Mairi's MovementWise Journey

#2: Hitting Rock Bottom

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I should say that the start of my journey was when I went to see the consultant about my sore hip, but that wasn’t the case. The start was actually three years later after a hip arthroscopy, a failed meniscus repair on my knee and then a second meniscus operation on the same knee.  By then I had gained a lot of weight. I couldn’t walk up a mountain, walk up or down stairs, carry the shopping in from the car, walk the dogs, lift my suitcase into an overhead locker on the plane and I certainly couldn’t ski. I was bent over looking at my feet, my shoulders ached, my neck ached, my migraines had returned, and I wore baggy dark clothes to hide my body. I had hit rock bottom.

Shattered Dreams

After three years and two operations, of being the model patient for my consultants and an even better patient for my physios, I felt I was on a treadmill – moving forward but going nowhere. I did and didn’t do exactly what I was told. I bought the equipment I was told to buy and I spent hours doing the stretches, the lunges, the foam rolling, the balancing, everything as advised. But I was still in pain. Every time I walked further than the car my knee would swell up. I tried to ski but within half an hour I had to be almost carried off the piste with crippling pain and swelling. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever be able to walk up to Lac Jovet and dip my toe into its glacier waters again and nor did I believe that I would be able to ski white powdery snow on a blue bird day with my husband and children. My wishes and hopes had shrunk. I was in a dark hole unable to see daylight. Why was I still living here in the beautiful French alps if I couldn’t enjoy any of it? The chalet was almost finished and I contemplated us selling it and moving back to Scotland.

I felt compelled to leave our mountain paradise

A Guiding Light

But then one day, quite by chance, I met Tania Cotton from Movementwise.  She must have seen the depth of my despair because she called me the day after my second knee operation in Glasgow, when I was sitting in my hospital bed in incredible pain and feeling like the world had ended. “I know how you feel, I have been there, but you will get better and you will be able to walk up those mountains again and by Christmas you will be able to ski. But you need the courage to do things differently.” Said Tania.

And so my Movementwise journey began.


Tania Cotton

Founder of MovementWise

There is nothing worse than seeing someone lose hope that they will ever feel good inside their bodies again.  And there is nothing more tragic than seeing someone make every effort to dig themselves out of this metaphorical ‘big black hole’ of pain and despair, only to fall deeper into it.

When we talk about ‘the body’ we cannot separate our physical body from our mind – both are inextricably linked.  Physical pain is an emotional experience and has behavioural consequences just as emotional pain has physical manifestations.

We are all the embodiment of our thoughts, feelings and emotions and how we feel and what we believe about our self and others affects our posture and movement habits.  How do you feel when life has let you down, when you are afraid, when you feel rock bottom?  Does your body feel diminished and small? Do you feel like curling up into a ball? What do you do to try and feel better? Do you have any ‘quick fixes’? Or ‘magic pills’? Comfort food, alcohol and drugs can be an easy go-to and often it starts small – beginning by simply taking a sleeping tablet or drinking a couple of glasses of wine?

In a spontaneous interview you can watch above, Mairi powerfully describes how she felt she felt shrivelled and invisible. In the pictures here you will see how when Mairi was rock bottom she could not bear for me to take photos of her. She did not want to be seen.  She did not feel her ‘self’.  I did not show Mairi these photos until 9 months later. They moved her to tears when she realised how far she had come and the reality of the slippery slope she had been down.  She had become old before her time and now she knew she looked and felt 10 years younger.

My body and my life collapsing

My body and my life collapsing

My bison's bump at the base of my neck

My bison’s bump at the base of my neck

When you feel rock bottom and you lose hope that life can be fun and fulfilling again, you need someone to believe in you, who can give you support and guide you forwards in the right direction.  Not someone to be nice to you, telling you ‘everything is going to be ok’ based on a wish and a whim.

I want you to benefit from my 25 years of professional experience, and to offer you 45 years of my personal experience. One of my core values is not just to ‘talk the talk’ but to ‘walk the walk’ and to practice what I preach.  Having had several injuries and a life changing accident, I know what it feels like to be in pain, to feel excluded from doing the things I love, and isolated from the people I want to engage with.  I have experienced what it feels like to move from taking the first painful steps with my crutches, to finding it challenging to climb the stairs or get onto a bus – to building up the physical and mental strength to climb mountains.  Whatever ‘mountain’ you want to climb, I want to show you not just how it’s possible to reach the top, but also how you can have fun along the way! Perhaps you want to build a house or build a business? Play a musical instrument or play with your children?

Our MovementWise definition of Performance is ‘how you do whatever you need to do or want to do in your life in a way that will enable you to thrive not just survive’.

For me to help you on your MovementWise Journey, there are 3 important questions I need to ask you:

  1. Are you Ready? Are you ready to take ownership and responsibility for your life and for me to act as your guide, to help you how I can and to build a team of experts around you?
  2. Do you have the courage to do things differently? Are you prepared to look at the big picture of your life and to explore what is preventing you from moving forwards in the direction you want to go? To try new things and new ways of doing things?
  3. Do we have the ability to work together towards meaningful, purposeful goals? Being a guide on someone’s journey is a big commitment.  For both of us. The most important ability is AVAILABILITY and this does not mean simply showing up, it means being truly present.

Mairi was ready, very ready! Are you?

25 years of working with people of all ages and activity levels has highlighted that most pain and disability is completely avoidable. I can show you how.

Meet Tania Cotton

Tania Cotton avatar

Tania Cotton is a Movement Analyst and Chartered Physiotherapist with over 25 years' experience helping people overcome pain, injury and disease to lead a happy and fulfilling life. After 12 years as a consultant for the Swiss Olympic Medical Centre in Geneva, Tania began making films on health and human performance to show people what is possible and to inspire them to take action.

MovementWise - Empowering You to LIVE Your Best Life