What is your current position?
Physiotherapist (Musculoskeletal & Women’s Health) , Women’s Health Coach (Nutrition, NLP) , Pilates Instructor and founder of The Pelvic Expert
What led you into women's health physio?
It all started with my own personal journey with chronic pelvic pain.
I initially started out as in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. In my first year out of university I had a pretty traumatic injury to my pelvis. I was pretty much out of work for a year just rehabilitating my sacro-iliac joint dysfunction after they discovered tears in my gluteals (yes I know how rare that is!) and my hamstrings and tendonitis of my hip flexors and adductors and iliopectineal bursitis (bet you never heard of that before).
I was able to start work again but had a lot of nerve pain in my pelvis and down my legs. I went on to specialise in musculoskeletal treatment of the spine and pelvis, but found it incredibly difficult to work in manual therapy with my pain and my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a joint hypermobility condition).
There had to be something I could do that wouldn’t flare me up – so I looked into women’s health. I started out treating incontinence and weak pelvic floors. And then I started to think there must be something in women’s health that could help me with my pelvic pain, so I studied further and lo and behold, all those pelvic floor strength exercises my musculoskeletal physiotherapist had made me do were actually making me worse! That’s when I became passionate about overactive pelvic floors.
I also have a background of endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS and IBS, which doesn’t particularly help my pelvic pain. I knew physiotherapy wasn’t enough, so I trained up in nutrition, pain neurophysiology, and NLP to help provide a more holistic approach to women’s health.
What do you enjoy the most about it?
Women come into my office after having seen multiple specialists and therapists. They’re about ready to give up. They think it’s all in their head.
I love being able to educate, inspire and empower women to take back their health. I love being able to tell them that they don’t have to live with it and then working side by side with them to overcome their problems and lead healthier lives. I love the complex cases that are new and challenging
Do you have a specific area of specialty or interest within women's health?
I love all things women’s health and have up-skilled in everything from incontinence to prolapse (including pessary fitting) to constipation to preconception and pregnancy.
But absolutely my passion is pelvic and genital pain. And more so the chronic complex and pathological conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia. I love addressing these with a holistic approach.
Describe an average 'day at the office'
Well, I’m an early bird (as are most of my clients) so my first patient is usually at 7 or 7:30AM. I’m usually the first one there even before my admin staff.
I spend minimum 30 minutes with each client, and am usually back to back with clients right up until 3PM (no running late in the CBD!)
I have a short lunch break at 11:30AM. On Wednesday I run a 60 minute inservice, training the other physios in women’s health and case conferencing with their complex clients.
The average day usually does have some tears, lots of hugs, and definitely a lot of learning.
Name an area of research you would like to see done in women's/men's/pelvic floor health?
Well you know it’s got to be about pelvic pain
I would love to do some research on the relationship between joint hypermobility and painful sex. I’ve seen so many clients with posterior fornix syndrome who also have laxity in their SIJs and I wonder if the lax ligaments around the pelvic organs lead to increased risk of vulvodynia and dyspareunia.
What is one thing you would like to say to someone who is considering taking that step and making an appointment with their local women's health physiotherapist?
Just give us a call or email and ask us whatever you want. We will answer you thoroughly and considerately. It’s totally ok to feel a bit hesitant about seeking help and it is extremely common for women to go on without getting help, but just know that you can. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much a women’s health physio knows and how much she can help you. And I guarantee you that you will see results and will feel comfortable with your physio once you get started.
What is an aspect of women's/men's health that gives you job satisfaction?
Just knowing that I have made a difference in women’s lives is enough. There’s never a day I dread going to work when I think of my clients and how far they’ve come.
I have a vision to provide world class women’s health education to women all over the world. And I want it to be accessible so I have set up online programs via my second identity The Pelvic Expert. If you want to know more just head over to my page.
A FEW FUN QUESTIONS SO WE CAN GET TO KNOW YOU BETTER
Cats or Dogs? Cats....but I am allergic. I would love to get myself a Siberian!
Beach or Bush? Beach definitely. Nothing like the serenity of white sand and clear water.
Coffee or Tea? I love the smell of coffee but I definitely am a tea-drinker. Especially Chai teas and herbal teas. I have a whole corner in my kitchen just for all the different teas. Peppermint for digestion. Chamomile for sleep. English Breakfast for less inflammation.
Full cream or skim? Neither. My gut and dairy don’t see eye to eye. I do have nut milk, rice milk and coconut milk though. But health wise full cream milk all the way for its healthy fats!
Fruit or veg? Definitely vegetables. So much nutrition. Plus IBS and fructose aren’t exactly friends either
Home cooked or Restaurant? Home-cooked for sure, unless it’s something organic, paleo or vegan.
Camping or 5 star? Haha take one look at me! There’s no way I could ever survive camping..unless it was a 5-star cabin!
Your name and qualifications
Hebatullah ( Heba) Shaheed B.App.Sci (Physiotherapy)
You can find out more about Heba and where she works at:
The Fix Program
The Pelvic Expert