Category Archives: Pilates

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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A Call To Action: Start Pilates Gradually – But Start!

If you’re doing no exercise at the present time, start by exercising at a mild-to-moderate intensity for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, 3 or more times per week. That may not sound like much – but if you go from doing nothing to doing this amount of exercise, and gradually increase the intensity, frequency, and duration of activity, you’ll improve your health more than a person who goes from running 30 miles per week to running 40 miles a week.

How could this be? Recent pioneering research has shown that people who don’t exercise at all (we refer to them as the least active, least fit – or the bottom 20 percent) have the greatest risk of developing cardiovascular problems and other chronic diseases. If you get out of this “high risk” category by doing even a modest amount of exercise each week, you’ll substantially decrease your risk for a heart attack or stroke and increase you quality of life.

How does Pilates fit into this discussion? How does Pilates follow the principle of inertia? A body at rest tends to remain at rest and a body in motion tends to remain in motion. Pilates is movement; movement is life.  It is a practice of moving, breathing, becoming stronger and more mobile!

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Fibromyalgia Management Tool: Pilates

“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.”  

We, myself included, all know what fibromyalgia is, and finding one treatment to alleviate all of the many symptoms isn’t always possible. Sometimes finding ANY treatment that helps seems impossible.

There was a study on the effects of Pilates training on people with fibromyalgia syndrome in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. December 2009. Vol. 90. No. 12. Pp. 1983-1988.  The results of this study may help some people with this condition. Fifty (50) women diagnosed with fibromyalgia participated in an exercise program three times a week for 12 weeks. The women were divided into two separate exercise groups. One group was instructed and supervised in doing a Pilates program. The instructor was a certified Pilates trainer. The second (control) group did a home program of relaxation and stretching for the same 12-week time period. The participants ranged in age from 24 to 63 years old. Except for the fibromyalgia diagnosis, these women were in good health without evidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, or other significant health problems.

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