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Motion Forword - Words of a Therapist - No11



Welcome to Motion Forword - Words of a Therapist! Number 11! 




Motion Forword is about discussing the combined benefits of movement with a positive mental attitude. Using my personal/professional experiences, evidence-based research and some of your own experiences. 


Bringing some hope, positivity, happiness and maybe usefulness to those, perhaps like yourself, that needs a pick me up. 


Something about me - A very Active/Busy May 


May has been a very busy month! I’ve enjoyed a trip to Jersey to see a dear friend and his growing family. Enjoying the Jersey boat show (I am a little way off from affording the £1.8mil yachts they had up for sale), a round of crazy golf with a 7 month old (surprisingly tricky!) and getting to be a passenger on his Honda.





The following weekend was a long weekend in Lisbon for a stag do! It was beautiful weather with a great bunch of people. With many fun antics including games we made up (Floor, Wall, Person or FWP for short, Hoop and Ball and a whole new drinking game which I cannot share the name of on a public platform!) We also went coasteering which was a lot of fun! If you like climbing and jumping off of high things into water… this is for you! 


Next up was seeing Newton Faulkner gig in Southampton. I have loved his music since I was at Uni and it was amazing and emotional to see him live! He was a super entertainer, really got the audience involved and was really funny too. 



Lastly, a bank holiday weekend in Cornwall grabbing some surf. (Told you I’d be surfing more!) Unfortunately, the weather was really awful. Even for the most seasoned campers, the wind was bitterly cold. But we still got in a cycle along the Camel trail to Padstow (and back in the rain), a BBQ and a dance (in the rain) and some sun worshiping (in the wind). But at least we got in some surf on the final day when the weather held up just enough! 






A story - No one is immune to Back Pain


A 34 year old male had pain going into his right thigh and knee. He couldn’t walk more than 10 meters before his pain would start. Even standing to do the washing up was seriously painful and forced him to sit down. 


He would have to bend over and to the left side to relieve the pain. He has a long history of lower back pain which has been managed but this hadn’t happened before however he did have some hip flexor pains in the same leg for some months prior. 


He is active having many hobbies and has an active job but the pain was getting in the way of these activities. He has been taking ibuprofen and co-codamol with no major relief and has never used these medications before. 


It has been 5 weeks since he had to completely stop doing all his activities - gym, salsa, acroyoga and hockey - but he is feeling more normal, can walk further without pain and doesn’t need to reach for the painkillers. You may have realised… This person,... is me. 


Here is a picture of the total steps tracked each week in the last 2 and half months. The dates between the 25th April and the 1st May show a clear drop in my step count when the pain really kicked in. Halfing from the previous week and a stark contrast to the weeks prior to that. 




I thought I would compare a most recent week to the terrible week of the 25th Apr - 1st May. 


What I am trying to show here is that in 3 weeks I was showing signs of improvement in the amount of steps I could tolerate. I know the pain was still affecting me but it was starting to settle. And as you can see from my most recent completed week (23rd - 29th May) my total steps tracked has pretty much normalised. 




I wanted to share my experience with this type of pain. I’ve never had it like this before and I always consider when these things happen as a learning opportunity. 


Here is what I learnt:

  1. The pain came on seemingly from nowhere but if I played close enough attention I could tell this had come on gradually over time in the last few months. 27th March when I went for a long walk was particularly noticeable.

  2. My brain plays tricks on me - 

  3. I started wondering ‘Is it because of my shoes?’, ‘Is it the way I shower?’, ‘Is it because I have a disc problem?’ 

  4. The difficulty is it could be all and none of these things. Chances are that focusing on any one thing wasn’t going to help.

  5. I got help from other Osteopaths and friends who gave me advice and treatment. It isn’t an immediate fix but a process and a means of support. Giving me something to work on and being accountable for.


  1. Stopping all my activities was a difficult but sensible decision. I decided that all these activities were physically stressing my body too much and I needed a break from them as much as I miss them. However I tried to keep other things as normal as possible i.e. work, doing the shopping, seeing friends/family. But I limited any significant walking distance as that was the major aggravating factor. I stopped poking the bear.

  2. But it didn’t stop me, entirely. There were times that the pain was so bad that it physically stopped me in my tracks. But as you read in my ‘something about me’ section above, I still did things and I made really fond memories. I don’t remember the specifics of the pain necessarily (although walking around the airport was tough!) because I was busy with activities and seeing friends. Distraction can be a powerful painkiller. 


  1. For me, whilst walking, leaning forward and to my non-painful left side gave me relief. So I was often walking around either hunched over my friend’s baby’s pushchair, leaning heavily onto my suitcase or just unapologetically walking around like Quasimodo. The point is, I may have looked weird, but I was more interested in looking after my back than looking ‘normal’. 






So I hope my story of horrendous back pain gives you some reassurance that no matter how bad things feel, it can get better with patience and perseverance. 




Something for you - Pain doesn’t Equal Damage


So I can honestly say that over the last 5 weeks, this has been the worst consistent pain I’ve experienced in my life and it really made my head spin with all the possible outcomes. 


Will I be able to continue to work? Will I ever be able to play hockey again? Will I need an MRI? Will I need surgery? Should I do things differently? Will it ever get better? But I had to keep reminding myself (and my friends and family) that it will get better if I do the right things. I.e. stop poking the bear. It is really easy to assume that with such pain the worst must be happening. But I lost count how many times I tell people: 1. Pain doesn’t necessarily equal damage AND 2. Pain levels do not correlate well with damage levels. 


My best examples of each of these points are: 1. Touching a hot stove and recoiling. You feel the pain, but your reflex protects you and you don’t actually have a burn. Or you might hit yourself really hard but there isn’t a big black bruise to show for it. 


2. A bee sting, an ant bite, a paper cut, squeezing a spot that makes your eyes water - all very small in terms of ‘damage’ but REALLY painful! 





These two points I would keep coming back to in my own head over the 5 weeks I’ve been recovering from this.


The pain was horrendous at times, but it was more of a warning, a reminder to put on the brakes and slow down. Take a break. Look after myself. The pain didn’t necessarily mean damage. And any damage I had sustained was most likely small and would be undetectable by a scan, like a paper cut on my spine. 



Thanks for reading.


Until next month… Motion Forword ⏩⏩ Nathan



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