Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Advances in research within the last 10 to 12 years have provided information about the specific ways fibromyalgia patients need to move and exercise to minimize loss of function and enhance quality of life.
Typical fitness workouts that provide only a small amount of post-exercise soreness in healthy beginners can in fact produce delayed onset of muscle soreness in fibromyalgia patients that is so severe and leads to an ongoing cycle of exertion, flare, recovery, exertion and flare. This will be frustrating people with FM in their best efforts and attempts to get stronger, more functional and fit. Modification of your previous or old exercise habits are a must to achieve success.
Exercise avoidance leads to deconditioning, less movement, a decrease in fitness and functional ability, muscle weakness, pain, falls, body- fat weight gain and more dis-function and affection quality of life.
Breaking this cycle is possible when the focus of the exercise program is on the long-term gains. When fibromyalgia-specific-modifications are in place, gradual improvements in function and fitness is possible.
A carefully constructed fibromyalgia physical activity and exercise program can:
Release tight muscles and produce increased mobility, better posture, and less pain near joints
Reduce overall fatigue and improved sleep
In some individuals exercise may help control pain
Research shows that strengthening muscles, including muscles that hurt causes no structural damage
Secret to improvement is consistency over time.
Avoid inconsistent and over-intense training. Starting and stopping an exercise program because of too much pain is frustrating. Starting slow, with very gradual progression and being consistent in exercises frequency provides the benefits you are looking for.
Focus on 'health' training and not sports training.
Gentle stretching should become part of your daily routine
Using correct exercise technique and appropriate posture are important
Exercise program should include a variety of activities and exercise to reduce repetitive movement
Cold and heat can trigger a flare-up
Dress in layers
Stay hydrated, drink water through your day and during your workout
When you are new to exercise; at the end of your workout session you should feel you could have done more
A fibromyalgia specific physical activity and exercise program should include the following:
Breathing, posture, flexibility and relaxation
Balance and muscle strengthening exercise
Low impact cardiovascular endurance (walking, bicycling, water aerobics or swimming)
Pay attention to your inner feeling of exertion (not leg discomfort or labored breathing), use RPE- rating if perceived exercise to monitor your level of exercise intensity
Safe Effective and Beneficial
When you have additional medical conditions, your exercise program needs to be adapted to benefit these conditions as well. Your exercise program should be safe, effective and beneficial to all medical conditions such as joint replacements, balance problems and falls, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, being overweight and/or obese.
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