Exercising with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition associated with pain in 11 of 18 specific tender points across the body. Beyond pain, symptoms also include sleep disturbances, fatigue, morning stiffness, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As an arthritis-related condition, people may be inclined to treat with medication and rest, but the addition of exercise and meditation improve results.

Exercise increases muscle strength to combat weakness, increases muscle and joint mobility, improves sleep quality and emotional state, decreases fatigue, and may decrease the frequency and intensity of flare ups. When beginning an exercise program, people with fibromyalgia should start slowly and listen to their body to help determine the best intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise without triggering a flare up.

It is recommended that fitness programs include aerobic training, resistance training, and flexibility training.

  • Aerobic exercise (activities that raise your heart rate) like walking and cycling are beneficial in bouts as little as 10 minutes. From there increase the amount of time you exercise at once and how many days per week. Swimming is very popular because it's low impact and increases movement freedom.

  • Resistance training using low weights and high repetitions increases muscle endurance and muscle strength without stressing the body into a flare up. Building muscular endurance makes daily activities easier and protects the body's against potential flare ups.

  • Stretching should be a major emphasis before, during and after exercise to ensure muscles are relaxed. Yoga, pilates and tai chi improve flexibility, strength, and balance while promoting relaxation.

* Exercise should be decreased if a flare up occurs

Exercises for when your tender point is your: HIP: Squats (variations can be made to include all ability level) LOWER BACK: Bridge pose.Too easy? March your feet without tilting your hips from side to side KNEE: marching with high knees, walking up stairs (ensure knees are soft and not locked)

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