Category Archives: Pain strategies


Never give up — a motivational talk

Diana Nyad swam 100 miles across a stretch of water between Cuba and Florida. She just kept going. The internal drive and the support that fuelled this drive kept her going in some of the most dangerous waters on the planet.

Rehabilitation and recovery from an injury or painful problem requires dedicated perseverance. But to optimise this perseverance we need to be motivated and inspired. We need to understand and know why; we need a purpose to drive us forward and keep moving forward. There are plateaus, flare-ups (when the symptoms and pain can increase), good days and bad days — life’s normal variation. Knowing why this happens, what we can do and why we are doing it keeps us moving forward.

Listen to Diana Nyed speak here about her experience and keeping going.

For information about our pain treatment programmes that are driven and inspired by neuroscience, explore the website and contact us on 07932 689081 to move forward


Want to feel happier, suffer less pain & anxiety, think more clearly?

Mindfulness for pain, health and performance

Mindfulness for pain, health and performance

Mindfulness programme

The brief practice of mindfulness for just 10 minutes each day has a positive affect upon physical and psychological health.

Mindful practice forms part of our treatment and proactive training programmes for chronic pain and health problems. However, learning the practice is beneficial for anyone who wishes to reduce feelings of tension, anxiety and stress; improve sleep, concentration and clarity of thought; and overall have a healthier and happier experience of life.

Mindfulness itself is very simple and practical. Much like we train our body in the gym to be fitter and stronger, mindfulness trains our ability to be aware of what is happening in the present moment, and without judgement.

How much time do you spend on autopilot? How much time do you spend noticing what is going on right now as opposed to dwelling on the past or constructing a future in your mind? Does the past or future make you feel bad or anxious? Do you relive scenarios that make you feel unhappy? The problem is that the brain does not distinguish between what is happening in reality and what is happening in our mind. The body still responds, often by protecting itself using different systems in the body such as the nervous system, the immune system and autonomic nervous system (‘fright or flight’). Gaining insight into the mechanisms and becoming skilled at being present not only creates time, but also disarms the effects of drifting into the past or the future.

Enhancing the potency of mindfulness

Alongside the practice of mindfulness, a simple exercise habit that includes strategies at work will create the conditions for the body systems to cultivate health. A rounded programme of physical and mental training that interlaces with normal living improves performance, sleep, clarity of thought, sense of self, social interactions and immune responses. These factors are related and positively affect each other once healthy habits are learned.

Call us now to book your first mindfulness session: 07932 689081

The Specialist Pain Physio Clinics in London – expert treatment and training to tackle the problem of chronic pain and injury.


5 reasons why I use manual therapy for cases of persisting pain

Some will argue that manual therapy — joint and/or soft tissue techniques — has no role in chronic pain. I disagree. Why?

(In no particular order)

1. Touch is normal and it is something that we do when we care.
2. Hands on treatment is expected when you visit a physiotherapist or physical therapist.
3. Stimulation in the area of the body that hurts can feel good. If it causes little or no pain, the brain is happy and interpreting the stimulus (touch, pressure, movement) as being safe. More of that please! A great way to desensitise and for the experience of pleasure in the affected area.
4. Change the brain’s output by addressing the area with therapy that feels good — that’s the output feeling good, along with reflexive reduction in protection.
5. What do you do if you bang your elbow? Rub it. In chronic pain, you may need to think about how and when to rub it, but nonetheless, rubbing it needs. Combine rubbing with visual feedback and there you have a pain relieving strategy.


Feel good in the New Year – here’s some simple tips

Facing the ups and downs of life is a normal part of the ride. Clearly some individuals will face steeper challenges than others. How we tackle these problems will vary according to what we know, our coping skills and resilience at that particular time.

From where do the ways in which we deal with these issues emerge? We are certainly not taught in school how to ‘change gears’ when we feel below par. There is no lesson on maintaining a positive outlook despite the circumstance or a GCSE on self-preservation.

