Next challenge: Race to the Stones

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For some time I have been eyeing up the idea of ultra running. Having spent the past few years training for and completing several marathons and half-marathons, the urge to take it onto another level overcame me. I booked myself a date with Race to the Stones.

An old friend completed the 100k run this year. I went down to collect him and watched the runners coming in. There was such a great vibe! Much like a mini-festival; relaxed, encouraging, inspirational and lots of smiles…in amongst some pain of course!

The course follows an ancient path. We will be running and walking in the footsteps of Vikings, Romans, dragons and Kings — not in fancy dress I hasten to add!

Journey from the Chilterns to the mystical North Wessex Downs past mighty iron age forts, ancient monuments and through some of Britain’s most stunning landscapes

As ever, the run will be for Understand Pain, #upandrun. You can keep an eye on progress and other running events here and on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

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Race to the Stone 2019

On we go!

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Beachy Head Marathon 2018

 

Sanjay’s story of overcoming pudendal neuralgia

Sanjay on his bike has overcome pudendal neuralgia

A story of overcoming pain and pursuing a purpose

Sanjay came to see me about a persisting and most troubling painful problem that is common in cyclists, pudendal neuralgia. We worked together towards his picture of success, following the principles of the Pain Coach Programme. As ever, the focus was to understand pain and move onto live a fulfilling life.

The old tale ‘good, bad, who knows?’ illustrates the continuity of life, or impermanence, as we live life’s ups and downs. This is such a narrative here as you read about the joy of cycling, the suffering caused by the pain and the consequential limitations, the freedom of overcoming pain, the birth of an idea and the use of strengths to create something new, with purpose.

Here is Sanjay’s story in his own words.

Cycling passion

Most keen cyclists have experienced the addictive nature of being on a bike, the sense of freedom, speed and the happy effects of serotonin. I always loved riding my metallic blue Raleigh Grifter as a kid and unfortunately didn’t have an opportunity to upgrade to a bigger bike once I out grew the Grifter.

Many years later I rediscovered cycling again when my arm was twisted by colleagues at work to take part in the London to Brighton charity ride. I loved the experience and fell back in love with cycling again. My time on the bike increased and the challenges got harder.

It took a few years to build up the confidence to join a cycling club, but when I did I never looked back. I met an amazing group of new friends and inspirational people.

Saddle sore

I would generally ride a few sportives every year and managed to get a saddle sore after a sportive a few years ago. I’m not very good at staying off the bike and didn’t help the healing process by getting back on the bike before it healed properly. This led to a persistent saddle sore. After various antibiotics creams and tablets the sore still persisted. I had based most of my free time and social life around the bike so found it challenging mentally when I wasn’t able to ride.

One day at work I suddenly developed a pain around my sit bones that extended down my leg, it felt like a strange pain, almost electric and was worse when I was sat down. As if the saddle sore wasn’t enough I now had another issue to deal with.

Search for treatment

Over a period of a couple of months, I saw 5 different doctors and 4 different physios and still didn’t have any improvement or diagnosis. At times, it felt like the pain was getting worse and I was spending a lot of time on my feet to avoid sitting. Depression was starting to sink in as a result of the pain and inability to do the normal things that I enjoyed doing.

I decided to get an MRI scan done and this showed inflammation at the point of pain near the sit bone. This provided some hope so I then started treatment with a physio to treat this condition and after a couple of months the pain just got worse. Next stop was a pro-cycling team physio and doctor who both worked together to finally give me a diagnosis. It wasn’t the news I wanted to hear, a trapped pudendal nerve. Also known as Pudendal Nerve Entrapment (PNE).

I turned to Google for advice and struggled to find any good news about recovery from the condition. The doctor suggested cortisoid  injections or a powerful antidepressant with the side affect of numbing the nerves. Knowing that these options were just masking the root cause I started working with a clinic that specialised in nerve injuries including the pudendal nerve. They had knowledge of the injury and I did have some progress however after months and months of treatment, I had only around 10% improvement and still couldn’t sit without pain.

Richmond

I was very low during this time and began searching for answers again. I came across Richmond Stace’s pain physio website and something seemed different about Richmond’s treatment. I quickly booked an appointment. I walked into Richmond’s office very depressed and without hope and walked out with the belief that I could recover. Richmond had a different approach to anyone else that I had seen. He helped me understand the cause of the pain and that knowledge led to empowerment and therefore belief that I could overcome the pain. Richmond provided tools including visualisation techniques, motor pattern training and mindfulness practices.

