Posted on
October 11, 2019

Here at Reach HQ, we’re so motivated by the reviews, messages and stories of recovery that we receive from our users. Even just a simple Facebook comment about increased mobility, or decreased pain levels, after consistent weekend workouts is inspiring to us! Please know that every message we get, feeds back into our future ideas for the app, focusing us on ways to improve and evolve, to bring an even better service and recovery experience to back and neck pain sufferers everywhere!

It’s especially heartwarming when one of our user’s offers to share their journey with us. In this blog, we’re very lucky to have Eric Tomlinson (who you might better know as children’s fiction writer E.H.Howard), share his experience of using the Reach Physio app to recover from long-term back pain, compared to previous in-person physiotherapy sessions. Having published three fiction books including the Amara series, and the children’s fantasy book Pog and the King’s Armour, while also suffering from around 40 years of back pain, Eric is well qualified to answer our questions - and we hope you’ll enjoy his take on life with Reach.


Hi Eric, thanks for talking with me - how is your back nowadays?

Thanks for asking, at this moment, it’s great. In normal use, I don’t have a problem. The last time I suffered, I had been working late into the night on a sofa with my leg tucked under me. I didn’t realise it had gone to sleep until I went to stand and found myself flat on the floor with a dog licking my face. That jarring gave me a week or so of awkward movement, but I think it’s safe to assume that any issues I encounter these days are usually self-inflicted.  


What was the number one activity that your back pain stopped you from participating in? 

My back problems started in late teens, early twenties. At that time, I played tennis, badminton, golf and used to kick a football around with no skill, but with enthusiasm.  But it’s also a time of life change, getting married, starting work.  Rather than stopping a single activity, I think protecting my back directed me into a more sedentary way of life. Over the years I am sure this compounded the problem.


What was your mindset towards your back pain before you found Reach and did it change after you started the programme?

I know that regular ‘limbering up’ works for me. I try to start each day with a routine of stretches. I think living to avoid back pain is just always in my mind.  The app helps me keep on track with the exercises I need to do.


Why did you choose Reach over a traditional Physio?

I don’t have a regular home-based way of life and I travel as much as I can. I have a great local Physio, but with the best Will in the world (He is called Will!) he cannot always be available at the times I need him and he wouldn’t drop everything to come to Wales or Greece to help me. 


How did the Reach App meet your needs?

I really need that daily guidance to complete a routine. Otherwise my busy head is filled with tasks I need to complete. I find that important elements of my routine get dropped. Initially, I skip them because of time, and then I just forget to re-implement them. I now do the routine with my phone there, as a little motivator to guide me and keep me diligent. 


Which feature was most valuable to you?

I like the video to show me the example exercise and the speed I should aim for. Again, my head is always screaming ‘I don’t have time for this.’ So, if I could do back stretches in ten seconds, rather than thirty, I would. The routine from Reach evolves, which means rather than being in a rut, the changes help to keep me focused. There isn’t a single feature, the Reach app fulfils so much of what I need to keep my back and general mobility healthy.


How did the level of communication you received from Reach's physios compare to your experience of traditional physio?

I have a good local physio, who does know me well. However, my rapport with him has taken time to establish and I have had many poor experiences. After I had a shoulder accident the NHS seemed to reassign physios every few weeks and so we always had a learning curve to go through. Even with a private practice they rarely assign the same physio between episodes. I find the Apps chat facility brilliant. One thing I really appreciate is because this is a long-term relationship/ commitment, not only are the team at Reach addressing my immediate problem, but then gently guiding me into strengthening and preventative activity. I couldn’t do this on my own. I would get it wrong and end up at best, not getting an effect, at worst damaging myself. 


How did your recovery plan fit-in with your daily life? 

For many years, I have allocated time to limber up to start the day. The app slipped right into this and has really helped me to maintain a disciplined approach. Regardless of how busy I think my day is, I need to allocate that ten to fifteen-minute slot to self-care each day. 


What is it that keeps you so busy?

That’s a good question. I spend virtually my entire life plugged into a computer. I suspect this is partly why I feel like my back is fragile. I work as a self-employed computer consultant. Which means I am working my hardest when I am motionless in front of a computer. I recently embarked on an Open University degree, which means I spend a lot of my time motionless in front of a computer … And for relaxation, I sit in front of a computer writing fiction. 

Don’t you ever venture outside?

Yes, I get out walking as often as I can, but as our little dog is now fifteen, I tend to carry her in a rucksack more than she walks. Another reason why keeping my back healthy really helps me enjoy life.


Great to hear that you’ve made a habit out of an activity you love, Eric - keeping these up goes a long way to preventing pain in the future. Well done and thanks for you time!


We hope you enjoyed Eric’s insight into his experience with the Reach Physio app. If you are a Reach user and would also like to share your story of recovery, contact us to be featured on our blog. 


If you’re suffering from back pain and would like to try Reach out for yourself, sign-up today.