Exercise for Fibromyalgia

New Life OutlookNew Life Outlook Moderator
edited July 2014 in Exercise
imageExercise for Fibromyalgia - New Life Outlook | Fibromyalgia

Exercise is the last thing that many people with fibromyalgia want to do, but many physicians believe that exercise is the first line in treatment .

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  • Yoga in and of itself CAN be THE exercise you need. Find a certified teacher who does gentle yoga, Like Iyengar (focus is on proper alignment), Kripalu (focus is on supported postures - both offer modifications to nearly all postures) or Chair yoga. Tai Chi is also a gentle way to stretch and strengthen the body and improve your balance. Qi Gong and mediation can be very beneficial in dealing with pain and stiffness as well as the emotional/mental toll of FM. Shop around. Explain you have FM and what you are looking for, ask if you can proctor a class (to observe) to see if it is right for you. Not all yoga instructors are created equally.
  • I have found that exercising helps to loosen up my muscles and it really does help a lot.
  • Exercising is essential in managing pain levels. Whether it is simply stretching, slow walking, or any form of movement will help. I started off with water aquatics, first just walking around the pool and moving my arms, then I actually took a class and enjoyed the exercising movements. When I felt brave enough to tackle exercising on land, I started off using weight equipment only 10 pounds since I couldn't grip the free weights because I had no strength in my hands. Now after ten years since my diagnosis, I can use free weights with the help of exercise gloves, can do a senior fit class with five pound weights and on the every other day schedule of going to our fitness center to use the weight equipment, depending on the machines can press either 20 to 50 pounds of weight. The added bonus is that after two years of sticking to this routine, my bone density went from being in the osteoporosis category to now osteopenia which proved how important weight bearing exercising is to bone health and women after menopause so be patient and start of literally with baby steps and see how far you can go. Gentle hugs to all!
  • Yes, exercise is needed. Thank you for this article. I am a wellness coach and a 40 year fibro person. It is vital to get out and move, learn to control your pain or it will take over. I just posted that I now do Jiu Jitsu, and I feel so so much better. People go but you have Fibro, like they automatically think I should sit and wither up. I take hard knocks, thrown around, slammed down and it feels good, because one my mind isn't on the fibro it's somewhere else and I'm having a good time. Yoga, stretching, increasing cardio, even lifting weights that you can manage by doing as many as you can in 20 seconds, stop and rest for 5 minutes and redo. Keeps your muscles toned. the burn will feel good as you are doing something... Love this article. Finally something on doing and not sitting.
  • @Iris_Holtz_Taub Perfect love your response on the weight lifting and the exercise. I so too am there with you on this 100%.
  • I highly agree that exercise withing your limits, does help:)
  • *I hired a trainer at my gym. Together we have worked with a plan in order for me to become stronger as well as to assist with my pains. We are focusing on targeting the areas where the problems are the worst. Eventually, I will be training my entire body.

    I have become stronger:) Unfortunately, I have injured both of my wrists so I cannot perform upper body exercises. I still exercise my legs. The treadmill at varying speeds as well as inclines, have allowed me to have an entire body workout (within my limits)until I am able to perform abs and arms again. An example of my treadmill workout:

    I start at 2.8 for 2 mins.(without an incline) After that, I increase the speed to 3.1-3.3(depending on how I feel that day) for 2 mins. Later, I decrease the speed to 2.7 and raise the incline(ramp) to 11.5 for 2 mins. followed by an increase on speed back to 3.1-3.3 (without an incline) for 2 mins. and lastly repeat the cycle for a total of 20, 25-30 mins. (Again depending on how I feel), I lower the speed to 2.6, later 1.8, 1.0, 0.8 for 3 mins to cool down) Lastly, I stretch out and I am done. During this time I drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated.

    *If you cannot hire a trainer due to the charges, share your concern and offer a price that you can afford. You will be surprised how this may work:)

    I hope that my lengthy message assists you.