Richmond provided a programme of treatment and adapted and progressed the plan based on my progress. I started sitting again very quickly after treatment and running again after only a few weeks. I was back on the saddle for short periods after a few more weeks and back on the road riding again after a couple of months. It felt amazing to ride again after 8 months off the bike and gradually over time the pain completely disappeared.

Pursu

During the time I was having treatment with Richmond, my contract finished so I was no longer working. Richmond mentioned a book called ‘Screw Work Break Free’ by John Williams. I quickly bought and read the book and felt inspired to pursue something more meaningful. A few years earlier I had dreamt of creating my own natural and eco-friendly cycling nutrition brand and this felt like the perfect opportunity to start making the dream come to life.

Pursu nutrition bars cycling

As I was spending more time on my bike over the years I realised that most of the sports nutrition options on the market were highly processed, high in sugars and gave me stomach issues. I started making my own bars with real food ingredients and they tasted so much better plus my stomach was much happier.

The path to taking the products from my kitchen to a manufacturer was not an easy or quick one, there were many obstacles and the ability to adapt was key. I stuck to my values throughout the process and that included only using the best quality real food ingredients, sustainability and creating an inclusive brand that inspires people to ride and get involved in sports whilst eating well.

Pursu will be launching in March 2019 and the name has been inspired by the Pursuit cycling events and represents the Pursuit of better nutrition, the Pursuit of goals and ambitions. The launch bar packaging will be 100% home compostable and is made out of bio-based materials. In addition we have partnered with a great charity called Recycle (re-cycle.org) who supply unused bikes from the UK Africa to help improve lives through the power of bicycles.

It seems like a long time ago that I wasn’t able to see a way out of the constant pain. Not only did I recover completely, an opportunity to pursue a dream also came my way. Before I met Richmond, there was little hope for recovery from PNE. I know there are other cyclists with the same or similar conditions and I hope my story provides hope to them.

You can keep updated with progress and competitions on Instagram @pursunutrition and sign up for a launch discount at pursu.co.uk.

 

 

Marathon day

The sun is not up yet, but we are. As ever, you seem to be waiting for the day, and then it is upon you.

We arrived in Eastbourne last night, welcomed by the most enormous moon as we followed the coastal road, Beachy Head on the right in the dark. In places I had to drop down to third gear to climb the hill, thinking about how we would be running those very same hills in just over 12 hours.

I am fortunate that a old pal has done the Beachy Head Marathon before. He also introduced me to a fellow runner from his club who has done it ‘5 or 6 times’. Casual. I would definitely remember how many times I had done it! So it can’t be a big deal; right? I was invited to a 20k warm up, which I politely declined. 44 is enough today thanks. The next piece of advice was gold: at the start, walk until you hear the bagpipes and then start running. This was followed with, yes, the first hill is a bastard. Righty ho!

Time to climb into the kit and grab some brekkie. There’s always something special about putting on the shirt, and representing something far bigger than oneself. You remember that the run is representative of a huge need in society and is one more step forward in raising awareness.

Look out for the pics on the way round, and maybe some live footage.

See you on the other side!

RS

Pete and I

Sharing a purpose

Pete and I share a passion and a purpose. We discovered our shared purpose over a number of conversations at dinners and conferences. More recently Pete and I recorded our chats, ‘pain talking’ (see here, here and here) to share our thoughts. There will be more to come, much Moore!

Our purpose: to change the way people and society thinks about pain. Why? Read on…

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Richmond Stace (The Pain Coach) & Pete Moore (The Pain Toolkit)

Today Pete is giving the Sir Michael Bond lecture, an annual British Pain Society event. The talk is unsurprisingly titled: Pain self-management; first choice or last resort? Punchy and to the point, as is Pete. And this is what the pain world, which is in fact the whole world with pain being a ubiquitous experience owned by only the first person, needs to jolt the right actions.

