When I first started blogging I spent a day or two a week and focused on writing about something other than a daily log of my exercise routine or the happenings of my days. Honestly, since starting back up with the blog it has been mundane. Just a countdown of days and commentary about what routine the Les Mills Pump calendar tells me to do. I am sure many people are getting pretty bored with reading the same things over and over and over again. So from here on out I will try my best to mix in some other health and/or fitness related articles in. Mix things up a bit.
Most people know i suffer with Fibromyalgia. It makes life harder. Sometimes even the touch of my clothing against my skin hurts. It can wear on you to always be in pain and to not be able to have the quality of life you crave. Motivating to get things done is hard when you are battling with the chronic fatigue and depression that comes along with it. Most people don’t understand what fibromyalgia is. I will assure you it is real, it is not an excuse and it is hard to live with. With the help of my doctor we have found a combination of medications and physical activities that helps cope with the fibromyalgia and improve my daily life.
What is Fibromyalgia?
The word Fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek words for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects around 1 and 3 percent of people. The debilitating syndrome includes stiffness, chronic fatigue, diffuse tenderness, widespread muscle aches and pains, numbness, nutritional deficiencies, migraines and muscle spasms. It can make everyday activities such as working with your arms, walking, carrying objects, and most everyday chores hard to accomplish. In my own experience during a flare it is especially hard to do anything where my arms have to be raised up or have to do the same repeated motions in general. Most people who have this condition have to deal with pain, fatigue, psychological distresses and difficulty coping with stress. Fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by increased sensitivity to pain as well as environmental factors.
Fibro is quite often considered an arthritic condition even though it is not a form of arthritis because it does not inflame or damage the joints or muscles. However it does cause significant pain and fatigue and it can interfere with a person’s ability to perform simple everyday tasks. Just like arthritis, fibro is categorized as a rheumatic condition. Simply put a condition that impairs soft tissues and joints as well as causing chronic pain.
Exercise and Fibromyalgia
Many people think that common sense would suggest that people with fibromyalgia should not exercise or be anything other than sedentary. In reality you can’t afford not to be at least a little active when you have fibro. But it seems that most patients with fibromyalgia avoid physical activity and limit it due to fears that it will worsen their symptoms.
Exercise when done properly will interrupt the downhill spiral of muscle and cardiovascular reconditioning which can lead to loss of function or atrophy. Deconditioning can and will lead to increased pain and soreness after the smallest amounts of activity. It can also lead to or worsen tight muscles, lack of range of motion and postural balances. All these things put further strain on the body and make moving harder.
A well-balanced exercise routine had been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. Just remember that starting can be a challenge and to star small with simple activities such as walking and other gentile exercises. It is important to slowly build up endurance slowly. Just be sure that a doctor approves your activities and be sure to be honest with your doctor about how certain activities affect your pain level, flexibility and general mobility. Many doctors recommend being active and if your doctor has not brought up the option to you talk to him and find out what you can do. From personal experience exercise has helped with the depression and moodiness that comes along with having to deal with chronic pain. With more strength and increased flexibility everyday tasks are not as impossible. I only have to take maybe two breaks from blow-drying my hair instead of the break every minute to minute of a half of holding a blow drier. It may sound lame but small victories are victories nonetheless. An accomplishment or positive change is positive and even small victories deserve celebration.
Exercising releases the levels of stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline so it has a neurochemical benefit to fibro patients. Exercise also increases the body’s production of endorphins and those are your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Along with those benefits there is the sense of pride and confidence in knowing you accomplished something. Your strength and stamina will increase and there is even the possibility to have your waist like shrink!
Just to be clear, I am not in any way, shape or form a doctor or any type of medical professional. This was written based on my own personal experience as a person with fibromyalgia, what I have learned from my wonderful doctors as well as books, articles and medical journals on the subject of fibromyalgia. Be sure to clear any exercise routine with your doctor. And remember every person feels the effects of fibromyalgia differently. Physical activity may not be recommended in every case. But it does improve the quality of my life.