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Take control of your pain today! – Techniques to manage your pain with Pacing Techniques

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Do you have pain which is stopping you from enjoying life to its full potential? When you have pain it can stop you from doing the things you love and might change the way you can address daily activities. A great way to help manage your pain and get back to feeling yourself again is a technique called Pacing.

What is pacing?

Pacing is a strategy to find out how much of a certain activity you can do without your pain flaring up and then maintaining the right amount of input without over or under doing the activity to increase your tolerance to reduce pain you may experience in the future. By doing small amounts at a time but doing it frequently you can find a balance between exercise and rest which will help reduce your pain in the long term.


Finding a happy median means you can be more active, participate with less flare ups and manage your pain more effectively in the future.

How does pacing work?

Pacing works by finding a baseline of an activity you want to do that doesn’t cause a flare up and gradually increasing how much work you do by 10% each week. By focusing on a measurement such as time, distance or repetitions to indicate when to stop an exercise instead of relying on pain as a guide to tell you when you have done enough exercise allows you to increase your ability to tolerate activity better, avoid flare ups and give you the confidence to know how much activity your body can handle therefore allowing you to have more confidence to participate more in society and every day activities.

The FIVE steps to pacing:

1. Find your Baseline:

  • Baseline is an amount of time, distance or reps you can do an activity for without flaring up your pain.

  • Make sure your baseline is measurable and record it.

  • Your baseline is set when you start getting your most limiting symptom (e.g. pain, fatigue, stiffness)

  • Find an Average

  • Repeat this 3 times over 3 separate days and find your average measure

  • Work out 20% less than this as a baseline (your average x 0.8) to start at for this particular activity. This will allow you to build up your tolerance without flaring up your pain

  • Repeat measurements if changing activity.

  • Remember that it is normal to have some post exercise soreness for approx 20-30 minutes and this is not a flare up.

2. Repeat task daily for the first week

  • Use your baseline (e.g. distance walked, time sat at desk, arm raises completed) and repeat everyday for the first week.

3. Slowly increase your work by 10% after each week

  • Stick to the plan

  • Remember not to over-do how much work you do even if you feel you are having a good day. It is important to stick to the amount you have calculated for that week.

  • Record what you are doing

  • Record your daily exercises so you can maintain a consistent work load without over or under doing your exercises

4. Develop SMART goals

  • What are SMART goals?

  • Specific (specific to what you are doing)

  • Measurable (able to measure with time, distance or repetitions)

  • Attainable (they are achievable)

  • Realistic (able to be done by you)

  • Timely (has a time frame)

  • Example

  • I will be able to walk 200m everyday with my dog to the park without a break in 3 weeks time.

  • Write them down

5. Take time to relax

  • It is important to plan times of relaxation to allow yourself time to recover after or before strenuous tasks.

  • Even when having a bad day, continuing to do gentle relaxation exercises such as stretching or walking will allow you to cope with your pain better

Our physiotherapists and exercise physiologists have a great understanding of pain and Pacing strategies. We have seen the benefits that Pacing techniques can have in managing chronic pain so let us help you get started to empower you to take control of your pain.

Contact the clinic today to find out more information, or book in online to get started. WA Health Group is based in Hilton, only 7 minutes away from the heart of Fremantle.

WA Health Group from April 2015 will be seeing patients for all allied health services in Canning Vale. We will be located at Suite 7, 2 Queensgate Drive, Canning Vale WA 6155.


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