Fitness Protocol for Fibromyalgia Exercises

Fitness Protocol for Fibromyalgia Exercises

Fibromyalgia patients need to adhere to a regular routine of fibromyalgia exercises.

According to the American Council on Exercise (one of my certifying bodies) people with fibromyalgia need to avoid being sedentary. Exercise needs to be tailored to each individual. The safe and effective programs need to include moderate forms of cardio, light stretching, and strength training.

As a trainer specializing in fibromyalgia, I like to add that ROM (range of motion) exercises are essential as well and I have developed many ROM, fibro specific exercises that create a routine of fibro safe and essential exercises to promote agility and reduce overall pain.

This is especially important as we age. When reaching up to a cabinet or down to the floor for example, these ROM exercises come into play and help to protect the fibro body.

Factors to consider with any program include age, condition and any aggravating factors.

Sample Fibromyalgia Exercises Recommendations

Mode: Low impact for the beginner, including walking, hiking, swimming, elliptical, biking. Some people can use light weights and increase slowly over time and/or use other strengthening exercises. Although we incorporate yoga moves into our fitness routines, a full class of yoga or pilates is not always feasible for a person living with fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Here, I demonstrate using a small exercise ball to lightly compress the tender points inside of the knees while working both abdomen and leg muscles..

The form of compression can be anything from a small or medium size ball to a softer material foam roller. 

Again, working with a trainer who really understands fibro is the key. I have fibro, but most trainers do not. If you suspect they are not familiar with fibromyalgia, then it might be best to move on rather than risk injury.

Guidelines

There are many techniques and tools that I use when working with clients to ensure safety AND effectiveness. Even down to the correct form of breathing which is essential with any adrenal/thyroid involvement.

Intensity: Start slow in the beginning and work up to a moderate intensity. Remember that consistency is the key and every workout may not feel like progress. That is ok and very normal; the important thing is to get up, suit up and show up, and that is what we build on. If Post Exercise Malaise becomes an issue after 2 consecutive workouts, go back to the previous intensity for a period of time, then work up slowly and consistently again.

Duration: Gradually progress to 150 minutes or more per week of aerobic activity. Some people with more severe fibro or fatigue issues, may need to begin with shorter and more frequent durations, 10 minutes, and build over time.

Frequency: Establish a consistent and regular pattern of exercise 3-5 days per week. I suggest using a journal to record short term goals and to plan workouts ahead of time.

  I will add as well that strength training with fibromyalgia exercise is essential but also one of the most challenging areas for the fibro body. However, isn’t it exciting to envision yourself building strength, tone and even seeing muscle definition over time? And yet, it does not matter how long it takes.

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Working and strengthening the upper back, shoulders, neck and scapula areas of the fibro body can be difficult, but when we take the time to avoid injury and progress slowly, it can and will happen when we are patient and consistent. If you have a side of arthritis with your fibromyalgia, then you know that staying in motion is essential but getting there is not always easy. With safe and effective routines, we should work to consistently put all of our joints through a regular range of motion. 

There is a problem with machines in the gym and even with some exercise videos that place stress on the scapula, neck and shoulders. What seems like a small amount of stress can lead to pain and flu-like symptoms when incorrect exercises are performed. Machines for the upper body often put the upper body and/or arms at a pushing angle that is not conducive to fibro. 

Working with body weight and free weights takes focus but we can accomplish good results without the undue stress. 

Along with a healthier musculo-skeletal system we are also creating a more independent body as well. That is priceless. As many of us like to say, “We may have fibro, but it does not have us”, not when we are using all of the tools to  “live and workout smarter”.

References:

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