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Our inspiring cyclists who have done us proud!

Posted by Madeleine Speed, the Pelvic Partnership, August 2016

For this Pelvic Partnership blog, we would like to thank Trish Hardy and Mark McLauchlin for riding for us in this year's Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 event.

This is reputedly the largest festival of cycling in the world with more than 100,000 participants uniting to cover more than three million miles during the last weekend of July 2016.

Of the various cycling events during the weekend, our riders -Trish and Mark - took part in The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday 31 July 2016. They were joined by more than 26,000 amateur cyclists who followed a route free from traffic around some stunning and famous landmarks in London. They rode out into the spectacular countryside of Surrey before returning back into London to finish in style - coming up The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

Every one of those involved in that cycling event on the Sunday would have had their reasons for taking part. Trish and Mark were both moved to get involved independently for very personal reasons linked to their family experiences of Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). These roused them to take action by fundraising for the Pelvic Partnership charity. Their involvement is as inspirational as their respective stories.

Trish August blog 2016Trish

Trish originally got in touch with the Pelvic Partnership earlier this year after her son Luke's girlfriend, Maisy, developed PGP while pregnant with their baby, Max. Trish was concerned about the reduced mobility and the severity of pain that Maisy was experiencing as the pregnancy progressed, particularly as she was otherwise young, fit and healthy.

"It was so frustrating to watch Maisy struggle and to know she was in constant pain with little acknowledgement or recognition from healthcare professionals. I was so relieved to find out about the Pelvic Partnership and speak to a volunteer on their helpline," said Trish.

"I found out that manual therapy from an experienced physiotherapist can successfully treat the symptoms." Trish said she also learnt that without specialist help and treatment as soon as the PGP symptoms start, the condition won't get better and in many cases can get much worse during and after pregnancy.

When she found out that the Pelvic Partnership was looking for cyclists to take part in Prudential RideLondon - Surrey 100 to raise sponsorship, Trish knew immediately that she wanted to get involved. She said that “it felt such a good way to do something constructive for the charity and to help raise awareness of PGP."

For Trish, the drama of cycling on the day was nothing compared with the dramatic journey that Maisy and her baby were making towards the day of his arrival. To add to the tension, Maisy went into labour and it looked liked baby Max would make an appearance on the actual day of the RideLondon cycling event!

"I really thought I wouldn't be able to do it, not because of the strenuous cycle but because I would get a call during the event to say that Maisy had given birth." Trish explained how odd it felt to be riding through London in sunshine amid all the cyclists and the excitement but to be so pre-occupied by events off stage.

Trish was receiving regular reports via her mobile about how dilated Maisy was and how the labour was going, so she was very aware that at any minute she might have to peel off the route to prepare to go down to Kent to be with the Maisy and Luke.

"It was quite an experience," Trish confided. Updates on how the labour was progressing were in a way, driving her on. “I was determined to get to the finish as quickly as possible so I could travel down to be with them!"

Trish and baby Max

To add to the tension, there were various hold ups and delays as stewards intervened to set up diversions and help cyclists involved in accidents. In all the ride took 7.5 hours but Trish explained that “this was only my guess as the official system was unable to clock our individual timings accurately."

Amazingly, baby Max must have known how important the cycling event was to Trish (and the Pelvic Partnership) because he delayed his appearance until the very next day!

The Pelvic Partnership team want to send our congratulations and best wishes to Trish, Maisy, baby Max and Luke as well as our thanks to Trish for seeing the challenge through to the end and raising a magnificent £700, including Gift Aid. Thank you for such a wonderful result!

Mark RideLondon blogMark

Mark saw an advertisement on our website for taking part in Prudential RideLondon and it struck a chord. Mark is an Army musician who recently moved to Kingston-Upon-Thames with his wife, Rachael, and children Anna, who is six, and Oliver, who is four. Similar to Trish's motivation, Mark had experience of watching how crippling PGP could be for Rachael. She had pronounced symptoms when expecting their eldest, Anna, and they also made an unwelcome appearance now that Rachael was expecting their third baby.

Mark explained how heart-breaking it was to see Rachael in such difficulties with PGP when she could be really enjoying the pregnancy.

"It affects almost everything in day-to-day life from walking, to sitting, driving to sleeping"; said Mark. He feels that it is a condition that surprisingly few seem to know about despite it actually being so common in some shape or form during pregnancy. He wanted his participation in RideLondon to help other families in a similar situation and to provide funds so the work of the Pelvic Partnership can continue.

To keep fit and to help with his commute into work, Mark had bought a cycle before he saw the request for riders to raise sponsorship for the Pelvic Partnership. When he spotted it, Mark felt it was just the challenge he needed to drive his ambitions for fitness while resulting in a range of benefits.

Mark explained that it was a privilege to take part in the day which, together with all the training, proves that he has definitely "caught the cycling bug" which is now ongoing. He also found the day an exhilarating and uplifting experience with everyone uniting to rise to a physical challenge capable of raising some money for important charities.

"My 'official' finish time was 7:46:54 however I was held up behind a crash at Pyrford for around an hour and a half. The app on my phone had me at a total of 6:13:38 of actual cycling time. Mark explained that "to have the roads of London closed for cycling was an awesome feeling of freedom. The whole family came to meet me at the finish line and it was an incredible feeling to finish on The Mall."

