Water Aerobics and Total Body Fitness
Lynda Huey and Robert Forster developed a water protocol specifically for those dealing with fibromyalgia. Below are some techniques outlined in The Complete Waterpower Workout Book:
- Deep water warm-up: Slow low-impact warm-up exercises to loosen muscles and prepare for more intense workouts.
- Deep-water interval training: An interval training session is created by combining three skills — deep water running, deep water walking and flies (hip and shoulder ab/adduction) — in the deep water. Warm-up speed is varied to create alternate periods of work and rest.
- Deep-water power exercises: The following exercise for fibromyalgia help strengthen the body gently and safely: sit kicks, heel lifts, bent-knee twists, quick scissors, v-kicks and deep back kicks.
- Kick training: All of the following kicks target the muscles of the hips, thighs and buttocks: front and back flutter kick, bicycle kick, straight-leg deep kick and slap kick. Therefore, the lower extremities are reconditioned without any impact or undue fatigue. Patient's shoulders are protected by doing these exercises in a corner or on a step.
- Upper extremity exercises: This series of range-of-motion exercises helps shoulders and arms gain strength, flexibility and function, including front/back pull, dig deep, biceps/triceps curl.
- Swimming or assisted swimming: Most patients do either a combined stroke (breaststroke with flutter kick) or a modified backstroke. The backstroke modifications apply the least amount of pressure on the neck, upper back and shoulders.
- Watsu: This relaxation technique yields the greatest pain relief for fibromyalgia patients. The therapist cradles the patient in their arms, and then gently rotates their own body from side to side, which causes the patient's limbs to sway. During this motion, the patient floats with eyes closed and ears in the water, creating sensory deprivation, which relaxes and breaks the pain cycle.
- Waterpower workout exercises: These low-impact jumping exercises are optional and used only on days when a patient has little pain and feels strong and energetic. Exercises such as lunges, crossovers, squat jumps, side straddles, leg swings, front kicks, back kicks and frog jumps give patients a sense of athleticism they don't normally possess.
Make It Your Own
These techniques are extremely successful under the supervision of a water aerobics instructor or aquatic therapist. However, if you choose to implement water aerobics on your own, perhaps it doesn’t have to be complicated. The biggest step, as they say, is getting started.
Most of all, make it fun! It is springtime and before you know it, the kids will be ready for the pool, the beach and all things outdoors. Spouses will be ready to enjoy the sun or the gym and friends will gravitate to each other beyond their wintry walls of isolation.
What better way to develop an exercise routine than enjoying fun in the sun around water with friends and family? Don’t be shy — you just may get them into better shape as well. Rather than being excluded from social interaction due to your pain or fatigue, water therapy is a wonderful way to interact.