Pacing and chronic pain

Introducing Pacing - The Concept

Pacing is important in helping you do things better inspite of pain.  To pace, means arranging the things and activities that you have to do, all through the day.  This helps the body to have short rests and frequent changes in body positions, so that you will not overwork the body and cause your pain to be very much worse (also called a pain flare).  Pacing will also help you have more control to the activities you do everyday.

Imagine you are driving a car; after driving for some time, it needs to rest and top up petrol. This will allow the car to travel a longer distance. Otherwise, the car will stop when it runs out of petrol.

How To Pace

The concept is simple. A key part of pacing is to take regular short breaks before the pain becomes very strong.  Switching between activities and the postures, can be helpful too. A short break means doing some stretches, walking to get a drink, and not lying down and resting.

Ask yourself what activities are painful to do.  For example, climbing stairs.  "Can you take 3 flights of stairs? No, its painful. How about 2 flights? Maybe. How about 1 flight? Yes. Let's start with climbing 1 flight of stairs."

Simple rules of Pacing

  1. Measure your activity
  2. For example, choose an activity which you have pain in doing i.e. walking. Measure how long you can walk before pain begins.

  3. Set your limit
  4. If you can walk for 100mins, take a portion of it which you can comfortably do and set as the Limit (i.e. 30mins).

  5. Stick to your limit
  6. This is the most important part of the pacing process. It is important to follow the limits. Once the limit has been reached, allow yourself a rest, even if you are in the middle of it.

  7. Increase your limit gradually
  8. Once you feel a sense of control, you can then increase the limit slowly. Start increasing the amount of time spent in the activities e.g. walking. You may start with every alternate days (e.g. Monday, Wednesday and Friday), then progress to daily. This will help you reduce the pain flare-ups related to you doing more activities. It will also increase your stamina levels.