Dealing with fibromyalgia can feel like you’ve been sleeping on a bed of rocks. Radiating pain that affects the entire body for at least three months is considered a general indicator. Pain location and intensity can vary daily, with some points more tender than others. Sleep disturbances typical of fibromyalgia can increase suffering and fatigue. Everyday functioning can be a challenge and, at times, nonexistent.
However, other conditions can also overlap with guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia, making a clear determination difficult. Currently, a thorough discussion with, and examination by, your healthcare pracitioner is the only method available for diagnosis. Once a positive diagnosis is made, review a treatment plan, including fitness options like those shared here. Although you may seem incapacitated by this debilitating condition, your body often needs movement to survive it.
The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. It is sometimes attributed to a physically traumatic or stressful event, such as an auto accident; an emotionally stressful crisis; or an illness or immune disorder. Other theories suggest a genetic predisposition or faulty sensory processing in the nervous system. Regardless of origin, it hurts.
Your best response? Fight back with these suggested exercises:
A gentle form of this ancient discipline can accomplish much for the fibromyalgia sufferer. Stretching and range-of-motion movements help maintain flexibility in all muscle groups. The deep concentration required helps reach beyond preconceived physical limitations, putting the practitioner back in control. The mental strength gained through yoga is motivating, as are those practicing alongside you during a group class. Through yoga, you can help loosen stiff joints and sore muscles. It’s one of the earliest forms of healing, where those with such aches benefit most.
For more specifics on this tremendous form of exercise, see “Surrender Yourself to Yoga” at http://fitnessandwellnessnews.com/fitness/surrender-yourself-to-yoga/ (Fitness & Wellness News, July 9, 2010).
Appropriately named for those dealing with fibromyalgia, endurance exercises can help endure its painful symptoms. By conditioning, toning, and increasing your coordination, your body can better tolerate the physical effects of this illness. Cardiovascular workouts increase your endurance. And who doesn’t benefit from a stronger heart muscle!
Obviously, you should start slowly. Save Turbo Kick for a period that’s flare-up free. Consider cycling, walking, or swimming. Aquatic Aerobics classes allow painful muscles and joints a soothing yet powerful workout.
The Center’s extensive aquatic offerings include therapeutic programs. Surrounded by water, the body can more easily move through a full range of motions. With the entire skeleton supported as gravity’s force is reduced, you can accomplish strengthening, cardio fitness, and weight loss. Try stretching in the water, using a kickboard to aid movement, or swimming easy strokes. On difficult days, simply floating in the pool can offer soothing buoyancy.
Help support your joints and bones with strong muscles and tendons. Through an effective exercise program, you can increase strength, which may improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Speak with a personal trainer to customize a safe program that meets your needs on any given day. S/he can help monitor your resistance training to avoid injury.
Similar to yoga with its skillful use of breathing techniques, Pilates works the body using the deep core muscles. Postural muscles are a critical focus in this workout. They help support the spine for overall better movement and balance, and to prevent injury. This discipline was created by Joseph Pilates to improve his own failing health. The mind-body connection is emphasized throughout in an effort to overcome obstacles, such as fibromyalgia.
The gentle flow of calming movements offered through this workout combines with the simultaneous benefits of stretching. Tai Chi is proven to increase balance and flexibility, essential in accomplishing everyday tasks and living.
How Exercise Helps
As with many debilitating conditions, rest and avoidance of physical activity was the traditionally recommended treatment. The “course of action” was to take none. Exercise was mistakenly feared to exacerbate symptoms or accelerate deterioration.
However, exercise has since been proven beneficial. It aids joints and bones by strengthening the muscles that support them, it energizes, and it inspires a positive spirit. Exercise restores the brain’s chemical balance, boosting serotonin and endorphin levels. A surge of these flowing through the body combats the stress, anxiety, and depression common to fibromyalgia—and motivates one to take action. A consistently followed exercise program is often a necessity for those suffering from this painful condition.
Constructing your healthiest physical and mental self through fitness can help one soar beyond the fate life has dealt. Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, symptoms can be successfully managed through regular physical activity … and hope. Be tender to yourself.
“Fibromyalgia and Exercise” at www.webmd.com.
“Fibromyalgia Exercises—What You Can Do” at www.fibromyalgiaexercise.net.
“Understanding Fibromyalgia” at www.webmd.com.
Introduction photo: www.flickr.com/photos/turn_your_swag_on/3932172495/
Water workout: www.flickr.com/photos/24975064@N05/4840948510/
Stripped socks: www.flickr.com/photos/jvtfotos/3397575091/