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Can I still exercise with fibromyalgia?


Exercise is actually one of the ways you can alleviate some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Be gentle with your body when exercising, however; you don’t want a pulled muscle on top of your fibromyalgia symptoms.

An aspect of fibromyalgia is high stress, whether it be a factor that contributes to fibromyalgia symptoms or a byproduct of fibromyalgia. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, and by relieving stress you relieve the physical responses to stress – e.g. tensing muscles, which leads to more pain.

Getting your blood pumping through exercise also means getting more blood to your muscles, and more blood in your muscles helps reduce muscle pain. Heart-pounding activities like jogging, running, and cycling and great for getting the blood pumping, but they are also, unfortunately, high impact on a sensitive body.

A wonderful alternative option when it comes to exercising when suffering from fibromyalgia is doing water exercise, also called water aerobics. It’s the easiest exercise routine out of there, and it’s also a lot of fun to splash around and feel good! Water exercise eases deep muscle pain and is an extremely low-impact activity with high return. It’s such a good option for all fibromyalgia suffers; you don’t even need to know how to swim to do it! Some classes take place in the shallow end, your head always staying above water, and other classes take place in the deep end wherein you bob about with a life jacket or foam belt on. Water is naturally buoyant, helping your limbs move without as much input from your muscles, you can perform moves that would otherwise be too painful on dry land.

If you don’t access to a swimming pool or you don’t want to whip out your swimsuit, another low-impact exercise solution favored by people with fibromyalgia is Pilates. Physical therapy is a traditional treatment for fibromyalgia, and Pilates is a nice, safe continuation of the stretching and strength exercises seen in physical therapy. Pilates also teaches posture; poor posture has been noted to increase sensitivity in the eighteen fibromyalgia tender points. Pilates also encourages a mind-body connection, whereas many fibromyalgia patients want to disconnect from their bodies. By showing them that their bodies can get stronger, and finding some relief from symptoms during exercise, a new sense of well-being is fostered through Pilates.

One of the unexpected hurdles with exercising with fibromyalgia actually comes from not wanting to deal with fibromyalgia pain in front of others. It is uncomfortable to have an attack of pain when you just want to go to your yoga class or weight lift. In these cases, the best solution is to know what you need to do to help yourself feel better quicker, whether that be a fast-acting pain medication or meditation and deep breathing. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t berate yourself for not being able to do everything you used to.

New fibromyalgia patients often fear exercise because their bodies are already in so much pain, and they assume that exercise will only increase the pain. However, exercising for 20 minutes three to four times a week – just doing any activity that gets your heart rate up – has been proven to help with fibromyalgia pain.