I was very pleased to be asked to speak at the Adcock Ingram Sports Science & Rehabilitation division launch roadshow — a whistle-stop tour of South Africa.
Innovative TensCare CEO Neil Wright asked me whether I would give a series of talks in South Africa (Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town). He had heard that I bring an ‘edge’ to the topic of pain. I like to think so, but only in terms of challenging out-dated thinking that holds us back. What a great opportunity, I thought. A chance to spread important messages via Understand Pain (UP) and to learn about how chronic and complex pain is addressed in South Africa.
The new Adcock Ingram division was being launched to local physiotherapists, chiropractors and biokineticists, and the theme of the events was pain. How could I resist? Adcock Ingram are engaging with therapists and clinicians in a new way that is generating a great deal of excitement. This is based on creating great relationships and distributing high quality products that compliment rehabilitation, including the range of devices from TensCare.
Both the team putting on the roadshow and the attendees were buzzing! The feedback from the people in the audience was very positive. There was a thirst for quality pain education, and it would be great to follow up with full Pain Coach workshops.
In my experience, TENS is under-used for chronic pain. Whilst TENS will not solve the problem, it can offer relief that helps the journey forwards. As an inexpensive and simple form of self-treatment, it is a good option. The key is that the user understands how it works and how to best use the unit. This can take some time and practice, but with instruction, discovering the right parameters can be found more swiftly.
I shared the stage with Nick Martichenko from Canada. Nick spoke about the use of tape and the understood mechanisms, whilst I focused on pain and pain coaching. I entitled the session ‘The Challenge of Pain’ as a doff of the hat to Pat Wall, the founder of modern pain biology, who wrote a book of that name. It was Wall’s work that resulted in the development of the TENS machine.
Three days, three events
On the road…
The roadshow put on by Adcock Ingram was very high quality from start to finish. They really wanted to make sure that every detail was covered. This was appreciated by the attendees who were most enthusiastic about the event. There was a new precedent being set, and the beginning of a new engagement between Adcock Ingram and therapists/clinicians.
I was particularly impressed by the way that the sales team approached their work. Selected and led by Juan Schaerer and Sheila Keshav, this group has come together in a short period of time. There was a great deal of positivity within the team, supporting each other, and getting jobs done from start to finish. I was privileged to be able to hear some the individual stories about how they came to join the team.
From a pain education perspective the roadshow was a great opportunity to talk about ways in which we can help people understand their pain and move on to improve their lives. That’s the purpose of UP. I hope that everyone else enjoyed their time as much I did. This was a super start and I will be very interested to learn how this story unfolds.
In a week’s time I head off to South Africa to deliver a series of Understand Pain talks. This is a great opportunity to connect with clinicians, therapists and others who work with people suffering pain. Invited by TensCare, we will be working together on this tour to educate, enable and empower people to provide best care for pain.
TensCare: We provide drug-free pain relief for the long-term treatment of chronic pain conditions and the relief of the acute pain during childbirth
One of the main issues and reasons why pain is such an enormous global health burden is the misunderstanding of what it is and how it arises. The predominant approach remains biomedical despite the fact that this model does not deliver solutions. Society needs us to build on our knowledge about pain and offer person-first care: it is the person who feels pain, not the body part.
In brief, I will be talking about the purpose of pain, why it persists and what we can do to help and encourage people to move on and live fulfilling lives in their own unique way. This is using strengths based coaching together with the latest pain and related sciences, focusing on meeting the person’s needs. This is the essence of Pain Coaching, which is a skillset and way of delivering care that sees a person first, not a patient or a list of problems. Instead, we see someone with strengths and the potential to improve their life. We guide and facilitate this growth in a positive way.
My hope and aim as ever, is to bring the latest understanding and thinking about pain to society in a practical way.
Towards the end of the trip I plan to run #upandrun 13 in and around Cape Town, taking in Table Mountain. This is the awareness raising part of the Understand Pain social enterprise work, as I continue with monthly ultramarathons.
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.
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
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
Start your Pain Coaching today by visiting the Project page and arrange your first session.
Undoubtedly, choosing the way of the vegan is gaining momentum. Each person will have their reasons. Here are mine.
There’s little doubt in my mind that I have chosen a vegan diet over the past couple of months to test the effects in me. It is likely I have been influenced by notable ultrarunners such as Scott Jurek and Capra Corbett.
(Being slightly philosophical for a moment, any decision that we make is the culmination of a range of beliefs, most of which are hidden away from our conscious awareness).
So how has it gone? It’s been interesting, that’s for sure, including other people’s responses. All in all, I can summarise by saying that I feel more energised, my running times appear to have improved (maybe I’m pushing harder?) and my digestive system seems to be working better (less bloating, discomfort, lighter). It is early days.
At the end of the blog are some of my favourite vegan things to eat
Initially being vegan meant a very different shopping experience. I had to really think about what I was going to eat and hence what I needed to buy. It has become easier with new habits of where to look, such as knowing where the oat milk is located.