Mark RideLondon blog 2

To heighten the intensity of the day, the members of the family who congratulated Mark on the finishing line included Rachael and Mark's new baby girl, Isla. And Mark's story also has an element of dramatic irony because some 20 hours after he cycled to a finish on The Mall, he was back there again but this time in his role within the army and taking part in the Changing of the Guard!

Congratulations to the McLauchlin family on the arrival of their new baby and many thanks to Mark for raising a splendid total sum of £797.50 including Gift Aid. Really inspirational!

Feeling inspired?

The achievements of both Trish and Mark are amazing both on a personal level and in their contribution to the work of the Pelvic Partnership. If you have been motivated and encouraged to take up the challenge of being a cyclist for the Pelvic Partnership in the 2017 Prudential RideLondon - Surrey 100 event, please get in touch and tell us of your intentions before you change your mind! We can tell you more about what is involved and provide further details. Visit our Prudential RideLondon web page: www.pelvicpartnership.org.uk/get-involved/ridelondon-surrey-100 for more information or email our co-ordinator, Lucy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How do you find good information?

A Norwegian qualitative study and the importance of self-help

Posted by Madeleine Speed, the Pelvic Partnership, July 2016

shoppingWhen we are looking for more information about a health problem, we probably go straight to the web and start surfing. There are all kinds of websites offering healthcare information and it's become something of a cliché that if you experience uncomfortable or painful symptoms, you can probably find evidence from these websites to support any number of debilitating and possibly life-threatening conditions you might have to mirror your symptoms.

Although there's an element of truth in this cliché, it shouldn't blind us to the huge potential of using the Internet to increase our knowledge of health-related subjects. The Internet is one of the fastest growing information resources and it is also relatively low-cost. Although self-diagnosis can be a dangerous game, there are benefits of finding out more about our health and wellbeing by looking at reputable websites such as NHS Choices, Patient or key charities (such as BHF and Cancer Research UK). Raising awareness of a particular condition by reading up about it can help us to feel much more informed and less panic stricken ahead of going to see the GP for a diagnosis and course of treatment. You can also feel much more aware of standard procedures and what to expect when you are sitting waiting for your appointment.

A recent study in Norway found that web-based discussion forums among pregnant women are very popular. The study revealed that this group of women look to additional sources of information and support to supplement traditional visits to healthcare professionals. The study suggests that women who use such web-based sources of information and support increase their ability to take better health decisions for themselves by increasing their knowledge and understanding.

The Pelvic Partnership recognises how empowering it can be to find out information about a health condition or ongoing health concern. Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), for example, is often (wrongly) regarded as 'being caused by hormones' and something which 'will go away as soon as the baby comes'. A quick look at the Pelvic Partnership website shows some classic examples of PGP symptoms as well as the true, biomechanical cause of the condition. So, in a short time, it is very easy for a reader to see some of the typical misconceptions of PGP (if you will excuse the pun) as well as the real causes of the pain and discomfort associated with it.

SPD logo 4col smallWe purposely populated the charity website with a vast amount of information. This runs contrary to the approach of many websites where the thinking is: that we are all so busy and have limited time available for sourcing information that it must be in manageable, bite-sized amounts. We took a different approach. When we last refreshed the website and increased the amount of information within it, it was to help relieve the pressure on our telephone helpline. This pragmatic step helped us to make our helpline enquiries more manageable. However, it also enabled us to encourage women to find out as much as possible for themselves about pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) by encouraging readers to look at the menu on our website and sift through a wealth of practical information, facts about the symptoms of PGP. Readers may want to have access to a quick overview but those who want to look for more detail can drill down to find out much more about PGP, its symptoms and how to look for suitable treatment.. 

Of course there are dangers for individuals who want to take up the offer of becoming better informed. As we have probably all found, it is very easy to come across poor or misleading information which is purporting to be fact. For those who are struggling to find support and answers to their situation, it is easy to become vulnerable to false leads and speculation masquerading as truth. It is important to keep an open mind but also to guard against being taken in by improbable and questionable information (by cross referencing, asking professionals, checking out purported facts).

Thankfully, it is possible to come across well intentioned and very useful information by looking at well respected websites such as those for dedicated charities. We think it is worth increasing your knowledge of a given health subject particularly if it is linked to following up this self-help approach by asking your health visitor, nurse or GP for a highly personal assessment of your own situation.

The Pelvic Partnership's website gives a vast amount of information about PGP and how to manage it. We have taken the stance that it is better to encourage free and open access to information and we actively search for new, evidence based studies about PGP and the latest examples of best practice in how to treat it successfully.

Self help can be a very liberating and powerful tool which helps to promote self-reliance and responsibility for our health and wellbeing. It can also motivate us to take suitable action such as finding a good healthcare professional and the treatment we need. So why not spend a few minutes now looking at our website and seeing if you can spot new information that you haven't seen before?

If you are familiar with our website (or you have just visited it) and you have found the information about PGP useful, please consider making a donation to us so we can continue with our work. This can be done easily by clicking here and completing our on-line donation form; all donations are very much appreciated and will help us to continue providing information and support for women with PGP, their families and the healthcare professionals caring for them.

Charity Registered in England: 1100373                                           © Copyright Pelvic Partnership 2017
Please note, the Pelvic Partnership consists of volunteers who have had Pelvic Girdle Pain and wish to support other women. We aim to pass on information based on research evidence where available. We are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice. The Pelvic Partnership takes no responsibility for any action you do or do not take as a result of reading this information.
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