If you are like many people with fibromyalgia, just getting out of bed can cause pain and fatigue – and exercise can be unthinkable.
You probably already know that gentle exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce fibromyalgia pain and improve your quality of life. If you are like many people with the condition, though, you might worry that exercise will worsen your symptoms. The good news is that, if you start slowly and do the right types of physical activities, you can begin exercising.
Have Fibromyalgia? Exercise with Less Pain by Following These Steps
Make a plan
When it comes to pain in the fibromyalgia patient, the age-old advice of “listen to your body” simply does not apply – fibromyalgia causes pain whether or not your body has suffered an injury. Make a plan of what you can realistically accomplish. It may help to get the advice of a professional for this part.
Consult with a physical therapist
Before starting any exercise program, consult with a physical therapist who is familiar with fibromyalgia. Your physical therapist can supervise your exercise program, monitor your condition and note any problems, keep track of your progress, and adjust your program as necessary to improve symptoms.
Enlist the help of a supportive friend
Ask a friend to help you exercise, especially in the beginning. Having a friend to hold onto can prevent falls, as research shows that people with fibromyalgia fall more often than do people without the condition. Your friend can also help you stay motivated.
Set a moderate goal
Mayo Clinic says that a good goal for people with fibromyalgia is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three times a week.
Just getting out of bed is a big gain for some people with fibromyalgia. If necessary, start by simply getting out of bed and standing at the bedside for a moment. Work towards taking a few steps.
Do a little more
Move around a little more today than you did yesterday. Exercising as little as 5 minutes a day can reduce fibromyalgia pain. Remember – when it comes to exercise, doing anything is better than doing nothing. Make sure to keep a record of the exercises you do, the time of day and the length of time that you do them. For best results, write down your symptoms too.
Take a warm bath or shower prior to exercise
The warm water soothes aches and pains. Try tossing some Epsom salts in your tub for extra benefit.
Engage in the right forms of exercise
Walking is one of the best exercise programs for fibromyalgia because it does not require any special equipment, and you can modify the intensity and duration of your workout to suit your needs. Walking and other aerobic exercises strengthen your heart and improve circulation. Research shows that tai chi provides equal or better results than aerobic activity when it comes to relieving fibromyalgia symptoms.
Aquatic physical therapy can help reduce pain while improving your strength and stamina. The buoyancy of water helps support your body weight so that you can move around easier. The water also provides resistance, which helps strengthen your muscles. The American Physical Therapy Association suggests several strength training aquatic exercises, such as water walking or jogging, forward and side lunges, one leg balances, side stepping, and standing knee lifts.
Determine the right amount of exercise per session
You should feel “good tired” immediately after the exercise, and feel better the next day. If your pain is worse the next day, ease up. Once you find the right amount of exercise for you, stay at that level for a few days to increase your energy production. Ramp up your exercise intensity and duration only after you experience a boost in energy.
While you probably want to get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible, don’t overdo it on the exercise. Overexertion can lead to a symptom of fibromyalgia known as post-exertional malaise, which is intense exhaustion and upswing in other fibromyalgia in the 24-hour period following intense exercise.
Engaging in gentle exercise can improve your health and reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms. For more information, consult with a physical therapist or other healthcare professional who is familiar with fibromyalgia.