As a fellow fibromyalgia sufferer, I know all too well that some days it is impossible to do any form of exercise but if you can manage just one on your good days it will help keep you fit.
Many people with fibromyalgia worry exercise will make their pain worse. That anxiety is acknowledged and it isn’t uncommon that people with fibromyalgia experience more post-workout pain and tiredness when they first begin exercising.
Exercise can induce fatigue so it’s a bit of a catch-22, that one of the most effective treatments can aggravate the symptoms of the condition, at least initially.
The trouble is writes The Guardian “the combination of pain, fatigue, and inactivity often leads to weak and deconditioned muscles, making ordinary daily activities challenging. But research has shown that exercise can alleviate symptoms. “It’s one of the most proven treatments for fibromyalgia.”
So, which exercises are the best ones to try? Before starting any exercise routine, get advice from your doctor or physiotherapist. They can suggest safe exercises tailored to your condition and ability.
1. Hydrotherapy – Fibromyalgia Symptoms says that Hydrotherapy is actually one of the oldest types of health treatments in existence today. It still occupies a major place in medicinal treatment throughout China, Japan, and Europe. Believed to have healing properties, water has long been used to treat various illnesses, ranging from gout to depression. The use of thermal spas and baths was introduced by the Romans in the fourth century BC and since then has risen in popularity. Various forms of hydrotherapy are now used in countries all over the world. Hydrotherapy appears to be particularly effective for those suffering from fibromyalgia. In particular, hydrotherapy techniques help to:
- reduce muscle pain
- improve sleep disorders
- increase mobility
- reduce stiffness
A variety of studies involving fibromyalgia patients and hydrotherapy have been performed. In one study, fibromyalgia patients were given therapeutic whirlpool baths twice a week for six weeks. Upon conclusion of the study, the patients involved had better muscle and joint function, reduced pain symptoms, and improved sleep quality. The only side effects areas with any water-based activity, caution should be exercised to remain safe from drowning.
Almost all hydrotherapy is carried out in pools more shallow than the height of the person using it. Patients should drink sufficient amounts of water to avoid becoming dehydrated. The buoyancy of the water can make some activity seem easier, while it is actually working muscles very hard. Patients should get used to how their body feels after a session in order to gauge appropriate levels of activity (i.e. not “overdoing” it). The warmth of the water may make a person feel dizzy. If the hydrotherapy is taking place in a chlorinated pool, the patient should shower immediately after to avoid irritation to their skin.
In the 1920s, physical trainer Joseph Pilates introduced Pilates into America as a way to help injured athletes and dancers safely return to exercise and maintain their fitness. Since then, Pilates has been adapted to suit people in the general community.
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. As a child, he suffered from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. By all accounts, he was quite sickly. Yet he was obsessed with growing into a fit young man. Some accounts suggest he was obsessed with ancient Greek ideals of the physique.
Pilates can be an aerobic and non-aerobic form of exercise. It requires concentration and focus because you move your body through precise ranges of motion. Pilates lengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in your body in a balanced fashion. It requires concentration in finding a centre point to control your body through movement. Each exercise has a prescribed placement, rhythm and breathing pattern.
In Pilates, your muscles are never worked to exhaustion, so there is no sweating or straining, just intense concentration. The workout consists of a variety of exercise sequences that are performed in low repetitions, usually five to ten times, over a session of 45 to 90 minutes. Mat work and specialised equipment for resistance are used.
The Pilates method is taught to suit each person and exercises are regularly re-evaluated to ensure they are appropriate for that person. Due to the individual attention, this method can suit everybody from elite athletes to people with limited mobility, pregnant women and people with low fitness levels.
Always consult your doctor before embarking on any new fitness program, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or have not exercised in a long time.
3. Walking –
According to the NHS walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.
Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.
Very Well has some great ideas to inspire you to get some walking done on a regular basis.
- Why not check out your environment on foot. Notice what is going on around you and you’ll find you never really walk the same way twice. There are always new things to see.
- Find pleasant places to walk. Look for walking paths, greenways, and pedestrian streets to enjoy.
- Bring along your family and friends. Walking together is a great way to connect with others, and a great way to catch up with all the news.
- Walk instead of drive for a few trips each week. Walk part of your commute to work or school. Leave the car behind or get off a stop early on public transit. Walk to the store for small items. You’ll save money and have a purpose for getting in your daily steps.
- Try a charity walk to raise money for a cause. Put your steps to good use.
- Take a short walk break even if you’re busy. If it’s hard to work walking into your day, try a 15-minute walk on a work break, or walk during your lunch break.
You do not have to walk for hours. A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.`
Source: NHS, Very Well, Science Direct, Fybromyalgia, Joseph Pilates