The most effective treatment for fibromyalgia is exercise. Which seems totally weird, because most people with fibromyalgia hurt worse and are more fatigued after exercise, and they may feel that way for days. The key is the right amount of the right kinds of exercise.
If you are new to exercising within the constraints of fibromyalgia, it may be helpful to enlist the help of a trainer, physical therapist or exercise physiologist to design a program specifically for you. Every person with fibromyalgia has a different exercise capacity, so you need an individualized program.
Another important concept related to exercise is your “baseline.” Each person has a different baseline. It is the level of exercise that you can maintain over time. It does not mean that you are pain-free, but that the pain doesn’t interfere with your lifestyle. You also need to remember that you’ll always have good days and bad days. You don’t stop or reduce your exercise because of a bad day. (Although you may reduce it for a while if you have a bad flare-up that lasts days or weeks.)
Exercise training for someone with fibromyalgia begins with stretching. Stretching reduces the stiffness and keeps ligaments and tendons from shortening over time. Stretching should be gentle and it should feel good. It is usually a good idea to warm your muscles with mild aerobic activity, such as walking, for a few minutes before stretching.
Daily low-impact, gentle aerobic exercise is the next step. Aerobic exercise has tons of health benefits. It specifically helps reduce fibromyalgia symptoms because it improves flexibility, causes your body to release endorphins and other happy chemicals and reduces stress. Walking and bicycling are excellent low-impact exercises. It is important to start at a level suitable to where you are and increase your level of exercise slowly. If you get fatigued after five minutes of walking, start there and increase your time by a minute or two every week or two.
Some activities are especially good for fibromyalgia. Water aerobics and swimming are wonderful. The buoyancy of the water supports your sore muscles and allows you to exercise with less pain. Swimming has a double benefit of gentle stretching along with aerobic exercise.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong and Yoga emphasize slow, gentle movements that are ideal for people with fibromyalgia. All three exercises include breathing and focusing, which decrease stress. You also learn to be aware of your body and learn to recognize signs of stress.
Pilates is another exercise system where you work with your body, stretching and toning it. Pilates is a non-weight bearing exercise, like chair aerobics. It is a gentle way to tone your body, and gentle is the word for exercising with fibromyalgia.
People with fibromyalgia can add some strength training slowly as they build up exercise tolerance. Resistance bands provide plenty of strength training for a while. Strength training must be undertaken carefully and gently, and it might be wise to get help from an exercise professional before adding it. There are many benefits to strength training, and it could be a very beneficial addition to your exercise, especially when you are feeling well.
Whether we are talking about exercise or sleep, pacing and routine are important if you have fibromyalgia. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day helps with sleep. Exercising at the same time every day helps with exercise. Your body begins to respond to routine.
Exercise must be paced, too. That means starting at a low level, increasing gradually, and incorporating rest into your routine. You exercise, then rest, then exercise some more. Over time, you can shorten the rest periods and/or lengthen the exercise periods. Rhythm and pacing make a big difference in how much exercise you can tolerate.
It is recommended that you consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
To find out more on why exercise can be so beneficial please visit EliminateFibromyalgia.com .