Pete and I could be considered outspoken, disruptive and bringers of change. However, not everyone is comfortable with change. We meet resistance. Not so long ago I spoke to a large group of mainly doctors, presenting some of the latest thinking in pain. The feedback was a fascinating mix of love and hate. Clearly some were hankering after change, recognising that the current predominant model has failed. One who only had courage with his or her feedback form accused the thinking as snake oil. I would love that person to sit in front of the likes of Karl Friston, Andy Clark, Mick Thacker and try to run with that argument!

But this is the reality. We have clinicians practicing old ways that refuse to change their thinking. This is of great concern as the millions across the globe continue to suffer (needlessly) as a result of the misunderstandings of pain. The situation must change: this is the purpose of Pete and I.

Self-management and coaching

Pete has been working tirelessly to engage clinicians and pain sufferers. He shows them that self-management is the way forward using his own story and The Pain Toolkit. An important principle that we must all adhere to is that only the person can ease their own suffering.

Whilst there can be a role for medication and intervention when chosen with good reason and used wisely, the main thrust should always be the person’s understanding of pain and what they do themselves. As I say to each person I see, you are with you all the time so you must be able to coach yourself with clarity and calm to take the best actions.

To understand pain is always the start point. The true insight into the cause of one’s own suffering unlocks the door of potential. This is why Understand Pain exists as a means to deliver the knowledge, skills and know how to society. At UP we have the vision of a world that understands pain. This would mean a huge reduction in suffering, more money available for other social concerns, people would know what to think and do, and treatment would be about encouragement of wise actions by the person.

Getting the best of people

It is always the person who suffers pain (not the body part) and hence we must think about the person and their life. And this is why The Pain Toolkit and Pain Coaching are successful in encouraging and inspiring people to live as a means to managing and overcoming their pain. Waiting for the pain to go before getting back to living just does not work. There is only this moment to take action, right now. The future never comes, so if you are waiting, it will be a long one!

Pete Moore and Richmond Stace
Richmond Stace and Pete Moore

 

Coaching and specifically Pain Coaching seeks to get the best of the person by giving them practical and working knowledge of pain. The focus is upon the person’s picture of success and how we get there step by step. All too often people think that they must just cope, get by, live with it etc. Of course, if this is your best hope then this is all that will be achieved. This is not the fault of the people. It is the problem in society — pain is a social problem. When society changes its thinking, the actions will change. Pete and I: this is our work. And we will keep going, encouraging people to understand, to use tools and practices each day and to build momentum towards a better life.

Today Pete will speak frankly. He will be entertaining, because he is, but he will hit the mark with the fact that self-management is the key ingredient. Without this there is little chance of progress.

I am thrilled that Pete has this opportunity. He deserves the stage and will undoubtedly make an impact. I will try to get there early and get a front row seat! Pete, can I wear a Liverpool shirt?

Oh, and we also both love rock n roll….

UP and running — Beachy Head Marathon 2018

Following the Box Hill 20k trail run, I fancied something along the same lines. There’s definitely something about running out in nature, up and down hills, covering different terrains, and most of all the camaraderie.

So, on discovering that the Beachy Head Marathon takes place on my birthday in October, I felt compelled to sign up to give it a go. And then my wife Jo said she would do the 10K!

On the Beachy Head Marathon, my good friend and experienced marathoner said to me, its a completer, not a competer. I like that idea. Runners of distance get it. There’s a draw to discovering what you can achieve, how far you can go, what its like to be out there for hours and to find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

I have only been at this for a few years so would count myself as a novice in the endurance world. However, in this time I have learned a great deal about the rewards of perseverance and how they seamlessly spread into other arenas of life. No matter which step you are taking, there’s always another. But which direction do you choose?

At school we were made to run almost every day. At the time I resisted. Why Sir, I would ask (often). What’s the point of running? I used to think running was just about, well, running. I now have another perspective. My son asks me, why do you run, its boring, why don’t you cycle, its quicker. I understand his view. He is 13.

Running distances seems to suit the middle ages; see all the ultra runners birth dates. As someone said to me, why would you want to go running for hours when you are in your 20’s when you could be out with your friends doing __________ (fill in the gap).

Anyhow, October 27th it is, Beachy Head the place. A stunning backdrop, challenging hills (up and down — I’m not sure which I prefer; up I think!), and a purpose. The purpose as you know is to share a message in society: pain can and does change starting with understanding. Regular readers will be aware of the reasons why chronic pain is the number one global health burden. I am sure that most if not all of us can think of someone who suffers daily. Think about what that is like: the way pain seeps into every corner of someone’s life. It may be you.

