I have found that the best fibromyalgia stretching exercises are more like range of motion exercises with LIGHT stretching included. This is because the fibro body is more sensitive to ‘conventional’ stretching. When people with fibro or osteo issues stretch too far, especially without proper conditioning, this can lead to Post Exercise Malaise, or worse, injury. See, this is because the fibro body has a tendency to store pain and past traumas inside the muscles, tendons, joints, etc.
Yoga or other types of deep stretching can be beneficial for some people, but not all. We want to be sure the body is warm and muscles are loose, not contracted nor TRPs (trigger points) present. When attempting any stretching beyond normal means, it is best to start slow and again, incorporate range of motion exercises FIRST. Also, ROM exercises create greater agility by increasing strength and flexibility in everyday activities.
ROM or Range of Motion is simply creating greater agility and range by performing exercises that will not only increase flexibility but also PROTECT the fibro body during activites of daily living that can sometimes lead to injury when least expected.
Lifting legs (lower leg and knee lifts) reaching arms up and to the sides, bending to the side, bending over with range variance, bridging, etc.. anything that increases range within the entire body.
When reaching to a high cabinet OR down to the floor, a conditioned body will better adapt and not be so susceptible to injury.
Along with intentional breathing, we want to always be aware of our core.
Mornings are best for walking, hiking, muscle activation or anything that gets the blood flowing around joints and muscles. Avoid doing yoga or Pilates in the morning unless you have found this already works for you. Most people with fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome need to approach stretching with caution. This can actually ‘activate’ not only pain but an immune response which can in turn increase the potential for post exercise malaise.
Afternoon is best for deeper stretching exercises and safe and effective strength training. ROM exercises can generally be done any time of day. (as shown here) Whenever symptoms arise from repetition or daily life, this is a great time to spend 10-15 minutes practicing range of motion with controlled and focused breathing.
Consistency is key … If we are not adhering to a consistent routine, the muscles and joints will not respond as easily and we will continue to feel that we are back at square one. Consistency will bring results. The key is showing up even on days when we don’t feel our best. Progress can occur when we least expect it.
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