“Ahhhh,” my four year old daughter groaned as she sat down on the couch.
“What’s wrong?” I asked perplexed as to why she was making the noise of an 80 year old woman. “My back,” she replied clutching her lower back with a facial expression that was as if she was in the world of pain. I realized she was imitating me. It was my groan she was making, my frequent remarks about my back pain she was referencing and then it dawned on me like a miserable, dark and gloomy morning, I was the 80 year old woman. Or at least my behaviour resembled that of one and I wasn’t even halfway to 80!
The groans, the comments, the clutching of my back were all real, they weren’t exaggerated, it hurt, all the time. Sometimes it was my lower back, sometimes it was my neck, sometimes my mid back. The pain was consistently there like a good friend. Just one I didn’t have time for. It stopped me from moving like I hadn’t that long ago moved, bending down and picking things up was painful, leaning over to wash my girls hair in the bath would hurt, general everyday tasks became too hard to complete or if I did, were not pleasant to say the least.
I wasn’t really sure as to what was wrong.
I visited many a medical professional- Chiropractors, a myofascial specialist, osteopath, acupuncturist, remedial masseuses. I tried about five different pillows (costing a small fortune), I made my husband rub my back every night (he was so impressed), I lathered myself with Dencorub, Tigerbalm, essential oils, heat packs, heat patches. I tried hot baths.
At work I asked for a new chair, then a standing desk (yep I am that sort of employee). I tried to not sit for too long without standing or going for a short walk. Sometimes it got a bit better temporarily but never for long enough that I could actually get some decent relief.
So out of desperation I decided to try something that wasn’t really ‘my thing’ - Pilates. I met with a physiotherapist for an initial consultation.
She examined me and told me that I had separated abdominal muscles (officially known as Diastasis Recti). This is quite a common side effect of pregnancy- during and post-partum caused by the stretching of the abdominal muscles to make room for your growing baby. In fact, it affects over 60% of women who have been or who are pregnant.
My separation was relatively small, just over three fingers (or three centimetres) but my physio *Georgina told me she has seen separation up to 13cm- that’s is nearly three hands!