Exercises You Should Do To Get Relief From Fibromyalgia

When someone is in constant pain, exercise seems to be the last thing to come in their mind.

In fact, the conventional thinking has been to take rest when in pain or not feeling well.

So how does exercising can help someone with fibromyalgia pain?

To be clear, the exercise we are talking about is not at the same intensity and frequency which you see on TV or watch online for people working on to reduce weight or build up muscles.

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The exercise for the fibromyalgia condition is different in the intensity and frequency. The primary goal here is to stimulate the nerves and to activate the pain releasing hormones from the brain naturally.

If you rely on medicines for fibromyalgia pain then there are several side- effects of using the prescription medications such as Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella.

It is not very uncommon for these medicines to have more side effects than the symptoms it is supposed to be treating.

Fibromyalgia and Exercise: How Exercise Can Help Fibromyalgia

Several types of research have shown that aerobic and other exercises are helpful in getting relief from fibromyalgia and chronic pain symptoms.

The goal here is not to push yourself to limit to make your muscles fatigue. The goal here is to optimize your body through the exercise to elevate your breath rate and get the blood flowing back again in the muscles so it can work efficiently and pain-free.

Your breathing technique is vital and not many people realize the importance of the correct form of breath.

Many of us breathe from the upper chest or do shallow breathing which causes too much carbon dioxide being breathed out rather than too little oxygen being breathed in.

Breathing out too much carbon dioxide causes the blood to become too alkaline which causes symptoms such as a feeling of dizziness, stiffness in the neck, foggy brain, cold hands and feet, tightness in muscles, bloating and digestive problems.

These are the very same common symptoms in the fibromyalgia patients.

The extended period of shallow breathing causes the tightness in the chest, stiffness in the neck and shoulder muscles, and increases anxiety.

To recover from this downward spiral of abnormal breathing, we need to start doing exercises which help to release these tight muscles first and then do deep breathing through our diaphragm.

Benefits of Exercise in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

When fibromyalgia patients start the training for the first time, they often experience increased pain. The primary cause of this pain is the tight muscles and being less aerobically fit overall.

It discourages them to not continue with the exercise as they think that exercise causes their pain symptoms worse and they stop the training.

For a beginner who has difficulty starting up the exercise program should start with a supervised exercise program. It can be either hiring a personal trainer or having a partner who can motivate them to continue the training during the first few days to improve their overall level of fitness.

Be aware that you do not start the training without a plan or schedule otherwise it is very much likely that you will lose motivation after a few days and will start procrastinating and eventually give up on the program.

You should prepare your monthly exercise schedule and do your best to stick to it for at least couple of months to develop a habit.

You will be very tempted to give up, but if you control this temptation, then you will improve your overall fitness level and also become free from your painful symptoms.

Read More: How To get Relief From Fibromyalgia Muscle Pain

Exercise Schedule for Fibromyalgia

There is no one single universal training program for everyone. It all depends on the current level of fitness and any limitation which can prohibit you from doing certain activities.

calendar-schedule

The key features of the successful program are:

  • Include exercise which involves the stretching and flexibility training for all the main muscle groups and focuses on a warm-up period that consists of stretching only.
  • Regularly do low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga and simple stretching.
  • Increase the duration or frequency of training program as you build up the stamina. The goal here is not only to achieve improvements but also to make a stable baseline.
  • Do a regular exercise at least three times a week, even on days when there is increased pain.
  • Follow proper posture and body mechanics to minimize strain on the muscles and joints. It is understandable that not everyone with fibromyalgia condition can achieve a high level of exercise program.

Some fibromyalgia people will only be able to perform daily stretching and flexibility exercise, but this will still be considered an exercise program and regardless of the level of fitness or ability to tolerate the pain, a continuous and consistent training program will improve the baseline.

If you suffer from the joint pain and muscle flairs, then include low impact exercise program such as water/aquatic exercise.

You do not need to know swimming to do water exercise. Training in shallow water helps as the water pushes the body upward which reduce the gravity stress on the muscles and joints.

If you can control the water temperature, then try to do aquatic exercise at a comfortable temperature and focus on doing a full range of motion, flexibility, strengthening and aerobic exercise.

Several local community pools offer supervised aquatic training program which you should inquire and join.

The benefit of doing these exercises are:

  • Decreased pain
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved strength
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Better weight control
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Improved self-esteem and overall feeling of well-being

Key Takeaway

Consistency is a key to achieve any benefit from the exercise program. If you  do these exercises just for few days or week, then you will miss out any potential benefits.

To be consistent, you should:

  • Create a schedule either through the online calendar or writing it on a paper-based planner. Be specific the exercise you will be doing on a given day and the duration.
  • Track your progress using a pedometer, heart rate monitor, and activity diary. These days there are different fitness watches in the market which can help you do this automatically. The majority of them come with an app to transfer your data to your phone for tracking purposes.
  • If you have difficulty maintaining self-disciple then either join a fitness center with a personal trainer or find a partner to do these exercises with you.
  • Don’t push yourself too fast or too much otherwise you risk of being getting injured which means you won’t be able to do exercises regularly and it could further demotivate you to continue your training program.

9 Exercise for Relief from Fibromyalgia Pain

#1 Walking

Walking is the most basic and natural form of exercise. You can do it regularly either indoor or outdoor. The walking exercise is different than leisure stroll in a way that you have to maintain the speed and duration of your walking program.

walking-on-treadmill

If you are a beginner, then for three weeks don’t focus on the speed but the length of the walking session.

