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Pacing Skills Group

Pacing is a 3-week (2-hour sessions) program designed to help you do more of what is important to you, reduce flare-ups and increase activity levels.

Persistent Pain leads to changes in what people do and the way they do things. These changes vary between people but typically can include:

  • Giving up work or working on restricted duties
  • Doing less housework or less around the garden
  • Reducing enjoyable activities including hobbies and socialising
  • Avoiding new activities and placed
  • Resting or lying down a lot during the day

Letting the pain level dictate your activity level becomes a habit, which can seem hard to change.

How does this happen?

How do you know when you've overdone it? Most people push themselves until the pain tells them to stop. Then they rest until the pain settles and then they try again. This pattern can start to repeat itself and in time, the pain is in control of what you do, rather than you.

Each episode of pushing through pain, resting, pushing through pain again can start to increase your fear of doing that activity. You can start to avoid those tasks that you remember will bring on your pain. As your activity levels decline, so does your general fitness, flexibility and strength. It becomes harder and takes more effort to do even the simple things that didn't cause you pain.

So, having a habit of pushing through pain eventually causes more frequent flare-ups and higher levels of pain and disability in the long term.

Many people with persistent pain have a feeling that there must be a better way. They have got into this "over-do and under-do" or "boom and bust" pattern but don't know how to get out of it. You might feel you have no choice but to push through the pain and pay for it later..."if I don't do the vacuuming then nobody will". Perhaps you also feel that keeping busy distracts from the pain and would rather cope that way than "sit around and wait for the pain to come anyway".

The trouble with this habit is that as well as the gradual loss of physical strength and fitness, you become less able to plan ahead, in case the pain flares up, you lose the pleasure of achieving the things you want to do in your life, and once again the pain is in control of what you do and where you go. Because how much you can do depends on the level of pain, we call this way of doing things a 'pain contingent' approach in technical terms.

How do you break this cycle or pattern of 'pain contingent' behaviour?

The first step is to accept that you are in this cycle and try and commit to having a genuine go at trying to get out of it. The rest we can teach you!

Read on for Information on how to make a change to that pattern

We advocate using PACING STRATEGIES which give you a way of breaking everyday activities into smaller chunks so that your are doing little bits often. Pacing also entails finding the middle road by not under-doing and over-doing. Pacing enables you to:

  • Do more of what is important to you
  • Have fewer pain flare ups
  • Reduce your pain in the long term to a level of 'only as bad as it needs to be'
  • Increase your activity levels in the long term

Pacing uses a "time contingent" or "values based" approach to activity rather than a "pain contingent" approach. This means that the activities you do in a course of a day are determined by what you WANT to do or what you CHOOSE to do based on your values. The size of the 'chunks' of activity is determined by time spent doing it, or some other measure, rather tan simply going until the pain stops you or the job is done.

The measure you are using tells you when to stop the activity and enables you to gradually increase the time or distance you complete the activity over, or the number of repetitions you make.

If you've read this far, you may well have already decided that you are looking for a better way than the "pain contingent" approach to activity. There are a couple of decades of solid scientific research behind our recommendation of the values based and time contingent approach.

By following through with the switch, through PACING, you will start off with a smaller amount of activity but in the long run, by having fewer "boom-bust" cycles, you will find that it will pay off. This could well be the new approach you have been looking for!

Why do I need to go to Pacing Group?

Behaviour change means forming new habits. Whether it's quitting smoking, losing weight or training a new pet! We believe strongly that a supportive group led by an experienced coach will get you motivated and making changes as easily and sustainably as possible. The group program offers a structure and some expert guidance to help you move beyond the "pain contingent" plateau and upwards to new levels of ability, in a way that individual sessions don't match. We look forward to seeing you soon.