Thursday, September 1, 2011

Exercise with FM and ME/CFS, claiming your domain.

Exercising when you have fibromyalgia is the epitome of right kind, amount, and time. So, what is too much, and what is enough? Stretching and aerobic exercise are a must, but going too fast or trying to exercise a muscle riddled with myofascial trigger points (see ) will only set you back, give you feelings of defeat and most likely cause you to quit.
Start low and go slow.

Exercise when you have chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can cause more harm than good. Older studies have suggested a step program, however, if in a flare or if you are confined to bed, we now know it is contraindicated, and puts the already stressed out immune system in haywire mode. Movement should be based on tolerance. Know your body and its experiences from previous flares, move when you can to prevent atrophy of your muscles. There are many exercises that can be done in bed or with the assistance of a care giver.

Finding the right fitness routine for you is important; imagine the oil lubricating stiff muscles allowing them to flow freely as you move, instead of jerking and resisting one another like a sputtering car nearly on empty. In FM and ME/CFS, we do not seem to fit in our space, (lack of proprioception) walk into things, etc. so use care. Some days aren’t as good as others, identify perpetuating factors, such as trying to work in a routine on a physically or emotionally challenging day. Blame driven exercise is NOT productive. Heed the warning signs.

Certain times of the day have been identified; generally, the best time is late morning, early afternoon. Do your movement during your peak hours and not before going to bed. “If you drain your car battery completely, you cannot get enough energy to recharge it. The body, mind, and spirit work much the same way.” (from Integrative Therapies…..)

Remember, you are not in a marathon, doing more on Monday to make up for a Sunday is disaster. If exercise is a nasty word for you exchange the word with movement. T’ai Chi, stretching, walking, or bouncing on a yoga ball are all good ways to increase movement. It is important to enjoy the type of movement you select so you will stick to it.

"My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk until I faint."--Erma Bombeck
This blog is based on the question, What if my fibromyalgia causes too much pain to exercise? my original answer as fibromyalgia expert at ShareCare. View other answered questions on my profile at

All blogs, posts and answers are based on the work in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Celeste Cooper, RN, and Jeff Miller, PhD. 2010, Vermont: Healing Arts press, and is not meant to replace medical advice.


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