If you have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and are not sure how to move forward with it then one of the most effective treatments is exercise, says Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology and medicine at the University of Michigan. “It benefits all of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain, fatigue, and sleep problems.”
Fibromyalgia Exercise Step 1: Know That It Can Help
Exercise can help maintain bone mass, improve balance, reduce stress, and increase strength. Getting regular exercise can also help control your weight, which is important to reducing the pain of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Exercise Step 2: Start Slowly
“Moving your body may be the last thing you feel like doing, but you have to believe that it really does help,” Lynne Matallana who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia says. “It’s hard at first, but it does get easier.”
Whether you’re used to running marathons or you’ve never exercised, the key is to start with something small and gradually increase your activity level.
Fibromyalgia Exercise Step 3: Listen to Your Body
If you were very active before fibromyalgia, you may need to learn a different approach to exercise now. Many people try to do too much too soon and then feel frustrated when their symptoms flare up.
Fibromyalgia Exercise Step 4: Do Something Every Day
Even if you have low motivation to move it is important to do something every day if you vary activities you are less likely to get bored. Some good options include aquatic therapy, Chi Gung or Tai Chi, walking, gentle yoga, or dancing.
Fibromyalgia Exercise Step 5: Modify Your Workout
Whether you’re walking or participating in an exercise class, these exercise tips can help prevent injury or pain:
- Exercise at the time of day that you feel best. For many people with fibromyalgia, this is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. But your best time may be different.
- Stretch. This can help warm up muscles and minimize pain after exercise. You can stretch while lying down, standing, or sitting in a chair. Some people may find it helpful to stretch in a warm bath or shower.
- Take small steps. When walking, try not to swing your arms too much or take big steps. Walk on flat, even surfaces to reduce your risk of falling.
- Ease into strength training. For strengthening exercises, consider using elastic bands instead of weights and start with a single set of repetitions.
- Pace yourself. When doing stretching or strengthening exercises, alternate sides often and take a short rest between repetitions.
- Take breaks. Again, listen to your body. “When I was first starting, I’d rest after just a few minutes of exercise,” Matallana says. “Don’t be afraid to go as slowly as you need to.”
- Pamper yourself afterward. When you’re finished exercising, take a hot shower or bath.
Fibromyalgia Exercise Step 6: Be Patient
Although exercise can improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, the effects are not always immediate. Exercise is really the best long-term treatment for the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia.
“You definitely need to be patient and work slowly,” Matallana says. “It may seem like it’s taking forever to reach your goals. But as you gradually increase your movement, you will feel better and notice a decrease in your symptoms. In my experience, exercise is the No. 1 thing to start you on your journey to wellness.”
If you are not sure where to start you can book in with our Kinesiologist Anna who can help you make a graduated exercise plan and help you reach your goals.