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PainFeb 3, 2021

Diarmuid Denneny takes the plunge to back 'creative' festival on living with persistent pain

Sea-swimming enthusiast Diarmuid Denneny is using an unusual channel to support people with chronic pain – and wants other physios to get involved too.

He is one of an eight-member team running Footsteps Festival 2021 – a ‘year-long celebration of living well with pain’ that launched last month with a singing event.

Despite the cold, Diarmuid Denneny's enthusiasm for sea swimming is undiminished


According to its website – https://my.livewellwithpain.co.uk/festival/explore-the-festival – the festival team, made up from a mixture of specialist pain professionals and affected individuals, is taking a ‘creative approach to living well with persistent pain’.

The list of ‘zones’ on offer, which are presented in a style familiar to music festival fans, is as follows

Main Stage

Wellbeing Tent

The People Place

Pain and the Brain

Active Zone

Creative Corner

Street Kitchen

Into the Wild

Two arts companies – Opera North, which is running a series of singing workshops, and Balbir Singh Dance Company – are among those signed up to contribute over the coming months.

I have valued working with people who live with pain to develop our services especially during Covid-19. I also like swimming in the sea [Diarmuid Denneny]

Mr Denneny explained why he got involved in the project in a short biography: ‘I became involved in this project because I think more collaboration between health care professionals and people who live with pain can only be a good thing!

‘My work/life background is as a physiotherapist. I qualified in 1995 and have worked specifically in pain services since about 2005. I have a personal interest in mindfulness and trained to be a teacher in 2014.

‘I am also a qualified non-medical prescriber. I am lead physio in a large pain management centre in London and have worked both with people individually, in group pain management programmes and as a first contact practitioner.’

Chair of the Physiotherapy Pain Association

Mr Denneny, who is the chair of the Physiotherapy Pain Association, recently joined the Live Well with Pain team, which is hosting the festival website. See: https://ppa.csp.org.uk and https://my.livewellwithpain.co.uk

He adds: ‘I have valued working with people who live with pain to develop our services especially during Covid-19. I also like swimming in the sea.’

PhysioUpdate caught up with Mr Denneny and posed some questions as he took a breather from his hectic schedule

Q Do you swim outdoors all year round? A ‘Yes usually.’
Q Do you live near the sea? A ‘Kent coast.’

Q Do you wear a wetsuit and other gear at this time of year? A ‘No – “channel swim” rules.
Q When is the sea at its coldest in the UK? A ‘Usually February and March.’

Q Why do you do it? A ‘I love it! Best natural high you can get. Being in nature. Mindful activity. Mental and physical health benefits.’
Q Do you think swimming in cold water helps with stress and pain? A ‘Yes, although that’s anecdotal and right now there isn’t a large body of evidence (although it’s something I’m keen to explore more!).’


To offer your support to the festival, email: info@footsteps-festival.co.uk

Author: Ian A McMillan
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