By and large we learn our coping skills by observing and mirroring the responses of significant others, listening to the advice of elders and develop ways of responding whilst on the job. We then create strategies that fit with our current belief and world philosophy. Let us not also forget the essential ingredients of our make-up (genetics) and how they interact with the environment as part of this complex process of adaptation (epigenetics).

Here are some useful strategies that are we commonly use in the clinic to help individuals move forwards, and to fortify healthy notions of self for the benefit of physical health. Go on, change your chemistry and feel good!

1. Practicing a mindful approach to life: be aware of what is happening now with all your senses as opposed to living in the past or future in your head.

2. Smile. At others, whether you know them or not.

3. Hold a pencil between your teeth to activate ‘smiling’ muscles. Look at yourself in the mirror.

4. Watch a favourite funny film. Laughter changes your internal chemistry for the better.

5. The left ear stroke. This is simple conditioning but is a way of changing how you feel. Think of something really good and positive. When you have that warm, glowing feeling that signifies pleasure, stroke your left ear with your left index finger. Practice this often until you find that you can stroke the ear and evoke the very same positive feeling. Once you are able to do this, it means that you have ready access to positive emotions whenever you need.

6. Quiet time. Sister Wendy was recently interviewed, making a pertinent point about the lack of time we spend sitting quietly without distraction of the phone, Internet and television.

7. Observe others who look happy. Watch their expressions and body language. Allow your mirror neurons to soak up all the positive vibes.

8. Surround yourself with positive thinking people. Or at least ponder on those who have an optimistic outlook and manner. Read about successful or inspiring people, noting how they achieved their goals. It is usually by perseverance and hard work.



Top 5 tips I’ve given to patients this year

There are a number of key messages that I deliver to patients during their programme

I see this as ‘drip feeding’ vital information that changes the perception of threat and hence alters the way in which pain is experienced. We know that understanding pain has a very real benefit by changing the meaning of the pain, i.e. informational medicine. We also know that negative messages can have a detrimental effect upon pain and also the way in which behaviours are constructed subsequent to such messages, e.g. ‘You’re always going to have this pain’ or ‘you’ve slipped a disc’. Unfortunately if such language is used, it can be so potent as to change the way in which the listener perceives their problem and hence chooses to move. This, often at a subconscious level (most of our thinking that influences our behaviours).

Lets get accurate in our understanding and reconceptualise pain so that we can know that it is changeable.

Here are common pieces of information that I pass onto and re-emphasise during treatment & training programmes.

1. Pain is constructed by the brain and felt in the area of the body that is perceived to be in danger. Think of phantom limb pain.

2. Pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage. Think of the discomfort of a paper cut and battlefield tales of significant trauma that is painless at the time.

3. Regular and consistent movement & positional change throughout the day from the start to nourish the tissues and representation of the body in the brain.

4. Exercise doesn’t have to mean the gym or going running. There is always some form of activity that can be started with the right baseline & instruction to develop confidence and healthy notions of movement.

5. There are a range of influences upon the pain: stress, fatigue, emotional state, expectation, attention, physical activity changes (new activity or more intensity).



A quick word on… ‘checking in’

‘Checking in’ is a simple task that involves a brief self-monitoring of how one is feeling physically and mentally. This can be useful before starting exercise as a way of identifying the mindset and energy levels. From here, the programme can be modified as required so that exercise can be taken at an appropriate level.

If the mindset is negative or fixed, checking-in provides an opportunity to work upon changing such a mindset. Sometimes the mindset is created by a deeper set of beliefs that need more focused work to effect change.

Physically, a poor nights sleep, fatigue, accumulation of activity, a long period of sitting and tension from underlying stress and anxiety can also be identified during the check-in. From here, the outcome of the exercise can be assessed accurately.

Performance of exercises and the body responses vary just as it does on the sports field and at work. Our physical and mental state at any given time will affect our performance. Having a strategy to see where you are will provide a learning opportunity and a way of understanding how and why you are performing at that moment. It is simple, and all those who I suggest this technique to report that it is very useful. Start right away – check-in and see what you are thinking, why you are thinking it, how you are feeling and what could underpin the sensations.

Keep following for more ‘quick words’.