There is a desperate need for change in thinking in society, which will underpin the demand for the right kind of approaches to pain. We are still blanketed by methods that do not offer a way forward. This only emerges from understanding and right action. UP is all about both understanding pain and using this knowledge for right and wise action to ease suffering by living.

I am very excited. I am excited about the BHM 2018 but also because UP is now registered and ready to go. The immediate plans include the website as an immediate place of contact for quality information about pain, booklets to order and distribute, a little book of pain and online courses. We have raised a good amount of money to fund these projects but of course we need to keep this going with future funding, donations and other opportunities that present themselves. Great times ahead as we pursue this purpose!

Understand Pain

Pain in Spain

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Keynote at the Congreso Fisio 2018

IX UMH Physiotherapy Congress 2018, Alicante

There were several remarkable things about the UMH Physiotherapy Congress in Alicante last week, which I will share below. Before though, I want to state that without doubt, the organisers created a meeting that universities around the globe should seek to emulate. This was a conference that was professionally co-ordinated, filled to the brim with great and varied content, smoothly run, and was attended by an enthusiastic, passionate, sizeable group of 420 professionals and students. The success emerged from the co-ordinated efforts of many individuals, in particular Sergio Hernández Sánchez, Ellana Mckerrell and Roser Bel-lan Roldán.

I was delighted to be asked to speak to over 400 people at the main conference and then run a Pain Coach Workshop for professionals. This was an opportunity to share some of the latest thinking about the global problem of pain, and ideas about how we can go about driving social change together. On reviewing the statistics, it appears that the chronic pain numbers are slightly lower in Spain compared to the rest of Europe (16.6% and 20% respectively). Despite the mild difference, this still represents a major public health issue that needs urgent attention, with the costs estimated at 1.5% of GDP.

“The pain in Spain is mainly on the plain”

This was a conference of the highest quality. The topics, the speakers, the logistics, and the atmosphere were second to none. And what is so remarkable is that the conference was planned, organised and run by the physiotherapy students from UMH. This was as professional as it could be, and therefore the Congreso was a great success as far as I was concerned.

The Pain Coach Workshop was an UP (Understand Pain Social Enterprise) offering, allowing me to work with twenty five professionals who were keen to build on their knowledge and skills for chronic pain. The participants kindly shared their experiences and insights about chronic pain in Spain, and together we worked through a ‘lite’ version of the Pain Coach day.

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Pain definitions from the 5 minute challenge

With a handful of English speakers, we had a fantastic translation team, who really made the workshop happen. They were brilliant as we got into the rhythm of exchanges. In the three hours we looked at the vehicle of coaching as a means to deliver skills and knowledge, together with always seeking to get the best from both the individual and the clinician. From there, we considered a range of practices including those that seek to build wellness, address sensorimotor adaptations, reduce threat and sensitivity and to encourage people to live their best lives, whatever their circumstances. The emphasis of the Pain Coach is upon realising the choices we have in life and how we make the best ones to achieve success and results. The philosophy that runs through the programme is based upon knowledge, wisdom, and compassion.

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Translation in action at The Pain Coach Workshop

This was an important trip for several reasons. Firstly to make new friends in Spain so that we can build upon the successes and create future events that benefit individuals and society. Secondly, we have identified a need that we can meet together with education, encouragement and enablement at both the undergraduate and professional levels. And thirdly, we can tap into the passion that was so clearly expressed in the opening ceremony by Roser and Sergio, to move forwards in a positive and productive way.

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For information about keynotes and Pain Coach Workshops, please contact us: painphysiolondon@gmail.com

The Shape of Pain ~ a show about the pain of CRPS and relationships

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“One woman attempts to articulate her experience of physical pain. Pain with no apparent cause. Also, she’s met someone, and they want to make this work. Words and an original sound score combine to create an explosive dialogue about love and perception. An experiment in how we talk about pain – and if we ever do that in a way someone else can understand.” China Plate

To briefly set the scene, this is a one-woman show that attempts the most challenging of tasks, to communicate pain. For many years, I have listened to people as they try to describe their pain, providing an open forum for them to use their own words, descriptions and illustrations. Of course, none fully capture the lived experience and so we must acknowledge this limitation whilst absolutely validating what the person says. Carefully documenting the language, phrases and comparisons, we must treat the narrative with care and compassion, listening deeply and equally observing how the words are delivered—gestures, facial expressions and subtle posturing.

