We know that safe and effective fibromyalgia exercise is an essential component when designing a wellness plan for fibromyalgia and its related conditions. There are general recommendations and guidelines set forth by one of my certifying bodies, ACE (American Council on Exercise)
These are detailed in the Fitness Planner article here on the site, but with fibromyalgia and its primary co-conditions, I have to get a little more specific.
What about some of the more specific suggestions that can make your exercise experience a better one? And will also lessen the susceptibility to post exercise malaise, increased pain/fatigue and possible injury… I am talking about PRE and POST fibromyalgia exercise suggestions that work well to address a number of issues.
These are the kind of issues to which only people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain can relate. We know that a strong and agile body is essential to avoid injury, yet whether we are engaging in fibromyalgia exercise such as strength training exercises, aerobic activity, OR an outdoor game, the ‘pre and post’ exercises are like extra insurance for the vulnerable fibro body..
What follows are some easy suggestions to protect the body while creating a safer and more pleasurable workout experience.
PRE FIBROMYALGIA EXERCISE WORKOUT :
1. Due to circulation challenges in the feet and in the entire fibro body, I suggest doing a 5-10 minute foot bath. This has several benefits and is much easier than a full bath. It will calm the body (salts) while increasing circulation and also softening any calluses on the bottom of feet that can press on potential TRP’s (trigger points) within the foot area.
Use a large enough foot bath container with warm water and a ½ cup epsom salts. Calming the body BEFORE the workout is very helpful for those with adrenal/thyroid involvement as well.
Ginger root powder will add even greater benefit for circulation and ‘warming’ the feet (1-2 Tbsp. added to the salt water). The circulation increase here is especially helpful in the winter months when the feet tend to stay cold, as cold feet can be detrimental to workouts.
2. Warm up with ROM (Range of Motion) exercises and breath work. ROM involves moving the arms and legs with variance, creating a greater range of motion to prevent injury or strain in the workout.
Breath work is simply taking a few minutes to engage the breath. This also benefits the adrenals and thyroid before moving into greater intensity. Try doing the alternate nostril breathing technique, which is simply holding one nostril closed (with mouth closed) and breathing in and out through the other nostril. This helps to relax the body.
3. Engage in light stretching only. I find that deeper stretching is best done AFTER workouts, especially for those of us with both fibro and osteo issues. We want to avoid injury to a muscle or joint by not over-stretching a cold muscle, tendon or ligament.
(This can also be used anytime of day to help circulation and oxygen flow through it’s ability to gently lift the muscle from the skin…. And it just feels good !!)
Detailed instructions for effective application are included with tape. It might be necessary to have someone help with application or receive instruction from someone familiar with kinesiology tape and it’s applications.
5. Myofascial Release of any kind is helpful at the best time that works for you. This can be done before OR after workouts. This can be accomplished with foam rollers, bodywork done by a therapist or with some of the tools I show in videos on the facebook fitness page, Fibro Fit People. When used consistently, will help to increase blood flow and release the tight fascia. Read more about Myofascial Release here.
POST FIBROMYALGIA EXERCISE WORKOUT:
1. Take time for an extended cool down. Use light stretching and range of motion exercises. If tolerated, deeper stretching can be done at this time as well. Spend at least 10 minutes to allow the body to come back into balance after the workout.
2. While stretching and moving, incorporate some deeper breathing; deep and controlled to bring the breath, heart rate and nervous system back into balance. This will help to lessen or prevent post exercise malaise.
3. If needed, apply ice packs to joints or areas that feel inflamed or painful. This should be done on a regular basis if joint issues or inflammation are an ongoing problem.
4. Use compression after workouts. This is one thing that helps me the most after an intense workout. Experiment with various degrees of compression using compression socks/sleeves or making your own with pieces of material. The point here is to increase circulation through application of pressure.
In fact, if you generally find that standing causes your legs to hurt quickly, then using compression on your legs is essential. Even ADL’s like standing while doing the dishes or cooking is a great time to utilize compression on the legs.
Some compression garments sold in stores are not appropriate for everyone so it’s helpful to be creative and ‘customize’ where needed…
5. Take in a quality source of protein within 30-60 minutes after every workout. This will aid in muscle recovery and support of healthy metabolism. This can also lessen post exercise malaise and reduce sugar cravings.
L-Glutamine amino acid is also an essential after workouts to nourish muscle, reduce the buildup of lactic acid, and increase HGH. Please note that some protein powders such as the Original Plantfusion I recommend already have a sufficient amount of glutamine.
(For information on my favorite non-allergen protein, click on nutrition tips and go to the section:Nutrition Tips For Morning Meals.)
Pre and Post fibromyalgia exercise time is essential and time well spent. These suggestions can also be used at anytime, during flares, or just in everyday life while ‘living smarter’ with fibromyalgia and its related conditions.