Pain Coaching for OA project begins

Osteoarthritis
Richmond Stace | co-founder of UP and pioneer of Pain Coaching

An exciting day when UP kicks of the Pain Coaching Project for OA pain

After a few months of planning, the Pain Coaching Project started today. This is a really exciting time for Understand Pain (UP) and we are thrilled to be able to offer free sessions to people suffering the symptoms and pain of osteoarthritis (OA).

Pain Coaching focuses on the person, their strengths and their potential to improve their life. This comes in many forms as each person will have their own picture(s) of success. For some it will be an increase in walking, whilst for others it maybe to be able to socialise and feel more connected. We all have our ‘thing’. The aim of the programme is to give you knowledge, tools and practices to improve your life.

FREE places here

Starting with a conversation about you, your life and what you want to achieve, we then move into the practical sessions. There are many practices and tools to use, so we choose those most relevant to you. For example, we look at ways to mobilise your body and improve your quality of movement, breathing, planning your days, organising activities, relaxing deeply, building fitness, mindfulness, improving strength and confidence to be active.

If you would like to take advantage of the Pain Coaching Project and see how you can improve your life, book your place now by emailing here, and putting OA in the subject line.

RS

Jen’s story

Holding a yoga pose
Jen holding a yoga pose

In Jen’s own words…

When asked to write a ‘brief’ insight into my story, I questioned whether I could do this. I thought to myself ‘my story is far too complex to be able to sum it up in a short few paragraphs’. But then I realised how throughout my journey so far, when I have been faced with a challenge I step up to the mark, and I make it happen. So, here is my story:

Growing up I was a happy and healthy child who lived and breathed sport. And I was very successful with both my academic and sporting achievements. From the age of twelve I was playing cricket for Kent, representing Kent for Cross Country Running and Athletics as well as participating in any other sport where I could find the time. Life was good as a child, and I loved every moment.

However, in my teen years I developed anorexia nervosa which lead to a hospitalisation in my early twenties. I was in a critical state when admitted to hospital and there was little hope I would recover. However somehow, someway I managed to find some inner strength, determination and drive to want to recover from this illness. And so I began a long journey to restore my physical and mental health. I had a vision of leaving the hospital and being able to return to my sport, and continue working towards my goals of  representing Great Britain at either cricket or running (I hadn’t quite decided at that point).

Someway into my recovery I began to experience pain in my back. To begin with this pain was leaving me in tears on any movements. And it soon began to spread, I started feeling pain in my feet, knees and hips. For me this was not only an immense source of suffering, but it was puzzling as previously I had only ever experienced pain through injury during sport. So, like most people we began to get tests, scans and multiple visits to countless health care professionals including physios, psychotherapists, doctors, hypnotherapists, movement specialists, nutritionists, the list was endless. I was in desperate search to see if anyone could shed some light on this unexplained pain. This went on for a good couple of years, all the while my hope gradually fading before my eyes as I struggle to walk for five minutes without breaking down or sit through a coffee date with a friend before becoming in terrible discomfort. This led to a desperate google search, which became a moment I will never forget. I vividly remember laying on my bed one evening, crying and typing in to google ‘success stories of overcoming chronic pain’. And this search led me to Richmond Stace. I instantly knew at that moment I wanted to work with Richmond, to try something different. And what an incredible decision that way.

My first appointment with Richmond was similar to many, myself walking in depressed and clearly rapidly loosing hope. Yet upon leaving my energy had changed completely, and my mind was fixed, pain can and will change, I can do this. Over the coming weeks Richmond taught me what pain was and I began to understand that I can influence this pain simply by choosing my thoughts, feelings and actions wisely, always keeping them inline with my vision, to be happy and healthy. Richmond provided me with tools such as mindfulness, visualisation, motor and sensory skills, the power of gentle touch and lastly he empowered me to know that I can and will live a fulfilling life.

