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Kat & Penny

“PARs Defect (fracture of spine)

2006 was a summer of playing lots of tennis tournaments, many matches back-to-back. Kat’s serve was poor as her tennis coach had radically changed it but left suddenly to work abroad leaving her without the finished product. He kept promising to return, but never did. So we kept waiting for the next instalment of her serve that never arrived. Consequently Kat’s back started aching. It first started during a tournament in the September, so we rested it, but it kept recurring.Eventually we heeded the advice of her new tennis coach and went to see a tennis-specialist physio. She diagnosed it was Kat’s quadratus lumborum and Kat needed to do some stretching. So Kat did her stretches and we went religiously to see (and pay) the physio – taking Kat out of school to accommodate the physio’s part-time work hours.The back still kept playing up, sometimes worse than others. We never knew when it was going to go, but always during tennis. We would rest it until it felt better each time.Kat’s school tennis team had made the national finals of a tennis competition and she was desperate to be fit to play, so we heeded the physio’s advice and turned down other important tennis commitments. We still kept up with the exercises and physio appointments. The national finals were in December and Kat’s back went really badly during the warm-up of her second match. She had to retire from a match she could have easily won.She was in so much pain I had to help her undress and shower that evening. The next day it had improved enough for her to play tentatively and serve underarm. I received a phone call to say the MRI was also ‘inconclusive’ and Kat should have a CT scan. They squeezed her in before our holiday and the consultant telephoned me later (after my begging) to tell me Kat had a Pars Defect (stress fracture) on her spine. It was at L5 and the other side was showing signs of stress. If that went also she would be in big trouble. She must rest it completely and go for a follow-up appointment after our holiday.
I was very annoyed at the physio for not picking this up as tennis was her speciality and she had pictures of her at Grand Slams, treating the very top female players. You would have expected her to have ‘a lightbulb moment’ at some point! What a waste of time and money and we had been further endangering Kat’s back. We were now six month’s down the line from the first occurrence of back pain.

I already knew Jo Rainsley through exercise classes at the West Hants Club and was aware that she had a comprehensive knowledge of the human body and its workings, so I asked her for advice as to where I might find help. Jo offered to look at Kat and did a lot of her own investigations into Kat’s injury.Jo sent us to another physio to get Kat checked over first. She liaised with Jo about the way forward with Kat and advised us to get Kat moving (especially cycling!)Jo then took Kat on board and set her exercises on a weekly basis and we finally made progress.We now realise that if she had just rested her back as advised by the hospital, it would have fractured again eventually, and possibly worse. Then Jo went on a course about biomechanics and the world changed. She came back so eager to review Kat’s biomechanics, giving her a thorough examination, making lots of notes and filling in charts. It was definitely a ‘Eureka’ moment for Jo. She gave Kat a lot of exercises to do, some as often as three times a day. We would get up early (not easy for Kat) and she would do them before school, after school and before bedtime. I would supervise, making sure she was doing then correctly, count repetitions and time her. She also had to finish PE at school early each time to do her stretches. But it paid off. We never doubted Jo – she was so sure and confident in what she was doing. Over the months Jo re-assessed Kat regularly, monitoring progress and tailoring the exercises accordingly. The improvements in Kat’s mobility were amazing. Kat went back to tennis and still sees Jo. Kat is still growing and Jo keeps an eye on her, regularly checking that everything is working as it should be. Often there are things that need tweaking, sometimes more severe than others. Sometimes it is bad enough to warrant a ban on specific sports until it improves. Kat still has varying exercises to do. Without Jo we would have been floundering in the dark, desperate for help.Kat’s back could have ended up with a permanent injury or needing major surgery. What a legacy that would have been, all for the want of an accurate appraisal and correct advice and help.I would urge everyone to have a biomechanical check-up.It is frightening how much can go badly wrong without you knowing that you simply need to do a few uncomplicated exercises.”

Kat & Penny Bournemouth

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