When fibromyalgia patients find themselves laid up in bed with chronic pain, the last thing they want to do is exercise. However, there is a lot of research to support that the right kind of exercise can actually reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and can help control the other symptoms as well.
This doesn’t mean you have to learn how to run a marathon. Here are some simple tips to help you begin to exercise so that you can eventually find relief of your symptoms.
- Start exercising in bed if that’s all you can do. Begin by doing stretching exercises in bed. This will loosen up the muscles and help train your body to move better. Do this for about a half hour at a time, giving your body a chance to rest before trying again.
- Recognize that it will be helpful. Exercise is an extremely effective way to reduce the pain of fibromyalgia. It also improves your sleep and lessens the fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Even though exercise seems to be the last thing you should be doing, you really need to believe that it can be helpful in controlling your symptoms.
- Begin the process slowly. When it comes to exercise, even if you didn’t have fibromyalgia, the key is to begin slowly and work your way up to increasing levels of exercise. Try walking for five minutes every day and increase you’re walking time by a minute or two every week until you find yourself able to exercise for up to 20-30 minutes per day. This may take a couple of months but gradually, you will find the exercise to be even easier. If the idea of “exercise” seems too hard, do things that increase the activity of the body such as getting around more on your feet, swimming, or using the stairs instead of the elevator. You don’t have to begin a formal exercise program in order to be more active.
- Pay attention to your body. You need to listen to your body and tailor your exercise so that you don’t overdo it. Some people try to do too much and end up becoming injured or giving up too soon. Even if you were accustomed to being athletic before the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, things have changed and you have to recognize that things you could do before may currently be out of your reach. Practice with different levels of exercise until you find something that feels good to your body but does not injure you or worsen your pain.
- Make an attempt every day. Try not to skip any days when you have started exercising. If one exercise is boring to do every day, try to switch things up. Go swimming one day, take a walk the next, and use exercise equipment on another day. Warm pool exercises are very good for those with fibromyalgia and are less stressful on your joints. As swimming becomes easier, take your exercises to the ground and practice walking or using some kind of exercise equipment. Eventually, you will have a repertoire of things you can do that will make exercise fun and will allow you to do it on a daily basis. Try some different forms of exercise, such as yoga, cycling, and strength training so that you never run out of things to do. Don’t forget that exercise can be more fun if you have a buddy come along. Find a friend or family member to make your exercise routine more social and more fun.
- Make modifications to your workout. As a person with fibromyalgia, you need to take steps to avoid worsening your pain or becoming injured. This might mean planning your exercise to occur when your body feels at its best, which is usually between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm in people with fibromyalgia. Be sure to stretch out before doing anything strenuous so you don’t injury your muscles. Stretching can be done in a shower or in a warm bath, particularly if the muscles are very stiff. Try to exercise carefully, walking on flat surfaces, and avoiding uneven terrain. This will decrease your chances of tripping and falling, and will make your exercise go smoother.
- Be careful with strength training as lifting heavy weights can contribute to injury. Think about doing strength training with elastic bands and don’t do multiple sets of the same exercise until a single set becomes easy and you have rested your muscles well between sets.
- Take as many breaks as you need to in order to get the exercise done without wearing yourself out. The biggest mistake you can make is to push through an exercise program when your body is telling you to rest. This only leads to injury or to feelings that exercise is too much for you so that you give up before you have reaped the benefits of exercise in the management of your fibromyalgia.
- Do easy stretches after your exercise is over with and treat yourself to a bath or hot shower after your exercise is over with. This will ease any tension left in the muscles and will reward you for a job well done.
- Be patient with yourself. You will not feel good about exercise the first few times you make an attempt at it. Try to pace yourself according to your level of pain and your energy level so that each episode of exercising leads to a positive end. Start exercising as slowly as you need to in order to begin to do something headed in the right direction when it comes to exercise. Set reasonable goals and don’t be discouraged if you aren’t running marathons by the end of a couple of weeks of exercise. Exercise in someone who has fibromyalgia has to be done in baby steps so that you can enjoy exercise and find it to be beneficial as part of your newfound program of health and wellness.