lower back niggled on and off and inhibited my deep stability muscles, creating a cycle of muscle imbalance and further pain. I loved to run cross country, but the muscle imbalance wreaked havoc on my biomechanics. I soon added severe shin splints and right knee pain to my list of troubles, but kept running anyway.
Fast-forward to Uni in physio practical sessions at age 20. Fellow students marvelled at the deep instability of my pelvis but no-one could pinpoint the cause. As a new graduate physio the following year I decided to get extra fit and took the hospital stairs all day rather than taking the lift. That triggered an acute episode of intense pain that shot right down my leg. Piriformis syndrome was the diagnosis, but still no-one found the underlying cause; my pelvic asymmetry.
The nerve pain down my leg persisted for 18 months, even after I changed jobs and worked in a private practice with no stairs. I would spend all day helping people get over their injuries but couldn’t manage to fix my own. Using my twisted, weak body poorly also created neck pain and headaches. I could no longer run - my favourite pastime - because my neck was so busy trying to stabilise the rest of me that I found it hard to breathe.
Exhausted, I took a year out, volunteering as a physio educator in Cameroon, West Africa. Teaching gave me new insights about the body and new hope for my own. When I returned home I was determined to take my pain in hand. I completed the training to become a certified Clinical Pilates Instructor and switched to working in a Physio-led Pilates Studio so that I could use the equipment myself. The results were fantastic. My headaches and leg pain disappeared, my spine was better stabilised, and I had only that niggly lower back pain left. I could do almost everything I wanted to without pain, except sit or drive for long distances.
Looking for a new adventure I went to live in Scotland where for three years I worked in an outpatients department and taught Pilates classes on the side. During that time I took a professional development course that changed my life. Dr Barbara Hungerford (physiotherapist) from the Sydney Spine and Pelvis Centre came to London to teach her Muscle Energy Techniques ( MET) for Lumbo-pelvic asymmetry. She used me as a teaching example and put my pelvis, spine and neck back into correct alignment without a single click. Along with the Clinical Pilates method I had trained in for years I was now finally able to master my pain.
That was almost 20 years ago. I have since completed all of Barbara’s MET courses and rarely work a day without using one of her gentle techniques. The Thoracic and Cervical Spine MET course revolutionised my approach to these zones, and is also invaluable in the treatment of many shoulder and elbow complaints. Restoring pelvic and spinal symmetry is easily the most rewarding aspect of my work. Then comes the challenge of working together with the patient to restore muscle balance and dynamic postural control, to maintain that beautiful symmetry and give back functional strength. This is where my Pilates experience and exercise prescription expertise come to the fore. Restoring pelvic and spinal symmetry lays the foundation; correct exercise prescription is the ticket to lasting results.
My Tamworth-born husband and I have three children, and as a family we have travelled and worked as volunteers in Cameroon, West Africa and in France. In 2020 we returned to Tamworth where I am delighted to be able to work from Simon Tydd’s rooms once again.