Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic condition in which the affected individual experiences severe stiffness and pain in the musculoskeletal structure. This chronic pain can be almost debilitating, making mundane everyday tasks impossible to perform. To make matters worse, fibromyalgia is incurable and treatment is simply meant to provide relief from the symptoms. Nevertheless, most patients can maintain a normal lifestyle as medication and therapy can keep symptoms in check. Physical activity, exercise and stress reduction technique can make a huge difference to quality of life with most studies showing marked improvement with regular aerobic exercise.
As is the rule with any exercise routine or fitness regimen, you first need to warm up and prepare your body for the activity. The idea of any physical activity may appear daunting when you suffer from such chronic pain but the pain will subside and you will soon start to feel more fit and symptom free. Start with the extremities moving your toes and your feet in slow gentle circular motions. Do not push your body too far and if it hurts always listen to your body and stop but don't give up.
Stretching exercises are another vital element in any exercise plan, especially if you suffer from fibromyalgia. Practicing simple stretching exercises helps to limber up the muscles and it also improves joint flexibility. Start slow, holding each stretch for just 5 to 10 seconds and gradually work it up to at least 30 seconds. Over the course of time, you will also notice that your joints have a greater range of motion and you have improved overall flexibility.
Low-Impact Aerobic Activities
You can start with low impact aerobic activities like walking, cycling and swimming. You don't even need to visit a gym to exercise; you can simply walk through the park or swim at your country club. Just make it a point to engage in such physical activity for at least 10-minutes a day.
Household chores may not classify as exercise if you're looking to lose weight but if you're simply trying to stay active and fit, they can help considerably. Don't cut back on household chores because of your condition, instead try to engage in those activities that suit you and can help. Gardening, mopping the floor, mowing the lawn and taking your kids out or playing with them are just some activities that are less likely to be strenuous but will all the same keep you active.
Turn up the Heat
Swimming and water sports activities serve as a form of mild aerobic activity and you can improve the results of this exercise by swimming in a heated pool. A number of studies have shown that exercising in a pool with heated water can provide significant relief from fibromyalgia symptoms. This is possibly one of the best exercises for fibromyalgia and you will notice results within a few weeks.
Chronic pain doesn't just affect mobility of the joints and impose restrictions on your activity, it also affects your balance and this further limits activities. With poor balance comes a high risk of falls, which can be even more daunting if you already suffer from chronic pain. Balance training activities can significantly help to counter these problems and it also brings about functional improvements enabling you to participate in other activities.
Your muscles cannot be strengthened if they are not exercised and subjected to some amount of strain. Once you have gotten into the routine of practicing warm-up and stretching exercises try to work on some strength building exercises. As always, the rule is to start out slow with the lightest weights being about 2 to 3 pounds. Strength building exercises don't just help build muscles they also help to relieve stress. As your muscle strength, improves you can even progress to heavier weights.
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for patients suffering from any kind of debilitating condition, whether a physical injury or chronic pain. This may seem far-fetched if you are only familiar with the practice from your interaction with or perception of yoga practitioners as super flexible and fit. The fact is that no one starts out with those levels of flexibility and fitness, but almost anyone can achieve them. Yoga is easily adaptable to varying degrees of fitness, with gentler forms like hatha yoga being perfect for people suffering from chronic pain.
Pilates include low impact activities that help build core strength, while also improving stability, balance and circulation. Speak to your health care provider for recommendations on a physiotherapist who conducts pilates classes or workshops in your area.
Relaxation exercises and meditative practices help to reduce stress levels, improve your general sense of well-being and also help reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This is another reason why yoga is a great addition to any fibromyalgia exercise plan. Yoga activity typically includes breathing exercises and meditative practices in combination with physical poses. This improves not just your focus and concentration, but it also gives you greater control over your emotions and helps you consciously fight off stress and depression. In the context of fibromyalgia, it prepares you to better deal with pain.
This traditional Chinese martial arts discipline offers a wide range of health benefits and its gentle flowing movements greatly improve flexibility and balance. The practice also reduces stress levels and it even builds muscle strength. This form of martial arts is practiced both as a form of self-defence and as fitness exercise and there are now various schools of Tai Chi that follow different variations in training style. Try to find a trainer and program that suits your needs.
Whole Body Vibration
Whole body vibration is a relatively new type of exercise in which exercises like squats and other techniques are practiced on a vibration platform. Some studies have already found that this practice improves balance, especially when combined with more traditional exercise programs like yoga or pilates. Results of tests so far have been so encouraging that researchers have recommended the development of physical therapy programs that incorporate the use of whole body vibration.
Nordic walking is a walking technique designed specifically for fitness purposes and it involves walking with specially designed walking poles similar to those used when skiing. The practice in fact started out as ski-training technique during the off season months. A study found that moderate to high-intensity outdoor Nordic walking brought about improvements in physical health and there was noticeable improvement in functional capacity. Fibromyalgia patients who participated in the study engaged in Nordic walking bi-weekly in 45-minute sessions. The results were measured a little after three months.
Exercise Pain Relief
The exuberance of those renewed energy levels and improved fitness after you begin exercising can be quite intoxicating to anyone and most of us succumb to the temptation. We over indulge and push our bodies a bit too hard often resulting in muscle fatigue, exhaustion and pain; when you suffer from fibromyalgia, this pain can be a lot more severe and a lot more intimidating. Don't panic and throw in the towel though, because this is sometimes unavoidable. Instead, listen to your body and don't push yourself too far. If you experience pain and swelling, use cold compresses or ice packs to get some quick relief.
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