Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that is characterized by extensive musculoskeletal pain, non-restorative sleep, profound fatigue, cognitive malfunction and other symptoms, which have an adverse impact on the physical and emotional functions of the body and thus deteriorates the quality of life. Fibromyalgia affects about 5 million people in the US and majority of them are middle-aged women. Researchers have not yet concluded the exact cause of fibromyalgia that is why fibro patients usually need a combination of multiple treatments to alleviate their pain and discomfort.
Apart from other alternative treatment options and prescription medications, exercise is also integrated in the treatment plan. People with fibromyalgia usually steer clear of exercise, deeming it to be their worst enemy, which can exacerbate their fibro flare ups. But exercise is usually recommended by specialists in the management of fibro pain because of the innumerable benefits that it has to proffer.
Benefits of exercise for a fibro patient
Exercise not only reduces the perception of pain in individuals but it also boosts energy levels, stamina and endurance and strengthens the muscle function, helping fibro patients overcome their limited mobility. Moreover, exercise instigates a positive mental state and causes the release of feel-happy hormones known as endorphins, which chuck out depression and anxiety and uplift the mood and spirits. Fibro patients more frequently complain of insomnia and non-restorative sleep.
Exercise can help manage this symptom and improve the quality of sleep. But it is important that a fibro patient consult a physical therapist to know his body’s limitations and to find out which exercises are best suited in his current physical condition. Here are some of the optimum exercises that a fibro patient can engage in to deal effectively with the flare-ups of fibromyalgia.
This is considered to be the most beneficial of exercises as it is a low-impact activity that can reduce muscle stiffness and pain and the only prerequisite is a pair of good walking shoes. The greatest benefit is that anyone can walk anywhere in all four seasons.
People with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia should really engage in swimming as an individual defies gravity while swimming, which prevents the risk of sustaining any injury on joints or muscles. Besides, it is enjoyable and easily executed.
Yoga involves deep breathing and stretching, which helps to ease the pain and improve the level of fitness. The physical postures incorporated in yoga help increase the range of motion and meditation can alleviate the cognitive issues.
Stretching can be done anywhere and working against gravity is beneficial as it improves blood circulation to the muscles and joints and improves mobility.
Light strengthening exercises help in strengthening the muscles, improving the pain and boosting the energy levels. But it is important to pace the exercises and get the advice of a professional trainer on how to use resistance to build strength.
Fibro patients should recognize their body’s limitations and start slowly. It is recommended to commence the training program with low-impact and light exercises like walking, swimming or bicycling. It is normal to feel an increase in pain intensity when exercise regimen is commenced, but the intensity of the pain will begin to decrease as the body gets adapted to physical activity.