    Have a nice day!
  • With Fibro I find working out increases my muscle pain to make it feel like I was hit by a truck.But then again I also have RSD and non union in my foot,all over arthritis (only 35 with bad arthritis),many spine problems and osteoporosis along with the fibro so maybe that is why the pain becomes so high.Sometimes I have to take an entire week off from working out.Sometimes the arthritis in my hips and knees keeps me from walking.The pain from the non union and RSD in my foot and my spine problems make walking very painful.Sometimes I can do it and sometimes I just cant.I found that as long as I listen to my body I can stay in the working out loop.I cant do as much as a lot of people but any bit helps for better overall health.I have a recumbent exercise bike.So when I cant walk I use the bike.I try to do some yoga through out the day,I love yoga but with a non union and RSD in my foot weight bearing exercise is incredibly painful.But I work around it.If I pay attention to my body and listen to it I can lead a fairly active lifestyle.It has taken 5 years to get to the point I am not in a cast for 3 months or more each year.It has taken me a couple of years to find out what I can and cant do with my back.It took a lot of time to figure out my boundaries with my many pain conditions but it is worth the effort.Soon I will be getting a spinal cord simulator,my trial took me from 7k steps most days to 13k steps (Fitbit) a day without paying a pain price.So soon I will be able to go even further with my fitness.Exercise does not help my pain it increases it significantly but it is worth it.Before all of the pain I loved yoga and I loved to roller blade .I used to be very fit I looked great and felt mostly great I had other health problems during that time.I miss those days desperately .For now I am still learning my limitations and how to work through them.
  • Critical Reads about FS/CFS & Exercise:

    Unfortunately, exercise helps some fibro patients more than others and the intensity fibro patients can endure varies greatly. Just as one person's flu may not be as bad as another's, so to does fibro vary from person to person. Combined with comorbid illnesses that frequently accompany fibro there really is no "one size fits all" approach to fibro fitness. The "just do it" attitude hurts more patients than it helps, as patients need to learn to listen to their body and promote gentle exertion.

    Even the amount of exercise suggested by the Mayo Clinic for fibro patients is far less rigorous than the standard recommendations for cadiac health. "Consider starting with walking two minutes a day and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes two or three times a week." http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/in-depth/fibromyalgia-and-exercise/art-20093376

    Moreover over exertion and pushing through the pain can increase severity of symptoms and cause flare ups. These can last from days to weeks to months!

    My personal failure with over-exercise/work should serve as a cautionary tale. I overdid it early this year. I stacked a highly physical part-time job shelving books, with part-time volunteer work, and frequent exercise (including yoga, tai chi, and hiking). At first I was making progress, for months I felt better, but I kept pushing to do more and ignored the warning signs of burnout and exhaustion. My body rebelled with increasing pain, muscle spasms, overwhelming fatigue, and frequent migraines. As the pattern grew more severe, I rested where I could, but tried to keep everything going. Finally, I had to start making cutbacks in exercise and volunteering just to keep my job...which it turned out I couldn't, as my health severely declined. I had to resign due to suffering severe dizziness and black outs at work-- my body was literally shutting down. I went from hiking 7-20 miles per week last summer and working 20 hrs a week at a library to barely being able to do basic chores this summer. I'm in so much pain this autumn that I cry when I wash my hair and I have difficulty walking, standing, and even sitting for any period of time. Four months after I quit my job I am still paying the price of "pushing through" and overdoing it with physical activity and exercise.

    Balance is so key, and while encouragement is great, trying to guilt/shame people into exercise is not a good approach. Shame is already too much of the chronic illness identity. We are already gas-lighted for suffering invisible illness and made to feel like we just aren't trying hard enough to get better.

    I advocate exercise is crucial for health, but as a cautionary note: Never do more than you can. Never let anyone guilt you into pushing your limits into flare-ups and a downward spiral. Go at your own pace. Rest when you need to. As long as you do what you can when you can, you are doing great.


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