We worked slowly, acknowledging that i had also been diagnosed with osteoporosis from my eating disorder so we were mindful of this when putting plans and programmes together for me. And the changes in my pain and happiness were incredible. Within a few weeks I was doing things I had longed to do for so long, I was back out walking pain free, I was in the gym, going to yoga, I could swim. Running and cricket were being held back for the time being until my bone density improved but they remain goals in sight. Richmond’s approach was one that was so different to any other practitioner I had seen before, but one that truly changed my outlook on pain.

Four years later, I now have a 1st Class honours degree in Sport and Exercise for Health, I have a distinction from my Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Eating Disorders, and I am now pursuing a PhD at Griffith university in Australia exploring the effects of low energy availability on injury risk and sporting performance in athletes. I now enjoy going to the gym most days of the week, I am a qualified yoga teacher who practices most days and I love nothing more than a long walk in nature. There is a famous quote that says ‘don’t look back you’re not going that way’, but I don’t like this quote because for me sometimes looking back is truly remarkable, as it allows me to really see how far I have come. From a place of suffering, from a place where all hope was lost, from a dark depression, to now being in a place where I moved on significantly, I am living a fulfilling life, living an adventure. I would be lying to say I am free from my issues with pain, I still get some periods where I experience pain like I previously did, and occasionally I find myself slipping back into old habits. However, I soon realise this does not benefit me in the slightest, so I turn back to all the tools in the toolbox I now have to overcome difficult times. If I experience an increased period of pain, my instant reaction used to be ‘this is a disaster’ and I would seek out physios, doctors, pills and potions to try to find a quick solution. But through my increased knowledge and understanding of pain I no longer react in such a way, instead I now view these experiences like this  ‘ok, I feel you. What is the next best decision I can make that is going to help the situation (whether that be rest, movement, sleep, mindfulness, 3 deep breaths, laughter, food/ drink, meeting a friend) that is in line with my underlying vision of health and happiness’. Ultimately my next decisions always try to reduce the threat level, to reassure my body and mind that I am ok, I am safe. I have leant to observe my thoughts, feelings and actions and change them if they are not serving me well or if they contribute to suffering in any way.

I will never be able to thank Richmond enough for his ongoing help, support, guidance and encouragement during this stage of my life. Not only has he provided me with so many tools to overcome chronic pain, but also I have learnt so much about myself, who I am, what I want, my visions, goals and not to mention to wonderful books I have been guided too along the way. Richmond you are truly incredible and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So, for anyone out there who may be in that dark place right now, please trust me when I say, pain can and does change, when given the right environment to do so. Our experience of pain is influenced by our emotional state, fatigue, prior experience, our beliefs, our environment, our anticipation and expectation about pain. This can seem overwhelming however it is also truly empowering because having so many factors that influence pain means there is so much opportunity to change pain, because after all we are always changing. So, in this moment don’t be afraid to leave the shoreline, dive in and explore, along the way you will learn there is real depths to explore. There may be some darker patches, and inevitable challenges, and every now and again you may feel like the waves crash down on you. But trust me there is a shimmering horizon that calls you, and this is a journey that will ultimately take you towards that horizon. So, reach far, reach wide, take those meaningful steps, even if you need to tip toe forward to start, begin now and know there is a meaningful life out there for you too.

Free Pain Coaching for Osteoarthritis

Richmond Stace pain coaching
Richmond Stace | The Pain Coach | Pain Specialist | Chartered Physiotherapist

A new project for UP: FREE Pain Coaching for people suffering pain from osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability, estimated to affect 8.5 million people in the UK. This being the case, UP is offering a free Pain Coaching programme for sufferers.

Your free place here

In a project supported by GSK, you will receive 4 Pain Coaching sessions with Richmond Stace, co-founder of Understand Pain (UP) and pioneer of Pain Coaching. This can be face to face if you are able to attend one of the clinics, or Skype/Zoom if you live afar (UK or abroad). There will also be some small group sessions with 4-5 people).

The aim of both Pain Coaching and this project is to help you understand your pain and give you tools and practices to improve your life.

