In late September last year I injured my back after a long weekend full of exuberant DIY. I didn’t know I’d injured it at the time – there was no spasm, or any pain other than what seemed like regular muscle pain from a weekend of hard work. It was twingey on Monday, gaining to very sore by Tuesday, increasing in pain to the point that I ended up with a recommended local osteopath (the fantastic Lynn Bennett) and at my doctors.

The (locum) doctor gave me lots of strong painkillers and (essentially) told me to go away for twelve weeks. Lynn, the osteopath, was much more helpful, and in addition to diagnosing me as hypermobile, gave me “adjustments” that eased the pain on a temporary basis. Over a number of weeks, seeing Lynn helped reduce my pain considerably, though due to my hypermobility her adjustments wouldn’t fully “stick” particularly long – my back would just adjust itself back to being sore within a day or so, sometimes less. Lynn explained with my kind of back and this type of problem that it would probably take quite a bit of time for it to fully settle down. For a long-term solution, she suggested that I go to Pilates classes to help strengthen my core, which would then support and stabilise my back and reduce the pain and the chance of the pain returning.

Well, I hummed, and hawed about it. I’d been to a Pilates class once before (courtesy of a curious friend). I had not enjoyed the Pilates class. It felt a bit like Yoga (which I like), without any of the calmness, bendiness or precision (which I also like). Additionally, it seemed like my back was settling down and slowly getting back to normal with her treatments so I put the Pilates classes off and mentally marked them as a “maybe”.

Fast-forward to January, when my back went into an incredibly painful spasm while I was at home. I had to take several days off work. I went back to the doctors and was given more painkillers, my hypermobile diagnosis was confirmed by them, and I was given a note excusing me from my up-and-coming jury duty.

All and all it was not – in any way – a good experience.

What it did do, however, was make up my mind about trying a Pilates class. Anything, anything, would be better than going through that pain again. I asked around and a former student suggested I try Bea Alexander Pilates. After going onto her waiting list (she is REALLY popular), I managed to get into a beginners class. I explained to Bea about my injury & hypermobility, and have found her to be an exceptionally anatomically knowledgeable teacher, as well as an excellent and clear instructor.

My back pain hasn’t gone completely, and some days it flares back up again, but it has definitely reduced. And I also now have exercises I can do at home or work that help alleviate the pain, so things are looking up.

Prior to all this happening I was looking forward to learning ATS with Susan Tonner at Drummond High School. I managed most of her fantastic classes in the Sept-Dec term (with my osteo’s blessing I might add), and had planned to go back in January, but with my very limited time I had to choose between that class and attending Pilates. Pain made the decision for me.

It’s frustrating to not be able to make my choices based on desire rather than necessity, particularly when it comes to what exercise I choose (a realm I’m used to having choice in). Trying to get used to not being fully able-bodied (hopefully temporarily) is difficult and frustrating. Still, I’m hoping I will emerge from the other side of this with a pain-free back and a strong core, which will hopefully positively impact on my dancing too.

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