And so, The Shape of Pain seeks, in an experiential manner, to get over to the audience what it is like to be in pain of a chronic nature as a feature of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). For those who are unsure, CRPS can be a painful condition of an extreme nature. There are other signs and symptom as well, which out of necessity define it. There are many painful problems and we must be able to differentiate to deepen our understanding through enquiry. The Budapest Criteria set out to do just that.

For me, it was a remarkable performance by Hannah McPake, delivering the narrative with authentic emotion, seeking to engage the people in the room. I am not a theatre critic so I can only comment on the technical aspects as an amateur, so I will stop there. However, as a clinician with a purpose to drive social change with regards chronic pain, and as a member of the audience, I was somewhat torn between the two. Flitting in my (embodied) mind, just as when we were invited to explore our perception of the Necker cube, I was critically appraising the way pain was being described, then drawn to the sensory experience of being present and back again.

In a conversation afterwards with some of the people who had watched the play, there was a feeling that we had definitely had an experience. You are not simply sitting and watching. You are absorbed by force—the sounds, the stage, the lights, the performance, and the projection of the script on the panels, which to me represented the imprisonment that some perceive and describe as their sense of agency is seemingly squeezed from them. In the discussion group, we all appeared to subscribe to the idea of pain having a shape. Job done!

Knowing that people suffering with particular sensitivity, and that is not just those with CRPS, will react protectively as their brain predicts a possible danger, means that the play would likely be provocative of pain. This point is made clearly in the script, which you can purchase, and a reason for an actor playing the part because of the effects of the words. Many people have told me, usually when prompted, that watching someone move, thinking about movement, certain smells, sounds and other ‘stimuli’ bring on the pain. When you understand pain, you know why this happens and how very real it is, together with changes in the sense of size of the limb, perception of the world and the sense of self.

Chronic pain is the number one global health burden. There are huge financial costs for society to bear, and immeasurable suffering for individuals. With the numbers of people affected by what we can safely say is a public health issue of major concern, you would expect a play such as The Shape of Pain to be sold out in a sizeable theatre as society tries to gain a grip on the problem. The question at large is why, with the costs in the billions each year and the impact on social function, is there so little accurate and impacting coverage? Most articles describe pain in the wrong way, the ‘old way’, which is distinctly unhelpful at best, and at worst keeps people thinking the wrong way. At the moment I have no answer to that, but instead focus energies upon delivering the right messages and the latest understanding to those in need.

The Shape of Pain is a significant contributor to the narrative of the most impacting of pains. A main feature of the tale is relationships. That of the person embodying the pain with the pain, the person in pain with a loved partner, the person in pain with the audience, and all of these vice versa. Undoubtedly, with pain lurking and then dominating ‘me’, there is impact on relationships. We are social creatures and relationships are important for our health, whilst also being the source of great suffering if we are not careful and nurturing. It can be more challenging to nourish a relationship if you are suffering pain persistently, as the Shape demonstrates frankly, but equally one can gain strength.

I will not capture all the angles within this short blog. Yet I hope to transmit several key messages of hope whilst fully applauding the team behind this play. They have created a brilliant piece of intimate theatre in which you cannot fail to feel deeply engaged as you run from emotion to emotion until the rather disquieting, darkened end, which is wholly appropriate. However, in a selfish way, I am pleased that the venue is smallish and intimate, because you feel so much more ‘in the room’ with the character.

On hope, there has been great advance in our understanding of pain, primarily from the getting together of neuroscientists and philosophers. This has resulted in better questions, with new insights for answers that are most helpful in describing pain to people so that they can give meaning to their lived experience. From there, this understanding informs many practices and tools that can be used to manage the painful moments, and overall seek to improve one’s life with a clear direction and steps to take. We are designed to change, impermanence making life viable, with each moment unfolding as fresh and new. This in mind, we can choose an approach, establish our purpose and pursue it in the best way that we can.