We are also studying key moments in the coaching conversations and will be voice recording the sessions to create transcripts. These will be anonymous and securely saved according to GDPR regulations.

What is Pain Coaching?

Pain Coaching is a blend of strengths-based coaching and pain neuroscience. Results-focused, we work together to clarify your picture of success and then design the steps in that direction. The steps consist of a range of ways to overcome pain and live your best life. This is a continuous process meaning that once you have the knowledge and skills, you are able to build momentum and seek sustained improvements.

Coaching is increasingly being used in the NHS as it is the primary way we can encourage effective self-care and independence. Strengths-based coaching has been pioneered by Mike Pegg. Mike sums up strengths-based coaching as a means of ‘…how we can encourage people during our time on the planet. It looks at how we can help people to build on their strengths and achieve their picture of success’. This approach is one of the predominant forms of coaching that we see in successful business organisations and sport.

Getting the best of you so you can live your best life

Key features

  • Free Pain Coaching sessions for OA pain
  • 1:1 (in person or Skype/Zoom) or small group
  • Understand your pain and symptoms
  • Learn tools and practices to improve your life
  • Build momentum for sustained improvement

Next steps…

Start your Pain Coaching today by visiting the Project page and arrange your first session.  

CLICK here to start

RS

#upandrun 11

Map of London
#upandrun 11 route

#upandrun 11 ~ the 12 summits of London

Yesterday morning I set off to conquer the 12 summits of London, inspired by The Guardian’s running blog by Jonny Muir. It was #upandrun number 11 kicking off 2020 with a run around the capital, which offers so much of interest, best seen on foot.

#upandrun is the running project from Understand Pain, raising awareness of the problem of pain in society, and what we can do to make a difference

We know that London is diverse. Yet it is only by passing through multiple boroughs that we can actually witness and feel this diversity. On the way round I encountered wailing ambulances, dogs, kids on bikes, a drone, pushchairs, cars, boats, cats and more. I ran along streets and paths bordered by terraced housing, mansions, premises boarded up, high rise blocks, walls, fences, the Thames, industrial units, skyscrapers, canals, woods, shops, and parks. Whilst much can seem unremarkable because we see it each day, it is in fact quite remarkable how this all works. A living city.

The summits:

  1. Putney Heath, Wandsworth
  2. Westow Hill, Lambeth
  3. Sydenham Hill, Lambeth
  4. Sydenham Hill, Southwark
  5. Shooters Hill, Greenwich (Eaglesfield Recreation Park)
  6. Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets
  7. Seven Sisters Road, Hackney
  8. Highgate Hill, Islington
  9. Spaniards Road, Camden
  10. Park Road, Westminster
  11. Harrow Road, Kensington and Chelsea
  12. Harrow Road, Hammersmith and Fulham

The route was 80k. Here are some of the highlights in pictures.

Tunnel
Greenwich foot tunnel
Park and city
The City from Greenwich Park
View of London
The City from Sydenham Hill
memorial on pavement
Stephen Lawrence memorial
Trees and lights
London lights from Hampstead

What is lined up for 2020?

#upandrun will continue with monthly ultramarathons — you are welcome to join me for a leg; get in touch.

Understand Pain has a new exciting project starting imminently. The focus is upon helping people suffering pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA), to improve their lives . Supported by GSK, I will be delivering Pain Coaching in small group workshops and 1:1 sessions (face to face and Skype). Information about how to sign up will be posted soon, so keep an eye out if you are interested. This is a free service delivered by myself, Richmond Stace, pioneer of Pain Coaching.

Understand Pain will be at The Rose Theatre Wellness Day in Kingston on Saturday 25th January. Tickets (free) for the day click here, and for the UP talk here.

RS

#upandrun 10 Hampton Court to Henley

Setting sun coming into Marlow

#upandrun 10 Hampton Court to Henley

76k along the Thames Path taking in Shepperton, Chertsey, Staines, Windsor, Maidenhead, Marlow and finally the home of one of the most famous regattas

The final ultra of the year for Understand Pain saw me running along the Thames, finishing at Henley-upon-Thames bridge. It’s a flat route meaning that most of the strides were similar, making for monotony as a challenge. The only variation was traversing fields, featuring uneven ground — tyre tracks, mole hills, divets etc. This was especially interesting in just the light of my head torch. Patches of fog provided additional fun.

