Moving more with the ESCAPE-pain Programme

07 January 2019
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Versus Arthritis & ESCAPE-pain

ESCAPE-pain, or Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritic Pain using Exercise, is a six-week programme of exercise and self-management delivered to small groups twice a week by a physiotherapist or fitness instructor. 

Physical activity is important for people with arthritis as it’s proven to reduce pain, increase well-being and improve physical and mental health. 

There are many exercises to suit every individuals needs and abilities, including t'ai chi, gym classes and yoga. It’s important to try and find something that is enjoyable, and any movement is better than none, so it is best to start any exercise programme gently and do what you can. 

We spoke to Sarah from our Health Services Improvement team to find out more about the Escape Pain exercise programme. 

What is the ESCAPE-pain Programme?

ESCAPE-pain, or Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritic Pain using Exercise, is a six-week programme of exercise and self-management delivered to small groups twice a week by a physiotherapist or fitness instructor. 

The course helps people understand their condition, teaches them simple things they can help themselves with, and takes them through a progressive exercise programme so they learn how to cope with pain better. 

Robust evaluation shows that ESCAPE-pain:

  • reduces pain
  • improves physical function
  • improves the psychosocial consequences of pain
  • reduces healthcare and utilisation costs.

The programme continues to grow and spread across the UK. People with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip can either be referred from a healthcare professional or in some cases refer themselves. 

During this time of COVID-19 they've launched Escape-pain Online, this free resource provides exercises to help people living with chronic pain.

Who is it aimed at helping? 

ESCAPE-pain offers two programmes:
  • ESCAPE-pain for knees and hips: designed to benefit people with chronic knee or hip pain, otherwise known as osteoarthritis which is more prevalent in people over the age of 45; and
  • ESCAPE-pain for backs: designed to benefit people with chronic low back pain, which is more common in people over 18.

The best place to find out where your nearest class is via escape-pain.org

There’s strong evidence of the benefits of group work which is why everyone attends at the same time to start and finish the 6-week block together. It’s an opportunity to make friends, learn more about what’s possible with arthritis and make moving a part of your daily life. 

"It has given me the confidence to exercise more than I thought possible at my age and due to the fact that I have osteoarthritis."

Programme member

" know my knees are stronger because of the work on my muscles and I intend to carry on with the exercises and gym work so that my muscles will not atrophy again."

Programme member

"I have benefitted 100% from the class. My right knee is much improved, and I have a training programme to help me with the rest of my life."

Programme member

Even though some days it might feel best to do nothing, sitting still for too long can be bad for you. When you’re not moving your muscles begin to deteriorate. It’s important to keep muscles strong as they protect the joints. Moving more not only helps to manage your existing condition but can prevent others from developing.

The ESCAPE-pain programme is all about getting started on a journey to find physical activities that people will enjoy, it could be anything from walking, gardening, golf or cycling to group activities such as dance, chair-based exercise or water aerobics.  

Getting into a routine which works for people and their lifestyle will make a difference on many levels. From improved sleep, better fitness, increased well-being and reduced stiffness and pain. 

Award winning

The ESCAPE-pain programme won the MSK Care Initiative of the Year award at the HSJ Value Awards 2020. Read more about how the programme as taken action and made a difference to people's lives.

Find out more 

Visit escape-pain.org for more information on the programme. The ESCAPE-pain programme is a partnership between Orthopaedic Research UK, Health Innovation Network and St. George’s, University of London, Kingston University, and the research of Professor Mike Hurley. Other partners include NHS England and Sport England.