Here are 5 facts about pain (there are many more):

  1. Pain (a subjective feeling state) and injury (objectively observable and measurable) are not the same and they are not well related
  2. Pain is part of the way we protect ourselves
  3. There is no pain centre in the brain. And there are no pain signals or pain chemicals. We have systems that have a role in protection and survival — e.g./ nervous system, sensorimotor system, immune system
  4. Pain is an inferred state that motivates us to take action to address a need in our body or our world
  5. Chronic pain does not ‘start’ at 3 months. The reasons why someone experiences on-going pain are more to do with prior life experiences of protection, genetics, early uncontrolled pain at the time of the incident and perhaps gender. There are and will be many more factors.

A brief summary of the modern approach to chronic pain

As I have said, the first step to successfully managing pain moments and carving a new way forward, is to understand your pain. This is how any programme should begin, with practical knowledge and ‘know-how’. To get results, we have to shift our thinking and approach as much as using the new and necessary practical tools and actions each day. This does not mean ‘you’ have to change as a person. Instead, you are encouraged to use your existing strengths and successful styles (you will have had many successes in life, overcoming challenges) to focus on your desired outcome and the steps to take.

There are specific exercises that need to be practiced in a dedicated manner, just like learning a musical instrument, general principles to follow to gradually engage with chosen and loved activities (getting into flow), and thinking tools to focus, create calm and build wellness, our greatest buffer to life’s ups and downs. The Pain Coach Programme contains all of these components together with many other tools and practices to draw upon to embody and live a meaningful life. There is not any single practice, instead an approach that embraces what we know about being a conscious human being.

Managing the painful moments with increasing skill transforms these episodes into opportunities to head in the chosen direction. Like learning to sail a boat, we learn a great deal when the waters get choppy, and we may even capsize! But then we can focus upon rolling the boat over again and setting sail towards that desired outcome. This may happen over and over, but we can choose an approach steeped in doing our very best as we seek to master ourselves. The principles of mastery certainly apply here. In facing these challenging moments as they arise, we create new habits, replacing those that do not work, but always in line with what we want to achieve. Stringing these together with the skills of being well and specific training, we can build a foundation of understanding, compassion (especially self), and know-how that can be built upon.

This is truly an exciting time as our learning gathers pace. My role and purpose is to be a conduit and distill the great work being done by many across the globe, into tangible and practical tools that each and every one of us can use to get the best results.

The Shape of Pain is on now at The Battersea Arts Centre (where I had some delicious potato wedges in the cafe!) until 10th March. If you are interested in pain or dramatic theatre or both, this is definitely worthwhile seeing. Note though, if you are a pain sufferer, it may be evocative for some of the reasons outlined above. In knowing this though, you may choose to go along for the ride.


For further information, contact me at painphysiolondon@gmail.com

CRPS specific Pain Coach Workshop for people with the condition and their carers

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The next CRPS specific Pain Coach Workshop is coming up in Bath — link at the bottom for tickets (free). We had great feedback from the last workshop, but took note of people’s comments and extended the session. This one is longer so we can really tuck into some of the practices, and have the experience together.

The Workshop is by design a positive experience. We very much focus on what we can do and the choices we can make to lead the best life.

Together with specific practices that are important to address CRPS (and other painful problems), we will be looking at the skills that are known to be key for a healthy life. These skills are the best buffer for life’s challenges and hence play a foundation role in overcoming pain. And that is what we are seeking to do. Not ‘managing’ or ‘coping’, instead overcoming and moving to a new level.

The final part of the session is about how we can implement and integrate the practices into our life so that you can make a plan that you can follow in your world and reality.

I hope to see you there!

Click here for details and tickets

Pain Coach Workshops ~ supporting the next generation of therapists and clinicians

A week ago we had another Pain Coach Workshop. This time in Wilmslow, near Manchester. A great spot with some excellent local cafes. I do love a cafe.

Regular readers will be familiar with the UP story, the UP vision and how we are supporting the next generation of clinicians and therapists by providing two sponsored places for local undergraduates.

Everyone who attends the Pain Coach Workshop brings immense value to the day. Purposely a small group to create a positive dynamic, the team all add their experience and views. In particular I enjoy hearing from the current undergraduates–the openness, freshness and the beginner’s mind that I encourage is evident.

