What is fibromyalgia and it is as bad as it is pronouncing it?
It is, by Oxford terms, a rheumatic condition characterized by muscular or musculoskeletal pain with stiffness and localized tenderness at specific points on the body.
And yes it is a pain, for the one suffering from it. The struggle is real; very very real. A struggle that frankly no one other than those in suffering can understand completely. I’ve come across several of my clients with fibromyalgia and decided it’s about time I openly discuss the matter and help a sister or brother out.
It’s frustrating, causes chronic pain, and affects an individual mentally, emotionally, and physically. Often poorly understood, it causes musculoskeletal pain and also takes a toll on the bearer’s sleep, fatigue levels, memory as well as mood. I shan’t go into the finer details as I’m no doctor, but if you are suffering from the condition, please know that I understand, to the best I can, and am here to help and bring greater awareness to those around us. Don’t ever let it bring you down.
In this article, I’m going to be discussing how your pain-in-the-A fibromyalgia symptoms can be overcome through various exercises!
It has been evident that aerobic exercises such as running, jogging, and walking can help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms, improving your quality of life and stiffened muscles.
Start with a low to moderate pace, depending on your fitness level, especially if you are just starting out. Know yourself!
If you are concerned about knee and joint issues and are looking for alternative low-impact exercises, try swimming and/or cycling instead!
Resistance exercises may or may not involve additional weight. Beginners can start off by doing bodyweight exercises that require little to no equipment. An example would be this home workout routine I’ve put together which, as the prior name suggests, you could do in the comfort of your own home.
If you are already of decent fitness level and would like to incorporate weights, I would suggest starting off with not more than 5kg/10lb dumbbells. Increase the weight gradually as you progress, when you feel confident enough to do so. Engage a personal trainer to curate workout routines suitable for you and guide you through them so you can be sure you’re in safe hands and your progress is being tracked. Never go from zero to hero or do anything you’re unsure of which may be potentially unsafe.
Progressive strength and resistance training the right way have been shown to improve overall health, muscle strength, and mood in affected individuals.
Yoga is a great way to distress and engages your mind and body as one. It offers a slow-and-steady approach to physical fitness and could act as a bridge into other forms of physical exercise such as the aforementioned, and is perfect for anyone who cannot partake in high-intensity exercises due to their condition. It strengthens the core while loosening up stiff muscles and joints through gentle stretching poses and exercises.
Yoga, through its mind-body connection, has been said to relieve depression and mental barriers like delusive disabilities or fear of moving out of one’s comfort zone. This would make a huge positive impact on one’s emotional state of mind.
Another activity you might want to partake in would be group workouts. This can greatly motivate someone with fibromyalgia; just by having others around you with similar goals and being surrounded by lively, positive energy. You could start off by picking group classes of low intensity where you would not have trouble keeping up. As you progress, you might decide to explore higher intensity options or even move on to intermediary/advanced versions of the class, as you deem fit!
Some gyms or personal trainers offer group classes especially dedicated to people with chronic pains and certain physical challenges. This would help by making you feel a lot safer, more comfortable, and understood by others, as you ease your way into becoming more physically active.
Experiment with different approaches to exercise to see what works best for you!
Everyone’s body is different. Regular exercise will help improve your threshold of pain making symptoms a lot more bearable. At the same time, it reduces the chances of muscle wastage and weakened joints. Sweating it out also releases several hormones, endorphins, and serotonin which put you in a ‘high’ and happy state. Endorphins make you feel exhilarated and block out feelings of pain, helping you through periods of discomfort during exercise. Serotonin is the chemical responsible for feelings of happiness, having a healthy appetite, and restful sleep, something many of those with fibromyalgia lack.
With that said, most importantly, know your limits, as overdoing anything can backfire and have a negative effect. Working out to the point of extreme exhaustion will not help your cause. If you’re unsure of what to do, consult a professional to coach you and advise you what sort of activities may or may not be good for you to engage in, and even guide you through them. As long as you’re on the right track, you will notice the differences both physically and emotionally, feeling a lot stronger, more energetic, healthier and happier!