Fibromyalgia and Water Therapy
Spring is here — the time of year when life begins to stir again and activities increase as people make their way outdoors.
This can be scary and frustrating for those dealing with fibromyalgia. As much as we want to participate, some days, it takes all one can muster to get moving. Still, moving is exactly what you need to be doing!
If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, at this very moment you are doing something you may not even be aware of — clenching, an involuntary reaction to stress that leads to more pain.
This is why a stressful lifestyle and too much time spent sitting or laying down is like double jeopardy for those suffering with fibromyalgia pain. It is natural for us to avoid activity when we're in pain, but movement is exactly what we need.
The Value of Exercise in Pain Management
Studies show that if a person can develop a routine of exercising three times a week, even low impact exercises, it will help control fibromyalgia pain and muscle tenderness. Exercise also relieves fatigue and depression, and helps people feel better about themselves and more in charge of their lives. Exercise helps your mood, helps you sleep better and helps your pain.
But it's easier said than done sometimes isn’t it? I know for me personally as a FM sufferer, exercise is a difficult task on some days. Though once I get moving I feel so much better and can accomplish more after loosening those achy, tense muscles.
If traditional exercise such as walking or stretching or even yoga is too painful, there is another alternative that could be an ideal solution – especially as the warmer weather approaches. That solution is water aerobics, or water therapy as it is sometimes called.
Why Water Therapy?
If you stay extremely stiff or live with a high level of pain each day, traditional exercise is a daunting task, but water therapy is a wonderful place to start for developing an exercise routine. It is also a great alternative for those dealing with obesity in addition to their fibromyalgia.
- Warm water from a shower or bath can be very comforting — it is the same with water therapy in a pool. Water aerobics get blood flow to muscles and tendons without stressing your joints.
- Water offers resistance, which helps muscles get stronger. It actually provides a three-dimensional resistance to movement so muscles develop more equally in all directions.
- Water applies hydrostatic pressure to bodies immersed in it, which reduces swelling and discomfort. So, exercising in water helps improve fitness while treating your pain at the same time.
- The natural buoyancy of water helps you move and allows you to exercise in ways that would otherwise be painful. It eliminates painful tissues and joints and provides an ease of movement that is not possible with routine exercise for those suffering with fibromyalgia.
- You don’t need to know how to swim. Should you sign up for aquatic therapy or a water aerobics class, the instructor will conduct the workout in shallow water and if you are taken to the deeper end of the pool, you bob in deep water with a foam belt, floatation devices or a life jacket.
Whether you choose water aerobics under the care of an instructor, a physical therapist in a heated facility or in your own backyard pool, it is a wonderful way to implement exercise into your weekly routine.
The good news about structured aquatic therapy is that most insurers, workers' comp and private companies pay for or reimburse the therapy if prescribed by a licensed medical professional.