Sam and Emma from Salford University came to the Wilmslow workshop, and here is what Sam had to say:

Here’s what Sam had to say:

I have recently completed the Understanding Pain & Pain Coach Workshop lead by Richmond Stace. I am a physiotherapy student, and was lucky enough to receive a free place that Richmond provides to support local undergraduate development.
I became interested in this workshop due to my time out on placement, in which I was challenged with chronic pain patients. Many patients had been seen by numerous health professions prior to myself, and suffering with pain for many years. I did not feel equipped to deal with this patient group who had deeply established pain belief systems and pain embedded within their lives. I believe as a student, it is important to develop the ability and confidence in which you can challenge a patient’s understanding of pain.

I understood the approach of ‘Making Every Contact Count’ was vital to encourage physical activity and promote behaviour changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. However, I now feel that the approach of ‘Making Every Contact Count’ needs to extend to pain coaching. The course has provided me with the tools to encourage patients to understand pain and most importantly, gain control over it. This is a skill that will need to be practiced, and as a student it is the perfect time to develop and create change in ourselves, in-order to create change for our patients.

I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop, it was great to share the day with experienced physiotherapists and it was a fun learning experience. Richmond’s passion, values and drive is infectious and I cannot wait to graduate to develop my abilities to encourage, educate and enable change. A big thank you to Richmond for this great learning opportunity and I would encourage all physiotherapy students to attend!

The next Pain Coach Workshop is in Newport on Sat November ~ see here

Much more to come in the 2018!

The final run ~ Ellen completes the 1/2 Marathon

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UP & CRPS UK Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon Team

The final run

This morning I woke up feeling like I was going to do an exam. Wondering if I had done enough practice in the last few weeks to enable me to perform on the day. I felt sick to my stomach, had hardly slept and just wanted to get to the start line so I could get it over and done with as soon as possible!

We left at 6am; I was layered up to the max not only with my running gear on but 2 jumpers and my thick jogging bottoms over the top, to keep my body warm and loose. Dad had made me swallow down some porridge with half a bottle of maple syrup in it to make it more bearable, before we left. That really did make me feel sick!

We jumped in the car and began the hour and a half journey. My nerves were getting worse so I started listening to my iPod music to try and settle myself down. Music has always been my go to thing to calm my nerves, even during flare-ups; singing to the music settles my breathing and brings me back to normality.  I was so tired and kept feeling my eyes drooping but I know sleeping before the run would be a bad idea as it would probably just make me more tired.

We arrived in London and I wish I could say my nerves had gone but they hadn’t. Not one bit. I took my 15 thousand layers off in the car and then we walked towards Hyde Park. We had no idea where we needed to be so the four of us probably looked like headless chickens! We got into the park and it was so much bigger than I thought! People were flooding in and I was feeling more and more intimidated by the minute. What had I got myself in for!!

Richmond and his wife arrived, so we got to see our t-shirts for the first time. It was so strange to see my name on a sponsored shirt! It was suddenly really real and I just needed to get to the start line. We said goodbye to mum, Tom and Cooper and headed off. We got ourselves into our start section, and then did the 30-minute wait till it was our turn to head over the line! Dad and I took some last minute selfies, looked at each other then started our gentle run over the big white start line! All I had to do was get back to this line, to finish!!

The route was even more beautiful than I imagined and having that many people shouting my name as I ran past made my legs just keep going without me even really thinking about it. About 20 minutes in a man was running next to Dad and noticed his shirt. He said “CRPS?” and Dad explained that we were raising money and that I had the condition myself and was still running it. He said he had a friend who was suffering with it in his back and he needed help, so Dad told him to speak to Richmond and then the man congratulated me for what I was doing! I did not think anyone there would actually know what we were running for as most people look at me blankly when I tell them about my CRPS so it was such a positive boost that not only did someone actually know and understand the condition but that they also realised that this was not an easy challenge I had set myself! The issue with a invisible disorder is that no one can ever tell, day to day, unless it is obvious on that day so to everyone on that run I was normal but that day I didn’t want to be normal. I wanted everyone to see my condition and how hard I had worked and was trying to get round this run!