Start with walking 15 minutes to 20 minutes at a comfortable pace and then as your fitness level improves, you should start doing it at a constant speed for a longer duration.

If do it indoor on the treadmill, then you can control the pace and duration easily. Like any other exercise program, you should properly stretch before and after exercise.

#2 Swimming

Swimming is a form of aquatic exercise. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you can still do it in shallow water with a life jacket.

swimming-with-kid

The primary purpose of swimming is to move your arms and leg properly to push yourself forward.  Swimming is a great form of exercise and is particularly useful for people with joint and muscle pain.

Swimming does not make much impact on your joints as walking and running do.

#3 Tai Chi

Tai-Chi is a form of martial art, but we are not asking you to go and fight.

Tai-Chi involves several slow-moving body and hand movements which help you to maintain proper body balance by finding your center of gravity and then gentle movements for a various range of motions.

You should do Ta-Chi on a flat surface, and it can be done indoor or outdoor. You do not need any equipment and 15-20 minutes of this exercise should improve your range of body motion.

#4 Yoga

Yoga is a very popular exercise and it includes a range of motion and focuses on the flexibility. Yoga is becoming very popular nowadays as there has been several health benefits and efficient in managing pain.

Yoga exercise focuses on helping you to relax, stretch and strengthen the body. The use of different breathing technique in yoga also contributes to reduce the stress, improves the oxygen flow and relaxes the body.

There are a wide variety of yoga techniques, but for people with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain condition should focus on breathing, relaxation, and meditation type of yoga first.

These three types of yoga are easier to do for beginners or person suffering from chronic pain as it takes your focus away from the pain, improves your body response toward the pain and teaches you to manage your pain more effectively.

#5 Cycling

Cycling improves the overall cardiovascular fitness while putting a minimum impact on your knee and joints. Cycling provides you the same level of cardiovascular benefit as other aerobic exercises such as walking, running, and jogging.

cycling

If you suffer from tense muscles in the legs, then cycling can help to loosen those tight muscles and strengthen your hips, thighs, and back.

Cycling can be done outdoor and indoor. If you are doing it indoor, then you should start slow but gradually increase the bike resistance to increase your heart rate and let your leg muscles do little extra work to loosen up.

While doing outdoor cycling, you should pick the elevation which is a little bit challenging to increase your heart rate and exert some resistance on your legs.

#6 Stretching

Doing stretching before and after exercise is important, but you can do stretching without doing the whole exercise. In fact, the stretching is a form of exercise itself.

stretching

Proper stretching of your body at least once a day helps improve your body flexibility, loosens the tight and stiff muscles and also improves the range of body motions.

#7 Squat

Squat is a beneficial exercise which strengthens your leg muscles. If you have pain or stiffness in your leg and calf muscles then squat can help you get rid of painful muscle tightness.

Squat

You should be careful with the squat and not overdo it. As squat puts a strain on your knees and you are lifting your whole-body weight up and down.

You should do very limited squat exercise at the beginning such as no more than 15- 20 squats.

The benefit of doing the limited squat is that it is very effective in losing up the tightened muscles and helps to increase the mobility and balance but does not put too much pressure on your knees.

Squat also improves the flow of body fluids which helps in removing the body waste and delivers nutrients to all tissues which help with improved bowel movements.

#8 Light weight lifting

You might be thinking that weight lifting is only for people who are looking to build up muscles.

light-weight-lift

It is true that weight lifting helps build up the muscles, but it also strengthens your muscle fibers and increases your body strength.

A light weight lifting can help you get muscles fibers to become vigorous and flexible. When you are a beginner, your focus should be on the range of motion and proper form of lifting weight rather than the amount of weight you are lifting.

Improper form can result in injury and also provide no benefit as improper form targets the wrong muscles.

For people with fibromyalgia and other painful conditions, you should not do weight lifting for more than 2 or 3 times a week for more than half hour.

#9 Golfing

Golfing or other forms of sports which include movements such as walking or running and grabbing and hitting which makes your arms to move in a wide range of motion can help you get relief from the pain.

golf

Golfing and other sports should be combined with proper stretching and warm-ups.

Similar to lifting a weight, the form is important as an improper form can put extra stress on your back and can cause back pain.

The stretching is important as if your tendons and muscles are not flexible then it can put additional stress on these muscles and cause pain and soreness.

The benefit of golfing or other sports related exercise is that you do not get bored doing it and get a broad range of health benefits.

Sports improves your cardiovascular fitness and loosen up the tight muscles and increases the muscle strength which helps you better manage your pain.

Conclusion

In fibromyalgia and other chronic painful conditions, the painkillers can provide temporary relief but for a long term no side effect relief you should focus on improving your overall fitness.

Various exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling and weight lifting can help you to improve your fitness level and control your pain.

You should be aware that exercise treatment has limitations and the biggest problem you will be facing is to continue doing these exercises regularly.

A Large number of people drop out or stop doing it after few days or weeks.

You should make an exercise schedule focusing on a different part of the body and stick to these plans. You should increase the amount of exercise steadily as you can tolerate and then increase it gradually.

A combination of relaxation and flexibility training of upper and lower limbs can help you through progressive muscle relaxation and better pain management.

Have you tried exercising to get relief from fibromyalgia symptoms?

we would love to hear your experience in the comment below.

You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.

Image Credits: Freepik and Pixabay

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Anjali
 

Chief Editor here at Fibromyalgia Pain Cure, I'm a proud mother of one and diagnosed with fibromyalgia condition. My mission is to help others to get relief from fibromyalgia symptoms and live a healthy pain free life.

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