Listen to real stories from the clinic exploring the lived experience of recovering from pain.



A seven part podcast series.

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Jana's story


When Jana tore her ACL skiing she was confronted with multiple options for treatment and a problem she knew little about. Her story talks about maintaining control during a medical journey and the value of health literacy in treatment.

  • Early load management can speed up recovery

  • There’s always a mix of physical and psychological factors that affect performance, pain and recovery

  • Understanding pain and tissue healing can give you the confidence to push yourself

Dig deeper and learn more.

Understanding healing

Do you feel better yet? If you were injured more than three months ago then your body has undergone a huge amount of healing already. For Jana, learning about tissue healing helped her understand that it was ok to push herself, and gave her confidence to do higher load exercises. If you are avoiding movements out of a fear of injury, then find a health professional who can design a loading program toward recovery.

Measuring progress

How are you measuring your progress? Jana found that small changes, like improvements in her single leg squat, would give her a confidence boost and prove that recovery was happening. List some signs of progress that have already happened, then make a list of future milestones that will show you are on the right track.

Challenging exercise

Is your loading program sufficient? For Jana, the move to heavy barbell exercises like deadlifting was an important to step in recovery, and it triggered tissue changes that improved her performance. If you think it’s time to increase load then bring in a health professional, make a plan and get started.

Freya's story 



Freya'a low back pain was impacting every part of her life. It was a massive burden, and it wasn't going away. Her story is an uplifting recount of the steps she took to recover, and follows the experience of recovering from pain. 

  • Pain is a protector, not a damage detector

  • Your body learns pain

  • Pain can persist even after tissues heal

  • Movement can help re-train your pain system

Dig deeper and learn more.

Understanding pain

Are there any clues that your pain system is being over-protective? For Freya, her pain would respond in different ways to very similar events. This inconsistency revealed the complexity of her pain, and helped to show that pain was not simply a measure of damage – it was a more intelligent, more responsive system. If you would like to find out more, visit the recourses section of our website at Tame the Beast.

Challenging your assumptions

Are there things that you avoid because of your pain? Freya had avoided all sorts of things out of a felt need to protect her back. Not only was her body safe, but movement was a really important part of her recovery. Make a list of your own assumptions about injury and pain, and test these against the information on our website.

Moving more

Brainstorm ways to achieve more activity in your week. Freya never imagined herself as a ‘gym person’, but strength training became a fun and really useful part of her week and the results were transformative. If you think that you need more exercise, seek out a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist who can make an exercise plan specific to you.

Kristy's story 


Pain is influenced by all of our sensors and everything we know.

Kristy spent years holding back from activity in fear of damaging her body. By exploring her understanding and challenging her assumptions she was able to redefine her sense of what's possible and re-engage in the world through movement. 

  • There are many potential contributors to your pain experience

  • Pain education is treatment

  • Exercise is a great treatment for pain

  • Try and integrate movement into your daily life

Dig deeper and learn more.


The risk of inactivity is generally greater than the risk of activity - and the benefits of movement are generally significant. Write down any risks that you associate with movement, and if you are concerned about a medical reason, then speak to a health professional to get the green light for movement


If you are limiting the things you chose to do because of your pain then it can be helpful to challenge yourself and your assumptions. In most cases movement is not only safe, but it is a powerful stimulus to the body to encourage healing and growth. Jot down any reasons that you have to avoid particular exercises or movements, and then explore these with your health professional.


All sorts of things can influence your pain. Sounds, like Kristy’s crunching knees, can make you think the worst and avoid loading a particular body area. Do you experience any noises or sensations aside from pain that influence your perception or behaviour? Are these genuine reasons to move differently?

Hayley's story 

The power of knowledge, and best practice in pain treatment.

Hayley is a pain researcher and an avid snow boarder! When she fell on the last day of her ski trip it caused a complex fracture of her arm and nerve damage. Hayley was able to apply her knowledge of pain in a very real way, and her story shows the power of knowledge and understanding when treating pain. 

  • We are healing machines

  • Healing is irresistible!

  • Lots of factors combine to create our pain experience

  • Understanding pain helps

Dig deeper and learn more.

Tracking progress

What easily measurable marker could you use to track your recovery? Hayley found that increases in elbow movement were a useful tracker of progress. This was a powerful reminder that she was improving, even when it was slow.


What is your relationship with pain medication? Hayley found that they were incredibly helpful, but realised that it was a relationship that really had to end. Her break-up letter is a neat example of moving forward. What would you write in a letter to your pain medication?