RP

The first 6 miles seemed to fly by and it felt like as soon as we had come out of Hyde Park we seemed to be going back into it. The pathway through the beginning of Hyde Park was full of people; I couldn’t help but smile at the support and music blaring either side of us. There was so many people, I could not recognise the individual faces however suddenly I could just understand recognisable voices shouting both mine and dad’s names to which Dad then pointed to the left hand side and there was Mum, Ben (my brother), Tom and Cooper. I didn’t want to look directly at them as I knew I looked like a tomato and was panting like a dog! But just hearing them made me smile ear to ear and I could feel my legs pushing through more and more.

We got to the 8 mile mark and we were still running although it was starting to get hard now. Both Dad and I were starting to breathe differently although I could tell that neither of us wanted to be the one to ask to stop first as that person would then feel like they were letting the other person down! There were some slight hills but nothing as bad as what we have done at home so the hills weren’t too bad it was just the general ache in the whole body that was starting to slow us down. Dad suddenly stopped so I did too, and if I am honest I was relieved, I was in agony but I knew I would not stop if Dad kept running. The walk break allowed both of us to catch our breath but it also made the pain within my legs become more intense. This meant that when we started running again my legs hurt twice as much as before. But I just kept setting little goals for myself so I just had to get to that tree and then when I got there, I would set a new one.

This method worked for a while however then the CRPS started in my left hip and I was really struggling. In my head I was just thinking “I can’t do this, its too much” but no matter how much I thought this, my legs just did not stop running. We got to the 10 mile mark and Dad said we would just keep doing a mixture of both running and walking up to the 12 mile point. Dad was suffering with terrible cramp by this point and my hip felt like it was going to pop out of the socket any second. More and more people around us were walking too but everyone was so determined to keep going to the end! I have never had a 2 mile run feel that long before but today it felt like it was never going to end, like one of those impossible mazes you cannot get out of!

UP understand pain

We eventually made it to the 12 mile mark and at this point, the walking was more painful than the running for me however for dad it was the opposite because of his cramp! So it then worked out that while Dad was pace walking, I was jogging beside him at the same pace and that is how we got through the final mile. As we finished that final mile, we were on the straight path in Hyde Park and we could see the finish. It was so close but considering the pace we were going it was still a way away. But slowly we got past the 800m mark. Then the 600m mark. As we went over the 400m mark Dad began to run again, and I suddenly felt my legs kick into a new gear. Very suddenly the finish line was right in front of us and Dad grabbed my hand. I could feel the tears coming up into my eyes. As we came over the finish line, hand in hand, together as we had started I burst into tears and fell into Dad. We had actually done it.

6 months ago when I agreed to do this I never actually thought I would make it to the end. Until I felt that feeling of getting over the finish line, it had always completely felt like a dream! I was so proud and happy my dad agreed to do it with me as I knew I would never have got round it without him. He really is my hero.

We got our medals, banana’s and free water before trying to make our way out through the crowd to find everyone. We knew Richmond would probably have finished already but we were not sure about Jo. We eventually caught up with Mum and everyone and once again I cried as soon as I saw Mum (I am blaming the tiredness for this!!) and just felt like I wanted to collapse on the floor. We caught up about it then found out that Jo had just finished so we decided to wait till they got back before we left. I sat on the floor and stretched my legs out however I struggled to get back up so had to get Tom to lift me back up! Although my body felt tired, I didn’t feel physically tired, surprisingly I felt okay! Everyone finally was all back so once we had all caught up we headed back home, with our branded hoodies, wooden medals and pride beaming from us.

CRPS UK charity for complex regional pain syndrome

6 years ago I never would have even contemplated doing something like this let alone actually do it. I am a very different person to 6 years okay, some things for the worse and some things for the better. My determination to prove people and myself wrong about my condition is definitely something for the better. Today made me feel more normal than the average person as not many people are able to say they have completed a half marathon but now I can and if anything, it has made me want to do more. Maybe not another half marathon for a while but who knows what will happen in the future so why not enjoy life to the full now. Today I am proud of where I have come in the last 6 years, and hopefully in another 6 years time I will be even prouder.

The final thing I want to say is a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me, to everyone that has supported me and wished me luck and of course to my amazing family, especially Dad. Everyone was hesitant at first about me doing it however I hope I have proved to them that I am a lot stronger than I look. The amount I have managed to raise is amazing and will do such amazing things to help others not as lucky as me. So a huge THANK YOU goes out to everyone and my last piece of advice will be that if there is anything you have ever thought of doing but think you cant, just do it because trust me you will not regret it!!!!!