Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Exercises that Help Fibromyalgia

Gentle exercises like Tai Chi
seem to lesson pain.
Like many of us, I have a few friends who suffer from Fibromyalgia.  In the people I have observed who are suffering from this disease, their pain seems to have gotten worse as they aged.  They are exhausted from dealing with the chronic pain, and all they really want to do is stay home and move as little as possible.

A little research has shown me, however, that sitting still is the worse thing they could be doing.  Although they shouldn't take up an aggressive exercise program, a little gentle movement on a regular basis may be exactly what they need in order to relieve their pain.  One of my friends has chosen to avoid most exercise; the other one has signed up for a yoga class, and believes that it is helping. 

According to the website RealAge.com, there are some exercises that you might find helpful if you are living with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia.

Exercises that Help Fibromyalgia Pain

Start with water exercises, especially in a warm pool.  You might try swimming laps, or taking a water aerobics class.  Being in the water makes this a low-impact exercise, and it has been shown to reduce stiffness, pain, fatigue and even the depression that is common in people with Fibromyalgia.

If you don't like water, try low impact aerobics, including biking, walking, or a gentle aerobics class.  Do not get too aggressive if you decide to take aerobics.  Take your time and keep the distances short if you are biking or walking.  In fact, you may want to start out on a stationery bicycle or a treadmill, so you can stop whenever you need to.  Keep moving, but don't push yourself too hard.

Strength training may help your muscles.    In fact, according to RealAge, strength training with lightweight hand weights or gym equipment has been shown to reduce the number of tender points on your body ... a common indicator of Fibromyalgia.

Stretching exercises, such as those done in physical therapy and yoga, seem to improve your flexibility, and reduce your stiffness.  Be gentle, and don't push yourself too hard.  However, doing some gentle stretching exercises daily may be a good way to get started on an exercise program for your Fibromyalgia.

Tai Chi and Chi-Gong are both martial arts that will improve your posture, breathing, and balance, and may help you cope better with chronic pain.  The over-55 community where we live offers classes in both Tai Chi and Chi-Gong.  You may want to see if a community organization or senior center in your area offers these classes, too.

Whatever exercise you choose, don't stop.  The people who reap the greatest benefit from these programs are those who keep it up.  If doing a half hour of exercise a day seems too much, break it into smaller pieces.  In fact, spending 10 - 15 minutes engaging in gentle exercises several times a day may be especially effective in helping someone who has become sedentary because of their pain.

As always, check with a doctor before starting any exercise program.

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photo courtesy of wikipedia.com/commons

5 comments:

  1. This is really useful information. I have a friend with this condition and she has been helped also by yoga and using weights.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The symptoms of fibromyalgia in children usually start around puberty, are more often in girls than boys, and include persistent painful points on the body, sleep disturbances, and may run in families.

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    1. This is very interesting. I had no idea that the symptoms of fibromyalgia could show up that young! Thank you so much for your comment.

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