Now it is time for some planning: monthly races and solos for 2020. There are so many to choose from! My thinking is to go for a 100-miler and another mountain race. I have some unfinished business on Snowdon, but perhaps Europe.

The UP workshops will have a different look in 2020. There are a couple of new projects afoot, which I will announce in more details once the details are finalised.

Exciting times ahead!

Meanwhile, here are some photos from #upandrun 10.

Runnymede

River Thames

Windsor Castle

RS

#upandrun 10

The route for #upandrun 10
Thames Path

#upandrun 10

Here’s the plan. Hampton Court to Reading; just over 50 miles along the Thames Path heading west.

Never has the need to understand pain been greater. Undoubtedly we are in times of great suffering for many reasons — mainly driven by our choices as humans on this planet. Whilst suffering is undoubtedly part of the lived experience for all of us, we can do so much better at being there for each other, regardless of background. At the end of the day, we all have the the same needs and desire for a fulfilling life.

Understand Pain plays its part by bringing practical knowledge into society so that people can improve their lives. My preference is face to face at the workshops: UP for people suffering persistent pain, for GPs and for healthcare professionals. The latter includes student physiotherapists who are the next generation and can make a huge difference. Last week I was enormously enthused by a sizeable group of MSc and BSc physio students at Leeds Beckett University where I ran an impromptu session (read here); a kind of surprise gig….

My hope and dream is much more of this as the story gathers momentum — so please share far and wide!

Look out for the next blog and the pics of #upandrun 10 on the day >> @painphysio on Twitter and @paincoach on Insta.

3000k for #upandrun 2019

3000k for #upandrun and on go!

On Friday night Strava told me that I had reached 3000k for the year so far. Undoubtedly, the cause Understand Pain (UP) has been a massive motivator together with a sense of purpose, echoing the thoughts of Dean Karnazes: ‘…ultrarunning is a noble pursuit and has brought purpose to many people’s lives, as it has mine.’

However, there’s a long way to go. Society needs to develop its understanding of pain: what it is really and why it can persist. That’s one of the main purposes of UP.

My intention is to continue with the ultrarunning to raise awareness of the problem of pain. There is no end goal; just to keep going as in the style of shuffling mile after mile. Along the way, I hope to gain partners who want to share the story of making a positive impact in society (do get in touch here if you are interested). For example, UP recently has teamed up with a large healthcare company to work on a really exciting Pain Coaching project — more on this soon.

But, none of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of a number of people. Therefore, I dedicate this blog and the #upandrun 3000 to them with massive gratitude. Some I know well and some I know of; all have helped in their own unique ways and many won’t have realised!

Here they are, and there will be others! My wife Jo (boy does she have to put up with a lot! Socks, shoes, driving, boring running talk, my new vegan diet…), my kids, Mike Pegg, Jeff Weigh, Chris Peskett, Adharanand Finn, Catra Corbett, Richard Askwith, Scott Jurek, Charlotte at Fancy Running, Kilian Jornet, Dean Karnazes, Rich Roll, Michael Gervais, Cody Royle, Russell Brand, Mick Thacker, Sanjay from Pursu, and Georgie with whom I started the whole UP project.

And as Mike Pegg always says: on we go.

Indeed we do. Indeed we must.

Overcoming headaches ~ a success story

Understand Pain for GPsUnderstand pain to change pain

I wholeheartedly believe in people’s ability to change their pain. Why? Because I have seen it so often and heard how individuals have improved their lives. We also see the effects of changing people’s perceptions in the research settings.

Many scientific studies have shown how we can alter experiences in many different ways. My role as a clinician is to translate this into something practical for people to use day to day to get better. This is why I spend time with scientists, researchers and philosophers on a regular basis, but also draw upon many fields to create programmes for people to get the best of themselves.

