Physio Blog
Behind Reach

Pain & Frustration - the birth of Reach

Before there was Reach and a team of awesome Physio’s, designers and technologists, I was facing an age old problem, one that I later found out 100s of millions face everyday.

Let’s step back to August 2016, I’d just closed down a business and I was tired, rundown, and in need of figuring out what to do next.

So I went to my parents in Cornwall for a month, to do all the things I hadn’t done for a long time: chill, cook, exercise, read etc.

Reach Physio founder and CEO, James Read running in the Stockholm Marathon 2015

I’ve always been active and over the years I’ve learnt that it’s such an important part of my life - I’m a better, more fulfilled and social person when I’m regularly doing exercise or sport. I just love the energy it gives you.

Running is one of my loves, so I started doing lots again. But Cornwall is hilly and I jumped in way too quickly - soon I injured my foot. Having seen a physio many times before, I felt confident enough to search online to work out the problem and find some exercises to do. I found loads of articles, videos, and stories from other sufferers, but it was nearly impossible to work out exactly what my problem was and what was right for me to do.

This is where it all started, and what drives everyone at Reach, everyday.

  • We really believe in all the benefits of being active - social, stress relief, increased energy, better health and more.
  • And we admire all those trying their hardest to make themselves and their lives better - and I genuinely believe most people are trying their hardest in life (shout out to Brene Brown’s book on Shame and her ted talks for this learning).
  • There are loads of great tools and people helping you to be active and stay active, but when things go wrong and you’re held back by pain and injury, the available choices are all so frustratingly inconvenient, slow and boring.
  • SO, we are ‘empowering people when their active best is under threat’. And we hope that by helping people become stronger and move forward, we can help make their lives that much better, in-turn increasing their capacity to make the lives of those around them better, and bit by bit we’ll make the world that bit better.

Reach Physio team photo showing employees of the company

“It’s a pain in the arse and so boring”

Fast forward 4 months, some contracting to save money, and I was on the hunt for my next startup.  Now struggling with shoulder, back and neck pain (the snowboard holiday may not have helped!), and because nearly everyone I spoke to had experienced or knew someone who was experiencing a similar problem, I kept coming back to the problems with recovery.

“depressed”, “old”, “frustrated”, “angry”, “held back”. These are the words we hear over and over again from 30, 40 and 50 year olds who should be in their prime. The emotional strain pain has on our lives stood out from the very outset.

Recent research discovered that 32% of Europeans had activity-limiting muscle and joint pain in the last week*. THIS IS CRAZY. No wonder we’re reading stories about the pain epidemic in our national papers.

Montage of UK press headlines about pain epidemic sweeping nation

How and why has it got to this?

This is a big and complex question, and if we tried to figure out all the issues at once we’d probably never get anywhere. So let’s start where we can make a big impact, quickly.

We discovered that recovery has a big experience problem. It is massively inconvenient and incredibly unmotivating.

  • Inconvenient - waiting, appointments, travel, missing work, finding a good physio.
  • Unmotivating - slow, weeks between physio, lost paper plans, escalating costs.

We realised that the people, approach and culture of the business had to be led by the pain sufferer, from an experience perspective (not from a tech, or medical angle).

Meme of unmotivated dog

Building for a positive experience

So this is the team we put together. Joel was the first to join. He really connects with the ‘striving to move forward in your life’ part of why we’re doing this, and he is a design and user experience person by education and experience, making him spot on for this challenge.

Then Mathias our CTO joined. He’s such a different CTO - very passionate about holistic care; about being present and aware of your body; always learning about the body and mind.

Finally, we added Andreas, our Head Physio. He’s spot on for what we’re doing; scientific, research-led, evidence based, frustrated by the misinformation in recovery, and open to really challenging a ‘stuck in its ways’ industry.

This is why I chose to tackle the outdated recovery industry, and Joel, Mathias and Andreas joined the cause. Helping people overcome or even avoid, incredibly frustrating periods in their life gives us a lot of meaning in what we do. We get up every morning to empower people when their active best is under threat.


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