Category Archives: Exercise

“Oh my Gosh, I’m Lost!” Coping With Fibromyalgia

No, you are not crazy. Your pain and fatigue are real and have a cause.

For one of my patients it came to a head one day while she was driving home from work on the expressway and suddenly realized, “Oh my gosh, I’m lost.”

She shared her experience with me…  She pulled off to the side in amazement. She could hardly think of anything but being tired, getting lost cut through the fog to have an impact. Where was I? Had I passed my exit? Nothing looked familiar. I had to think back to what I last remembered. I had just left work, hadn’t I?

And the little voice in my head kept saying, “I am so tired.” I broke down and cried, but there was no relief in it, so but a moment later I was saying to myself, “I don’t think I’ve gone far enough” as I pulled back onto the expressway.

Soon, I was crying again. “Maybe I should just run my car into that wall. Then I’d get some sleep!” No, I wasn’t serious. I was just being sarcastic with myself. All I wanted was to be myself again! I stopped driving that day for over a year.

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Fibromyalgia Exercise Prescriptions–But What About the Side Effects?

Fibromyalgia exercise prescriptions should be individualized based on your initial functional capacity, severity of pain and fatigue, and tolerance to the problems that activity causes you. A general rule is to do less than you think can be accomplished. Success is a powerful reinforcement and increases the likelihood of maintaining an exercise program.

Inactive persons with FM should begin at a low intensity that is comfortable and pleasant, performing just 5 to 10 minutes of exercise, 3 or more times per week (daily when possible). Recognize that you may have some tolerable short-term increases in pain and fatigue. High intensity, stop-and-go activities and sporadic workouts should be avoided, since overloading sensitive muscle tissues may result in a ‘flare up’ of FM symptoms.

Participate in a variety of activities to avoid repeatedly stressing the same muscles and joints. If you exercise at an appropriate intensity, frequency, and duration, the symptoms caused by the physical activity should resolve within the first few weeks of exercise.

This diagram below provides a graphic representation of a proposed dose-response curve for exercise.

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Living With Fibromyalgia–You Are Not Alone!

As much as we have come to expect, or at least hope, for medicine to find the answers to our health challenges in a single pill or treatment, fibromyalgia may be too complex for a simple solution. The help we seek will come from many sources, including the resources of the body itself. Tapping into our innate healing potential takes motivation, will power and knowledge, but the results can be more than worth the effort… I would like to share some of the thoughts, other fibromyalgia patients shared.

I used to NEVER exercise, but I started going to physical therapy and was forced to exercise a little every day. It has greatly helped the pain and achy hurt of fibro for me. From 30 minutes or even 5 or 10 minutes a day greatly helps. I’m nowhere near physically fit, but whatever I can do I do to try to live a normal life again.

I stay one step ahead of Fibromyalgia with exercise. Prior to fibro, I was a gym-rat (between age 24-35). I was someone who was a card carrying member of the local World Gym in Waterford, MI, and I went religiously. I was in great shape physically, had healthy numbers, and also had great stamina.  Since fibro, my whole life has slowed down considerably, and I have become slightly deconditioned. My whole body is not free of pain and fatigue, however, exercise and correct diet has allowed me to maintain better health overall. My cholesterol levels have gone down, my blood pressure has been reduced to a safer level, consistently, and I have more energy overall. Exercise has reduced my pain, fatigue, headaches, stiffness and my mood is much better. Overall I am in a much better place because of my daily exercise.

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Have you Looked at Your Posture Today?

One of the first things I do as a Pilates instructor is observe a person’s posture. Good posture is the position of the body that puts the least stress on the muscles, joints, and ligaments when sitting, standing, or lying down. The spinal column is the foundation the body supports itself on. When you look at it from the side, you can see that there are three main curves in it.

The neck (cervical) region and lower back (lumbar) region of the spine have inward curves. The mid-back (thoracic) region has an outward curve. These curves have a normal angle, which is the neutral position of the spine. Maintaining this neutral position puts the least stress on the back and neck.

If you slouch while sitting or standing, you lose the normal inward curve in your lower back. You also increase the curving in the mid-back and neck area. Doing so puts undue stress on the whole spine, because it over-stretches some muscles while tightening others. Also, your head isn’t resting on top of your body then. This forward head position fatigues the neck muscles, leading to increased tension and pain. In good sitting or standing posture the head and upper body are balanced on top of the lower back and pelvis, maintaining the normal curves of the spine. This minimizes the stress on the muscles, ligaments, and spinal discs.

Maintaining good posture requires you to be aware of what good posture is and how it feels. Also, you need the strength and (more importantly) the flexibility to achieve the proper position.

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Movement & Exercise: Best Management Tools for Fibromyalgia

“There are many reasons why people develop Fibromyalgia, but no one really knows. But we do know physical exercise as a management tool for this very debilitating condition, is key to controlling ones pain.” 

 

Let’s face the facts. Despite over four decades of the so-called “exercise revolution” in the United States, the traditional model for getting people more physically active (i.e., a structured exercise program) has been only marginally effective. In fact, recent reports from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that approximately 70 percent of American adults are not physically active on a regular basis, and 25 percent of the adult population engage in no structured physical activity at all. To understand why people sometimes lack the motivation for regular physical activity, one must first acknowledge a simple yet important fact: exercise is time consuming. Therefore, structured exercise may extend the day or compete with other valued interests and responsibilities of daily life.

Fibromyalgia patients face an additional challenge–the initial increase in pain and stiffness immediately after exercising. Consequently, many mistakenly believe that exercise actually worsens their condition. In fact, 83 percent of patients who have FM do not engage in regular aerobic exercise, and most of those tested have below average fitness levels. Some sobering reports also suggest that many individuals with FM have aerobic fitness levels of healthy individuals who are twice their age!  Yikes!!

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