Here is a story about a person’s experience of changing their pain. In this case, chronic headache. I act as an encourager, a supporter and a coach, but it is always the person who must do the work to get better.

I suffered from Chronic Daily Headaches for twelve years, before I was eventually referred to Richmond by my neurologist, Dr Marie-Helene Marion, to whom I am eternally grateful for doing so.

Before visiting Richmond, the only option I had to relieve my headaches was medication and, when the drugs stopped working, I would feel completely hopeless in their wake. But, in just a few short sessions, Richmond completely reconfigured my relationship with my headaches – giving me tools to manage the pain and, more importantly, feel in control.

Very soon the hopeless despair was gone because now, when I was faced with a headache, I had options. Whether it was as simple as a full body meditation, going for a run, or turning to my daily journal, there were things I could do that had a direct impact on the pain and therefore my state of mind. I no longer felt crushed by the onset of a headache because I could take action. If the drugs didn’t work, it wasn’t the end of the road, there was something I could do to better the situation.

As a result of my treatment, I am slowly coming off my medication (something I would never have imagined possible, having been on them for so long) and feel better than ever about my headaches. It has honestly changed my life.

And there’s one other thing – until I saw Dr. Marion and Richmond about my headaches, no one had ever told me that I would ‘get better’. It was always about managing the symptoms with medication. It’s a simple thing to say , that you might ‘get better’ but, for the first time, I had been given permission to believe that I didn’t have to live with my headaches forever – from the outset this was a huge psychological boost. And, I am pleased to say, they were right. I am getting better.

NM, London 2019

 

#upandrun No.8

Richmond Stace co-founder of UP running for #upandrun

It is time to think about the October #upandrun ultramarathon now that I have recovered from the Snowdonia adventure and am back to running around locally.

There are several choices, both of which are solos. That is when the runner heads off on his or her own, unsupported, making their way from A to B.

The one I shall go for is Richmond to Oxford along the Thames Path. Previously I ran from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier, so this will be going the other way; out of town so to speak.

The route is 100 miles. I will chunk this into two days, finding somewhere to stop overnight. Any suggestions are welcome. Preferably somewhere quiet, with nourishing food where I can dry out and put my feet up for a few hours before setting off again. All I will carry is what I can fit in my backpack.

So that’s the plan. I will confirm the dates soon.

If you are interested in sponsoring this run and the October UP workshop, or sponsoring/associating with #upandrun do get in touch >> richmond@specialistpainphysio.com

Hitting the hills!

Map of Snowdonia

Maverick inov-8 ultra series ~ Snowdonia 2019

For the 7th ultra I am hitting the hills, or rather mounting the mountains….

Most of the races so far have included some steep hills. Over the South Downs near Ditchling Beacon on my way to Brighton from London, traversing the Seven Sisters from Eastbourne towards Brighton and along The Ridgeway on Race to the Stones, have all challenged my thighs. Running and walking uphill is one thing, coming down is another. There’s an art to the latter. A balance between controlling one’s descent so you don’t fall and saving your quads! The Maverick inov-8 ultra has an elevation of 3020 over 60-odd k.

Elevation chart

Traditionally I am not great with heights. So this ultra presents an additional element and feature for me to cope with whilst climbing, descending, walking trotting, hopping, shuffling and running. Don’t look down! Having said that, I have been on mountains plenty of times before and usually enjoyed the views, fresh air and freedom.

Recently I was thinking that #upandrun would continue for 12 months, #12in12. But then I thought about afterwards and what I would do. I can’t see that I will stop, so this will continue indefinitely with a blend of races and solos that accompany the monthly UP workshops (next one on 18th Sept >> tickets here).

You can support Understand Pain here, helping us to run the workshops each month so that they are free for those most in need, to increase the number of workshops and the reach. Meanwhile, I’ll keep running to raise awareness and bring the tools to people so that they can improve their lives.

RS