Then there is the challenge of being vegan and eating a healthy diet. The two do not have to co-exist. It would be easy to go for processed vegan food, all neatly packed at the end of one aisle in my local supermarket. When you look, there are plenty of vegan options, replacing day to day foods: cheese, sweets, biscuits, chocolate, bacon, sausages etc. I have had some scrumptious vegan sausages!
A recent trip to Liverpool meant finding places to eat. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was rather easy, with plenty of vegan options. I even saw a vegan chicken burger ad on a huge billboard from a well known fast food company — not my thing, but an interesting shift.
Beyond being curious and seeking to build wellness, there is also the positive effect upon the planet. Each person doing what they can adds up. This could be reducing plastic, easing back on animal products, or less travel.
From a scientific perspective much more research is needed. The recent film Game Changers provoked controversy with opponents claiming that the studies used were poor quality. However, if the reaction is to reduce the consumption of meat, this can only be a benefit. Many of the people who adjusted their diets subsequently were probably ready for change for different reasons. Whilst some of the quoted research may be inconclusive or lack certainty, it is pointing us in a particular direction.
Veganism is growing. And with the increasing numbers of people choosing this approach, there must be further research to understand the consequences. For instance, are there risks that need countering with vitamin supplements?
Only a couple of months in, I am unable to make any concrete claims about my case study of one. However, I will stick with it for now. Besides, much of the food is so delicious!
Some of may favourite dishes so far…
Vegan Indian food with jackfruit, soya, tofu and vegetables
Roasted vegetables with tofu
Coffee with oat milk
Avocado & green vegetables
Fruit smoothies with chia seeds
Granola with oat milk or soya
Vegan sausages for breakfast with beans and mushrooms
Bean burritos with home made guacamole and salsa, plus vegan cheese
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.
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.
As the UP story gathers momentum, in particular the #upandrun project (ultrarunning, marathon running and the UP education programme), we are delighted to welcome two new UP ambassadors: Chris and Jeff. Both will be running for #upandrun so keep an eye out for blogs, pictures and always the hashtag!
If you see #upandrun hashtag, give us a shout out! Take a pic and post it on Twitter or Instagram.
Chronic pain affects so many people for so many reasons. The measure of our success will be how many people we can inspire to move on to live their best lives.
This week look out for…
Richmond running along the Thames Path tomorrow (Thursday) from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier
Next week look out for…
The UP talk and workshop on Weds 3rd July at 2pm at The Groves Medical Centre. Get your place here >> tickets
…that 75% would NOT stop running, even if it was found to be bad for you. Those who would stop (25%) ‘..were older, more likely to be married, had more children, were running less, were more health oriented, were less achievement oriented, and had less psychological motivations for running.’
One of the most fielded questions is why? Why do you do it? Last weekend I ran for a couple of hours to drive my wife home. Yesterday I ran for a few hours with an old friend (old in that we have known each other for almost 40 years, not that he is old…) to a BBQ. We arrived sweaty but not smelly. No-one wanted to hug us. You just fit it in, the mileage that is. Early starts, a mode of transport, when home alone etc etc.
Reading some of the writings of the great ultra runners, all will give their reasons. They are personal and varied. Some of my reasons include pursuing a purpose (#upandrun to ease suffering and improve lives affected by chronic pain), wanting to know how far I can go, pushing beyond the pain barrier, exploring consciousness, feeling fit and well (despite consistent aches and pains from the running — paradox?), seeing places, being alone, meeting people, being part of something a bit mad, to impress my wife :), and more. This is in no particular order, although it is often my purpose that keeps me going.
This coming Thursday I am running from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier along the Thames Path before doing my afternoon clinic: an ultra before work. An ultra is anything beyond a marathon (26.2 miles). This is part of the prep for Race to the Stones on July 13th, which is 100k.
I’ll be setting off early, so if you are out on a run, walk or commute along the river and you see me, do give me a shout, tweet a pic or on Instagram using the #upandrun hashtag.
The next Understand Pain Talk and workshop is on July 3rd >> read here
It’s been a great weekend in Brighton, but now it’s straight back into training to be ready for the Isle of Wight Challenge at the start of May. That means a 20k trot today.
The route yesterday was lined with supporters giving enthusiastic encouragement. Some of the stretches were long and straight, meaning that as you were running, you could see the sea of bobbing heads stretched out in front for some distance. Coming back from the power station to Madeira Drive, the 360 and the pier were landmarks. With the wind blowing at you, they seemed so far away!
The final stretch to the finish line is an incredible moment. The crowd are going absolutely crazy and because you are stretched out, it feels like you are the only runner. Suddenly you’re filled with energy and find yourself sprinting (it feels like sprinting…) to the line. Awesome!
So now onto a longer run that is a totally different experience. My preference is off road, trailing running so although this is 53k x 2 (Sat/Sun), for me there’s no sense of needing to hit a pace. Instead it is about enjoying the ride, meeting others who are in for the long haul and marvelling at the scenery of the island’s coastal path.
As ever, this is for UP, so do follow us with the #upandrun as we seek to raise the awareness of the problem of pain, especially chronic pain, and what we can do as a society to ease suffering.