Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Exercise and Fibro by Celeste Cooper

Because we are all unique individuals with varying comorbid or co-existing conditions, you will want to experiment with different types of what I like to call “movement therapies.” For instance, a person with lung disease will not have the same abilities as someone who is able to swim and jog without an increase in their
symptoms. A fibromyalgia patient who also has myofascial pain syndrome will want to make sure their myofascial trigger points are being successfully treated before exercising a shortened and weakened muscle. 

Exercise that keeps your muscles from wasting and keeps them from becoming stiff is the one that will help you most. Try not to become so afraid of pain that you stop moving all together, because research tells us a static or sedentary lifestyle is not good for the FM patient, and non movement can contribute to pain not to mention add other health complications.  If you have other physical limitations, try rocking in a rocking chair. If you have difficulty with balance or you have severe joint disease, you may want to try Yoga that incorporates the use of bolsters. T’ai Chi is also a good movement therapy because it requires focus and slow movement. If you choose to swim, do so in a warm water pool to avoid putting your muscles under any undue stress. Aerobic exercise is important too unless you fall into a subgroup of fibromyalgia patients that has heart rate and blood pressure drops, in which case the autonomic nervous system isn’t working quite right and aerobic exercise could be harmful. In other words, let your body be your guide.
"Keep a “Movement Report Card”

As with all things fibro, our bodies don’t respond normally, so soreness may not occur until several days later. A mild increase in muscle tenderness will occur in anyone so don’t let this stop you. However, if you find the tenderness is extraordinary, back off, change your movements, or rest for a few days before beginning again. Check your records to see if there is anything in particular you added that might be causing more problems. This might include a new yoga position or an increase in your time walking. Always be respectful of any other conditions you have in addition to fibromyalgia, and unless your doctor tells you otherwise, drink plenty of water.

Hobbies that require physical movement, such as gardening or chasing butterflies around with a camera are good movement therapies too. Use caution, and control movements so you don’t put undue stress on the same muscle groups, your spine, or your joints. Hobbies that require you to move and get outside not only helps physically, it helps us spiritually too. 

“Musical ideas sprang to my mind like a flight of butterflies, 
and all I had to do was to stretch out my hand to catch them.”
~Charles Gounod

Don’t forget to stretch. You don’t have to go overboard, be gentle with yourself. You might try incorporating a stretch while in the shower and then use your towel as an exercise tool while drying off. Put frequently used items at a level where it will provide a mild stretch to reach them. When up an about in the house, try bending over and touching your toes several times a day. Speaking from experience, come back up slowly so you don’t topple over. When you are not in a flare, try parking further away when you are on an outing. Try walking backwards from time to time, supposedly, it burns more calories and exercises the mind. Unrealized exercise works the same as a movement routine.

Always start low and go slow.

Use as much of your battery as possible without completely draining it.  If you expend all your energy in one day, it can set you back several. Whatever you choose, do it wisely and document your symptoms and tolerance. Always start low and go slow. Your best choice is a type of movement that you like to do.

You can read more about many different types of exercise, therapies, and precautions in 

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All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

Celeste Cooper is a retired RN, educator, fibromyalgia patient, and author of books related to chronic pain and illness. You can read more about Celeste and her work on her Amazon Author Profile, here , or look to the right of this blog for direct links to her work.

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