Social interactions

How could you change your interactions with others to help your recovery? Hayley decided that repeatedly telling her housemates about her pain was no longer helpful, and requested they stop talking about her pain at home. Perhaps your own social interactions are contributing to your pain – is there anything you could change?

Pain knowledge

Write down three things that you don’t understand about your pain. Hayley already had a great understanding of pain – it was her job to know! She was able to use her understanding to speed up her recovery. Your questions might be answered elsewhere on the site, but if not, here are some questions to take to your health professional. Add them to your own, and don’t leave without answers.

Steve's story


A simple workplace injury with a massive, long-term effect.

In Steve's many years with pain he tried everything. When multiple surgeries were unable to resolve his pain, Steve became reliant on opioids and was off work with no real road forward. This story explores Steve's recovery and gives powerful insight into the lived experience resolving pain.

  • It is always possible to recover!

  • Disc bulges are common and normal, even in people without back pain

  • Opioid medication is not a long term solution

  • Exercise is an important treatment for back pain

Dig deeper and learn more.

Pain knowledge

Learning about pain helps guide your recovery, and there is research to suggest it might even reduce your pain! For Steve, learning about pain gave him the confidence to move more than he otherwise would, and it informed new strategies for his pain management. If there are gaps in your pain knowledge scroll through our website. Start with Understanding Your Pain, then try the Useful Resources page to find out more.


Have you been on opioids for more than a month? Steve had been on them for years, and getting off was a powerful step in his recovery. If it’s been more than a month and you don’t have a plan to stop, make an appointment with your prescribing doctor today and make a plan to switch strategies.


Are you exercising on most days of the week? Lifting weights was something that Steve had never considered as a treatment for his back pain, but in the end it not only made him stronger but it helped him re-gain confidence in his back. Find an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist, make a plan and get started.

Ethne's story


Worsening back pain and advice to rest led Ethne into a tricky position.

Her pain was not improving, and as she tried to move carefully and protect her back her pain continued to get worse. This episode tells the story of regaining confidence in your body, and shows the value of knowledge and movement in treating pain. 

  • Pain is not a measure of damage

  • Imaging findings do not predict pain

  • The more reason you have to think that you are damaged, the more likely you are to have pain

  • Rest is not recommended for the majority of back pain

Dig deeper and learn more.

Your thinking

Is there a particular experience that shaped the way you understand your injury? For Ethne, learning that disc bulges are common and normal gave her more confidence, and it allowed her to challenge herself physically. If your understanding is holding you back then explore our website and start learning! Start here.

Moving past rest

What movements have you been avoiding? Before learning about pain, Ethne was avoiding all sorts of movements in a bid to protect her back and give it time to heal. Learning about pain and tissue healing helped her to trust her body again, and paved the way for an exercise program that was a key step in her recovery from pain.


Are you exercising most days? There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that exercise is safe and beneficial for people with back pain. Generally speaking, the best movement is the one that you do! Ethne was already a keen cyclist, so returning to cycling was a natural choice. What movements would best suit you? Work with a health professional to make a personal movement plan, and get started toward recovery.

Gianluca's story


During a family holiday Gianluca started having severe pain in both of his legs.

With no clear injury to explain the pain, they returned home, but the pain didn't go away. When his medical examinations cam back all clear, we started a process of education and movement with the goal of re-training his pain system. In this episode, Gianluca and his father speak about their experience. This story offers practical advice to anyone experiencing ongoing pain. 

  • It is important to take childhood pain seriously

  • If you are unsure, the best place to start is with your GP

  • All pain is real, even if there is no clear tissue mechanism

  • Learning about pain is treatment

  • Parents and carers can help by updating their own knowledge of pain

  • Exercise can help re-train the pain system to be less protective

Dig deeper and learn more.

Medical examination

If your child has pain that is not explained by a recent injury then it is important to rule out any serious problems that might be causing symptoms. The best place to start is with your GP. Gianluca’s scans came back clear, and this gave us the confidence to move forward. If you are concerned about your child’s pain, make an appointment with a doctor today.


The way you understand pain changes the way pain feels, and can really influence your recovery. The Tame the Beast animation gave Gianluca a new perspective on pain, and redirected his attention to active strategies for recovery. Look at the website, then try explaining your pain to a friend or family member.


Are you as active as you were before your pain started? Gianluca’s pain stopped him from doing all sorts of things, and getting back to movement was an important step in his recovery. Make a list of any things that you have stopped doing, and work with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to get back in action!


Want to know more?

To find out more about this series, or if you have questions about pain treatment, please contact Dave Moen at Form Physiotherapy


Be brave and have hope, because it is possible to tame the beast