Although two-time Olympic gold medallist swimmer Rebecca Adlington endured years of pain during her bid for sporting glory, nothing, she reveals, prepared her for what she endured following an accident on Channel Four's challenging winter sports reality show, The Jump.
"I've never suffered pain like that - it was worse than childbirth," says the 27-year-old, who's still recovering after she lost control hurtling off an icy 100 metre slope at more than 30mph while practising an air jump.
She dislocated her shoulder so badly she required an operation two weeks ago, and she's one of six celebrities forced to quit the show because of injury.
"I lost my balance and flung my arm out awkwardly to right myself as I sailed through the air,which dislocated my shoulder. Landing on it made it worse," explains Adlington wincing at the memory of what she went through.
"It was such an unlucky, fluke accident, but I have a lot of mobility in my shoulders due to years of swimming, so they're my vulnerable point. It still makes me feel funny thinking about that pain. The medics rushed up immediately to try and push the joint back into place and couldn't. I had to have gas to help me cope with the excruciating agony I went through until I could get to the hospital and have it done there," she says.
"Later, an MRI scan revealed damage around the joint and two weeks ago I had surgery to repair it and ensure the shoulder stays in place."
She's still wearing a sling, cannot lift her eight-month-old daughter, Summer, or drive, and will need six weeks physiotherapy before she's fully fit again.
Nothing, however, will stop Rebecca, who lives in Manchester with her husband, former swimmer, Harry Needs, 24, heading back to Austria this week for The Jump final on Sunday (March 6), even though she'll miss Mother's Day with their little girl.
"Harry's sending video and pictures on the day, so I don't miss out completely. I just have to be there with everyone for the end because we've all become such friends and I was so upset at having to pull out," she explains.
"I don't regret taking part at all because I love challenging myself and learning new skills and I'm determined to ski again one day. This hasn't put me off testing myself either - I'm used, as an athlete, to overcoming blows like injury - so I'd happily compete on another show like this if the opportunity came up. I think all those injuries on this year's series have just been down to bad luck because professionals on the show are so careful and conscientious about keeping people safe."
Her recovery's being boosted by acupuncture, which she's using to help relieve pain and swelling.
"I first used it during the run-up to the London games when my shoulders were a nightmare. Training four hours every day, six days a week, as I did throughout my competitive life, was punishing and I suffered years of shoulder and back pain, but you just get used to it and accept it," explains Rebecca, who won two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and two bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
"The legacy of that though is that my shoulders still flare up and ache if I exercise too much or carry Summer around all day. Regular acupuncture helps with that and I had it after giving birth to help rebalance my system."
Happily, it seems she's enjoying an enviable balance in her personal life three years after retiring from sport, although emerging from the pool into the public spotlight hasn't always been easy.
The down-to-earth Mansfield-born girl was cruelly targeted by Twitter trolls, who made jibes about what they dubbed her 'fishy lips' and 'dolphin nose' in 2012, shortly after her Olympic glory. It was hardly surprising that by 2013, when she competed in TV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, that she appeared insecure about her appearance.
A year later there were unconfirmed rumours, which she still refuses to discuss, that a few months before her wedding in 2014 she had surgery on her nose.
Rebecca credits motherhood for transforming her confidence and confides with a smile: "Your mindset changes when you become a mum and so do your priorities. All those doubts and worries about my appearance don't even enter my mind now. When I'm with my daughter, she's all that matters, and I have a different perspective and see all that other stuff for what it is - petty and totally irrelevant.
"Before she arrived, I'd think, 'OMG, do I look good in this or that?' and get concerned about what other people thought about me. Now, like most mums with a little one, I actually feel lucky if I manage to shower and do my hair and make-up!
"Of course, I feel guilty when I'm not with Summer, but Harry's such a hands-on dad who absolutely loves his time with her that I'm as happy as I can be when I'm away, even though I miss her loads."
Rebecca Adlington is supporting 'Acupuncture Awareness Week' (March 7-13) by the British Acupuncture Council. To find out more about traditional acupuncture visit www.introducingacupuncture.co.uk