Suite 401, Gateway Hospital Medical Centre, 36 Aurora Drive, Umhlanga Ridge 031 566 5959

Journey from Pain to Wellbeing

I’m handing over the reigns of this article to a client who has an inspiring story to share. Physio has always helped with her niggles. However, a while later she would inevitably need to come in again. During the lockdown of 2020, I suggested a different path to overcome her aches and pains. The suggestion: online movement and pain management coaching.  This is her story.

My name is Sandra, I am fifty-eight years young and today I am enjoying life.  I want to share with you the journey I’ve been on for the past 10 months. A journey that has taken me from pain to a place of wellbeing.

I’m going to provide you with context and a first-hand glimpse into my life before and after starting movement coaching. Irrespective of your age, I believe the same principles will apply if you battle with physical pain. My hope is that my story will inspire you and get you started on your journey too.

pain to wellbeing picture of Sandra

Let’s start at the beginning

I have always been a reasonably active individual. I love and enjoy dancing, running and swimming. In the last few years, particularly when I entered Menopause, I stopped enjoying these activities as much. The  changes in my body became significantly noticeable and hindered me.  It is amazing, how almost overnight I didn’t really recognise the body that I had always enjoyed.

It started with a creeping up of weight, not really too much but certainly enough to move me one size up in my clothing (very depressing…. ☹).  But the more fundamental change was this migration to a state of pain.

state of pain

My right hip became a challenge after years of managing daily running.  It got progressively more debilitating to the point that doing a short walk of 1-2 kms became very difficult.  Naturally, due to the pain, I stopped doing almost all exercise. This resulted in loss of muscle conditioning. Which then led to poor skeletal support and eventually more pain and inflammation. In the end I felt pain in my back, hips, knees, neck and shoulders.

I tried to sort all these ailments out, with frequent visits to the physio as well as by joining a reputable Pilates studio. Unfortunately, the latter resulted in more excruciating pain. The exercise wasn’t bad but it was beyond what my muscles could cope with in their de-conditioned state. Hands-on physio provided relief but it was never long-lived.

A catalyst for change

This prompted me to a defining visit to the hip specialist surgeon, where we discussed a hip replacement of my right hip!!  This was my eureka moment.  A very frightening prospect for me as 1) I don’t like operations and all that goes with it, 2) I suffer from chronic allergies to a number of medications, including anti-inflammatories. The prospect of an allergic reaction to anything related to the operation or the hip replacement, was enough motivation to have me reassess my options.

And so, in January 2020 I made a decision – to begin a journey of what I called “Getting strong and fit for old age”. To ensure that I don’t end up a debilitated old woman who will be dependent on frail care from others.  I am a ferociously independent business woman, and the thought of not being able to be me in the future was very frightening indeed.

I needed to move from being dependent on ongoing physio intervention, which as much of a great job my team of physios do, we were only dealing with the symptoms, but need to move to developing body strength to ensure good muscle tone and bone density to sustain me during old age.

The journey begins

After some heart-to-heart discussions with my physiotherapist, Carmen de Lange, she kindly agreed to provide me with one-on-one “Movement Coaching”.  I needed accountability as well as guidance with better movement and progressively building strength and ability.

pain to wellbeing coachin

The brief was to steadily build up strength and understand how to use movement to relieve pain. We started with the basics and built up to the next level so that I would be able to perform normal functions, such as getting up from sitting on the floor, doing gardening without causing injury to my back, being able to sit at my desk and working on my computer for extended periods without developing back pain and shoulder/neck pain. And ultimately to BE STRONG AND FIT FOR OLD AGE!

How does it work?

Firstly, I perform all this activity from the comfort of my own home.  I opted for 3 sessions per week, each lasting from 30-45 minutes. I acquired some basic equipment (yoga mat, a resistance band, 2x 1kg dumbbell weights, 1x 2kg kettlebell weight and a soft ball) but Carmen assures me you can start with what is lying around at home like  a towel, cans and bottles.

pain to wellbeing Sandra's set up

The sessions are via Zoom (COVID dictated), where she both demonstrates what I need to do, carefully observes how I am doing it and corrects me if posture and muscle activation are not as expected.

Most importantly if I experience any pain at all whilst doing the exercises, she adjusts them or teaches me better muscle activation.  This is the most significant benefit that I personally derive from this level of engagement – to ensure I don’t injure myself. In addition, I can take my “gym” anywhere.  During the festive season we relocated to our holiday home, and both Carmen and my gym came with me 😊.  We have continued all our sessions uninterrupted!

Results so far

I have started 2021 as a very different person from where I was at the start of 2020. I am feeling motivated and excited about the future of my physical health. I am mostly free of pain and when I do experience pain in my day, I now have a set of “tools” and an understanding of how to manage it. My body has changed. It is showing some very nice muscle tone and definition and is significantly more able to do what I want it to. Both gardening and walking are once again a joy.

I have improved so much that I have needed to add to my equipment (1x 4kg kettlebell, 2x 3kg dumbbells, 2x.5kg ankle weights).

pain to wellbeing exercise equipment for online coaching

I am able to exercise with a higher level of resistance and weight and the addition creates versatility to what we can do in a session.  I’m looking forward to another year of great exercise and continuous improvement. I can’t wait to see what more my body can achieve by 2022 when I turn 60. My plan to “GET STRONG AND FIT FOR OLD AGE” is well on track. I will be stronger and younger at 60 than I was at 50.

What are you waiting for?

I strongly recommend this approach as a way to develop good mobility and a pain-free body as the long-term solution to dealing with pain, injury and muscle weakness.  I also unreservedly recommend Carmen as a Movement Coach.  She is extremely knowledgeable in terms of physiological composition and function, what causes pain and most importantly how to deal with/ resolve the pain.  She is also an extremely compassionate, approachable and just lovely person to work with.

pain to wellbeing make things happen post it

I hope that my story has encouraged you and  given hope for a better quality of life.  If you would like to chat to me more about my journey and experience, please contact Carmen who will gladly facilitate an introduction.

A word from Carmen

Helping people overcome and manage their persistent pain requires progressive loading through exercise, learning to activate dormant muscles as well as learning how pain works and how to manage it. All of the research points to this. My biggest frustration as a physiotherapist is that this isn’t happening enough and so people aren’t getting better. Instead, they get frustrated and stop believing that physio can help or simply come back for regular fixes. Hands-on physio helps but it has long been seen as the main event whereas it should rather be a helper to get the show on the road.

It is hard to change the belief that hands-on treatment is superior to the right exercise and education. But the proof is in the pudding as they say and I am very grateful to Sandra for allowing me the grace and time to prove to her that this method is superior to what she was accustomed to. Sandra also knew her limits. She knew she needed the support of a coach rather than a rehab programme she follows on her own. And the online platforms have made this so much easier to provide the coaching than before.

If you can see yourself in this story and feel you would benefit from more from support than a regular self-paced rehab programme, perhaps movement coaching is your answer. Perhaps you just need someone in your corner to motivate you, keep you accountable and provide you with regular guidance.

If you would like to find out more or know of someone that may be interested, send an email to and let’s see where and how I can help you.

P.S. This is a service provided by PhysiLogic, online physical wellness education which is the educational wing of CDLPhysio. 


Leave a Comment