Episode2 Segment 5 - What is an upgrade plan? What is a flare-up plan?

Fast Fact 1

Take regular
small steps to
increase your
physical activity

Fast Fact 2

Reset your
SMART goals

Fast Fact 3

Flare ups are
normal and can
be managed

Other video links: Pacing Your Superpower Against Chronic Pain (Episodes 1-5)

Have an upgrade plan

Keeping your SMART goal in mind, make a plan with regular small upgrades. Each week gradually take steps to increase what you can achieve with your physical activity. Work within pain tolerances and gently nudge the boundaries. Be aware that there will be times when you are busy or unwell. Reset your SMART goals so that you can still achieve something that week – even if it means maintaining levels from the week before.

With the upgrade plan:

  1. Revisit the physical activity goal. Is the goal still the same?
  2. Reset the SMART goal each week.
  3. Measure weekly activity levels
  4. Celebrate and reward achievements

Remember that upgrades:

  1. Are very individual. There is no right or wrong amount of progress.
  2. Need to be recorded. While upgrades can seem very small, improvements in physical activity can be quite large over time. Recording the upgrades can show you how far you have come, and also be used as motivation.

Have a flare up plan

A flare up is when your pain becomes worse. Lots of things can lead to a flare up.

Sometimes it is a matter of doing too much, doing too little, doing something new, being sick or run down, or being stressed. Other times a flare up is more about thoughts, feelings and emotions (Episode 3 – Pain and Feelings).

While a flare up can be frightening, uncomfortable, or frustrating, the good news is that the worst of it is usually gone in a day or two. Sometimes it will take a bit  longer to taper, but try to think of it as an episode that will resolve.

A flare up is normal, not an emergency and no harm will be done. Flare ups can happen to most people with pain, even if you are sticking to a plan.

The most important thing
is to have a PLAN
to manage a flare up

Have a flare up plan

A general flare up plan has 3 main parts.

1.Recognising and listing the activities that flare up your pain

2.Knowing and re-setting your activity schedule and sticking to it. Include rest and passive activity in your plan. The intensity and the time spent doing activities should be part of your plan

3. Understanding that when pain does flare up, you can still be active, however you should reduce your activity level or time spent doing an activity.

Flare ups can happen to everyone, but you can still be active and do fun activities.


John is having school tests all next week. He is working hard, but his pain is increasing. John recognises that the stress of assessments and prolonged periods of sitting at his desk is aggravating his pain.

He activates his flare up plan

  1. Recognition
    He recognises that his pain is made worse by stress and prolonged sitting
  2. Setting limits and pacing
    He works for no longer than an hour at a time at his desk and then does an activity in the garden
  3. Rests
    John rests on his bed after 3 hours for 15 mins
  4. Physical
    John continues his physical activity plan of walking to and from school, but he asks his mother to drop him at the corner so the distance is reduced
  5. Medication
    He takes his medication as pre-planned with his doctor. He may increase his morning dose with a plan to taper this back at the end of the assessment period