3 Pain Flare Workouts

I hate pain flares.  I've been in one that has lasted almost a week now.  First, it was my back getting out of alignment, then the muscle spasms started, then I can't move, bend, stand, sit, or even ride in a car without the jostling becoming extremely painful.

Then the fact that during the pain flare I stop working out and have to start from scratch again when it is over is such a setback.

I've learned to at least do a few things during my pain flares to keep my strength up.

This is a relatively easy pose that keeps your body strong without increasing pain.

Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II

This is a deep hip-opening pose that strengthens the muscles in the thighs and buttocks. It tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of the feet. This pose also opens the chest and shoulders, improving breathing capacity and increasing circulation throughout the body. It is also known to be therapeutic for flat feet, sciatica, infertility, and osteoporosis.

Do not practice Warrior II if you have a recent hip, knee, or shoulder injury, or if you are experiencing diarrhea or high blood pressure.

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Inhale.

Exhale as you step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet. Check to ensure that your heels are aligned with each other.

Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, line your heel up with your instep.

Pivot your left foot slightly inwards. Your back toes should be at a 45-degree angle. Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your heels.

Raise your arms to the side to shoulder height, so they’re parallel to the floor. Your arms should be aligned directly over your legs. Flip your hands up to the ceiling to lower your shoulders then turn your palms facing down, reach actively from fingertip to fingertip.

On an exhalation, bend your front knee. Align your knee directly over the ankle of your front foot. Your front shin should be 90 to the floor. Sink your hips low, eventually bringing your front thigh parallel to the floor.

Make sure your front shin stays vertical by keeping your leg directly above your foot. Widen your stance as needed to make sure that your knee does not move forward past your ankle. Press down through the outer edge of your back foot, and keep your back leg straight.

Keep your torso perpendicular to the floor, with your head directly over your tailbone. Do not lean towards your front leg. Turn your head to gaze out across your hand.

Broaden across your collarbones and lengthen the space between your shoulder blades. Engage your triceps. Drop your shoulders and lift your chest.

Draw your belly up to your rib cage. Keep your torso open, not turned toward the front leg.

Hold for up to 10 - 30 seconds depending on the pain flare.

Turn to the opposite side, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.

Modifications & Variations

If your hips are very tight, shorten your stance and straighten your front leg to a degree that is comfortable as you work on gaining flexibility.

Place your hands on your hips if you have a shoulder injury or if you are still building upper body strength.
Modified Plank

From a prone position, or table, place the heels on the wall and tuck your toes on the floor. Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Do not let your chest collapse.


Lengthen the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles up towards your ribcage.

Inhale, and lift the body into plank. Focus on extending the entire body through the heel bone pressed into the wall.

Keep your thighs lifted and take care not to let your hips sink too low. If your butt sticks up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your wrists. Draw your inner thighs in and up toward the ceiling.

Broaden across your shoulder blades and across your collarbones.

Press down through the bases of your index finger knuckle — do not let your hands roll open toward the pinkie fingers.

Pull up from the base of your pelvis while lengthening your tailbone toward your heels.

Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for 10 - 30 seconds. To release, slowly lower onto your knees, then press back into Child’s Pose and rest.

Modifications & Variations

If your arms or abdominals are not yet strong enough to support your full body weight, you can lower your knees to the floor (this is called Half Plank Pose). Be sure to keep your head and spine in a straight line.

If your wrists get sore, roll the top edge of your mat a few times. Place the base of the palms of your hands on the rolled portion of the mat, with your fingers gently curling. Press down through the base of your index fingers.


Go for a short walk. If you can't get outside set a kitchen timer for 3 - 5 minutes and walk loops around your house.