Problem pain in sport

Persistent pain and injury in sport

As a premise to the ACPSEM symposium on Saturday, attendees may find this brief blog useful before our session together. Problem pain in sport exists as a challenge, which we must face and address. Some still argue that pain in sport and exercise is somehow different to that of mainstream life. This can only be a limiting belief.

There’s a lot to get into the session, but we’ll give it a good go. It’s interactive, so be ready to get stuck in to get something out of it. This is not a lecture on how to do it. Whatever ‘it’ is. This is about getting the best of your athletes and patients. And there’s only one start point to that: you.

You and pain

What is your approach to chronic pain? Does it excite you or turn you away? What are your beliefs about chronic pain? Do you really understand it? Do you suffer? What do you do with your own pain? What are your biases? What are your limiting beliefs that hold you back? There are many more questions to work out where you are on this one. I’ll let you ponder for now.

We are going to look at your strengths. This is no different to your athletes who seek results. This is coaching, which you are using as a means to encourage and inspire the people who come to see you. How can we build on what works? We self-coach, moment to moment, keeping ourselves in a peak state to perform as a clinician. We are following our MAP: mastery, autonomy & purpose.

What’s your MAP? Why do you do what you do? Is it clear in your approach, attitude and actions? It should be

A task, if you like, is to write down your personal philosophy in 25 words or less ~ challenging?

The ways we get the best of ourselves each day are the same as those we encourage our patients to use to get the best of themselves. We coach them to coach themselves. There are many ways to do this and numerous practices and tools we fill their toolbox with as we create a programme for them to follow. We will look at a couple of important ones in the session as examples. We will also have a go at a few practices that I interweave into the session, just like I do in the full day version. This has to be immersive for you to learn — having the experience and feeling it fully.


Pain physiology won’t feature in any detail, but the modern thinking about pain and what we can do is a theme from start to finish. It’s worth considering that the more we focus on pain, the worse the outcome. The more we focus on the person, disrupting what is holding them back and creating new patterns and habits that head towards their picture of success, the better the outcome. The bigger picture is key. To understand pain is really delving into what it is to be alive, to be human, to be conscious and how we generate perceptions, which are our reality.

My hope is to give you a flavour of this rather huge but exciting area. Much needs to change if we are going to reduce the enormous global suffering (pain is the No 1 global health burden). Are you up for some disruption?

See you there!

Following this will be a Pain Coach Workshop in London on Sat Oct 20th and at The University of Central Lancashire on Sat Nov 3rd ~ if you want a whole day because you are looking to build your practice and understanding of pain, come along!

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