Welcome to this blog about pacing and pain management! Pacing is a great way to gain control over your persistent pain symptoms, become more active and ultimately lead a healthier lifestyle. We’ll be exploring how pacing can help you experience less pain, have more energy and have a better social life. So, join us as we look at the positive changes that people with pain can make by using pacing.

Living with pain can be a challenge when it comes to striking the right balance between doing too much and doing too little. Do you find yourself stuck in a cycle of over-activity and under-activity? If you’re looking for a tool to help you take control of your pain, then pacing might be the answer.

What is pacing?

Pacing is a great tool for managing persistent pain as it helps you to gradually increase your activity levels, become fitter and healthier. It’s about knowing when to take a break from an activity before pain, tiredness or other symptoms become too much. You break up activities into active and rest periods, which reduces pain and helps you to achieve more. Pacing is taking a break before you need a break. It can help you reach your goals without your pain increasing or fatigue forcing you to stop.

People living with persistent pain find that pacing is one of the most important skills to learn and use. It’s not about decreasing the intensity of an exercise or doing less activity. Instead, it’s about changing the way you approach activities or exercises to help you increase strength and stamina.

Pacing is a tool that helps you increase your tolerance through gradually increased activity. The main benefit of pacing is that it gives structure to your day, helping you to feel more in control. As you keep practising, the amount you can do will gradually grow.

What is your adaptive coping strategy?

We all use different strategies when managing pain. Some are more helpful than others. Unhelpful strategies include over-activity (doing too much activity or too many tasks over a short space of time), under-activity (doing too little activity), and ‘boom and bust’ (using pain and energy levels as a guide to activity, which leads to a cycle of over-activity and under-activity). (feeling good one day and then doing lots, only to realise later that it was too much!)

Next, let’s explore how to switch to a pacing style and adopt a more useful strategy to manage persistent pain and lead a healthier lifestyle.

How to do pacing

1) Establish a baseline

Your baseline is the level of activity you can do without your pain flaring up or you becoming too fatigued. To begin, you need to establish a baseline for each activity. It’s important to not compare your starting level of activity to what you used to do before your pain or injury, as this can lead to an over-activity/under-activity cycle.

2) Plan your day and activity

Once you have established your baseline, it’s time to time your activities and plan ahead. You can use an effort scale of 1-10 to assess the effort level of an activity and make sure you don’t overdo it. For example, you may decide that cleaning the kitchen windows is a level 6 on your effort scale.

Aim for an effort level of 4-7 on the scale. If it’s 3 or less, experiment with spending more time on the activity and/or doing it faster. If it’s 8 or more, reduce it with more breaks and/or by doing it for a shorter time.

You can also plan to perform activities in chunks of time with rest periods. The rest periods could include stretching or relaxation breathing to help you manage your pain level while completing the task. Plus, you can make the rest period enjoyable by doing activities like listening to music or talking with a friend.

It’s also important to remember to pace yourself during sedentary activities like sitting, reading, and computer work. These activities are often overlooked when pacing but can still cause pain due to the constant stress on the neck and back.

Once you have set your baseline, you should gradually increase your tolerance. Use goal setting to help you, set short- and long-term goals and involve others in your pacing plan.

Now you know the basics of pacing and how it can help you take control of your persistent pain. So, why not give it a try and see the positive changes it can make in your life.

If you would like any further help with your pain you can book in for an appointment with Mark or look out for some of our workshops.

Mark Jessop- Chiropractor/ Better back coach

Goal setting

Value Based Goal Setting

One of the things that is important to establish when starting treatment or even if you are having continuing treatment for a longer term or recurring issue is…. what you are hoping to achieve?

Why are you here? Why have you sought treatment?

An instinctive answer is to say “get rid of pain” or “reduce pain” or “stop pain coming back”

They are all useful answers and a main driver as to why people will seek care. But we want to delve deeper than that. Why do you want to get rid of the pain? Why have you sought treatment now and not earlier or at a later date?

Being in pain can change lots of things and make you feel like a different person.  It can prevent us doing things that matter to us. Pain can:

  • make us do less overall
  • mean we do less of or even stop things we enjoy

Lets think about what your pain means for you….

  • What does it interfere with?
  • Does it stop you doing anything?
  • Are there activities that are not as enjoyable anymore because of the pain?

If I had a magic wand and I said to you that tomorrow you would not have to worry about your pain. What would that mean? How would your life be different?

Choose one or two activities or examples and write them down.  Then quantify where you are on a scale of 1-10 in relation to being able to do that activity. 0 is you can’t even contemplate doing anything at all related to it and 10 is you can do it without any issues at all.

This is important as it can shift our mindset to a towards a goal rather than away from pain. Moving towards a goal as opposed to away from pain is a subtle change but can make a big difference. It helps us develop a solution focused mindset and approach. Below is a video of our Chiropractor Mark talking about value based goal setting.

SMART goals

Now we have a goal and our reason why it can be good to get even more clear with it by making it into a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for

S Specific

M Measurable

A Attainable

R Relavent

T Time bound

For example a goal of “I want to get fitter” turns into “In one month I would like to be able to run 1K or 1000 meters without stopping”

Another example “I want to be able to play with my grandkids” turns into “by the start of the school holidays in 4 weeks I would like to be able to push my grandkids on the swings for more than 5 minues”

Below is a video of our Chiropractor Mark talking about SMART goal setting.

Chiropractor Mark talking about SMART goals

Goal setting is a valuable aspect for treatment and self management of pain. I hope you have found this useful.

Mark Jessop- Chiropractor at Prime Therapy Clinic

Choosing the right mattress

As a Chiropractor I see many people seeking relief from their back/ neck pain and a common query people have is regarding their mattress. Do I need a new one? Is a hard mattress better than a soft one? Would I benefit from memory foam?

This is hardly surprising as in some research done by the BCA 8% of Brits questioned claim that the act of sleeping or their mattress itself is a trigger for back or neck pain. The research also found that about one in ten (11%, in fact) claim that their neck or back pain actually prevents them from sleeping

Here are some tips that you should think about when considering your mattress.

  • You should change your mattress at least every 8 years
  • Your mattress needs to be supportive and comfortable. When lying on your side your spine should be parallel to the mattress.
  • Your mattress should not be too soft- or your spine will sag, neither should it be too hard or your spine will bow.
  • Different body shapes have different requirements from a mattress. Broad shoulders or curvy hips will need a softer mattress to allow the spine to sit in a neutral position whereas a straighter figure needs a slightly firmer mattress to achieve this.
  • When choosing a mattress it is important to get one which is good quality.  Try and go for one with a high spring count, as this will provide more even support.
  • Memory foam mattresses can be great and many people get a lot of benefit from this type of mattress. However they can be very expensive and not everyone finds them comfortable. See if you can try one first if you are considering this as an option.


If you are waking up in pain or pain is interfering with your sleep you should consult a professional such as a Chiropractor who will assess your back and neck to try and establish the cause.


Sleep well!