Friday, February 22, 2013

Pregnancy, Pain and Pilates

This is a C2 post
For full details see my disclosure policy

Exercise and I do not mix. Unless you count walking on a completely flat surface at a leisurely pace, my body does not like to move and I end up in so much pain that I can't get out of bed for a few days. The only vigorous activity you will see me doing is dancing with much help from alcohol and shed load of pain killers to numb me to my eyeballs. Because sometimes even I need to let my hair down. Healthy, huh?

I've struggled with chronic pain since I was little. I was shipped around to all sorts of doctors and specialists, my favourite of which said it was all in my head and I need a psychiatrist immediately. To which I replied, of COURSE I need a fucking psychiatrist, but that is actually a separate matter to the whole can't move my legs thing. The two are related (I get sore, it's depressing, duh) but they are not mutually exclusive.

So for donkey's years I've been through all sorts of treatments including major opioids, mindfulness training, orthotics, you name it, and nothing has helped. Well, OK, the drugs definitely helped, but they screwed with me a lot and I quite like the ability to digest food so I had to stop taking them. I had given up. This was just how I was.
Then Jacqui Gilmour from Queens Road Physiotherapy offered me a rehabilitative physio pilates session. Other than it being a mouthful I thought "well it can't hurt to try" and then laughed my ass off because yes, yes it can hurt to try if you're me. But I went along anyway.

Jacqui offers pilates for chronic pain, lower back pain and the like, but also specifically for women's health: think pilates for pelvic floor, pregnancy, incontinence, prolapse and all those fabulous things that sometimes come after carrying a watermelon in your uterus for nine months. 

She watched me walk, asked me a few questions, prodded me (gently) then proceeded to tell me where I hurt... and WHY. How many bloody years have I been asking these questions and in a matter of minutes she had answered them.

Turns out I don't activate my muscles correctly - I use the wrong ones to do certain movements so they're having a serious marathon workout every time I take a step and other muscles just aren't working and are wasting away, getting weaker and weaker (meaning the other muscles have to do even more work to make up for it). It's a vicious cycle... but it can be corrected.

I got on "The Reformer" and after singing Reformer to the tune of Informer a few times I started figuring out how to use the muscles that don't want to move... and... I DIDN'T DIE!! Although I nearly wet myself laughing when Jacqui kept telling me to "Spread your butt! Relax it! Relaxed bum!" - so maybe I should see her for some pelvic floor work too. 

I left feeling elated and then promptly burst in to tears. Could this be the answer that has eluded me for over half of my life? Could this lead to a reduction in pain? And if so, why the fuck hadn't any of these specialists over the years told me to do it? They just repeated their stock standard response of "try water aerobics" despite me letting them know that anything in water hurts twice as much. There was only one way to find out: keep going back.

I've been back weekly for sessions (that I pay for) and do a lot of "homework" on a giant rolling pin thing and what looks suspiciously like a dog toy (I'm assured they're actually pilates equipment) and I have had LESS PAIN! HALLE-FREKAIN'-LUJAH!

Because I have private health cover that pays for some of it, the sessions are costing me less than $30. I will keep going back in the hope that the pain reduction continues and that it stops my hip separating like it did when I was preggers with Tricky so I don't have to have my ass taped again.
Have you tried pilates for an injury or pain condition? Did you cry like me?


  1. Super happy to hear that it is going well!! xx

  2. So glad you finally found real Pilates! I started a few years ago and it's all types of amazing!

  3. I love that this is helping you. Pilates is such a fabulous thing. I do it weekly (although just getting back into it since the move, bloody hell!) and it never fails to make me really work up a sweat. I think people pass it over too quickly as an easy workout but it's really quite hard if you're doing it right.

  4. Yay! Good for you. And to answer your questions, yes I did try Pilates for an injury (whiplash) and it's been amazing to get up in the mornings pain-free after years where nothing helped. And no, I never cried, though I often want to (our Pilates trainer is a bit of a sadist).

  5. Yay - glad you've found something to help you. When I was 16 I dislocated my hip playing netball ... I've been strengthening it over many years now, but it still cracks and pops in the cold and I am worried that I might dislocate it again during giving birth. I don't know if a dislocated hip would make it easier or harder? Shari from

  6. Haha I suppose like a snake dislocating it's jaw it could be easier? Though I doubt it! The physio work I had at the end of my last pregnancy helped me with the birth - meant I could get in to different positions without it feeling like my hip was dislocation. Might be worth a consult?

  7. Awesome to hear! I worry about mine turning in to a sadist as I get more muscle control heh.

  8. Mine's not the workout kind of pilates, it's rehab pilates, so very slow but lots of repetition. I would DIE in a normal class!!! You go, girl :D

  9. OMG now I have "Informer" running through my head! Thanks ;) Hope you're on a pain free weekend bender (no pun intended - you know about bending and Pilates!)

  10. LOL I geddit :) A licky boom boom bam.


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