About 2% of the population in the United States has a condition known as fibromyalgia. It affects more women than men and the risk of getting it increases with age. People who have fibromyalgia feel pain in their muscles, tendons and ligaments. They have tender points where, when pressure is applied, they feel additional pain. Sleep patterns are also disturbed, with a lack of sleep causing exhaustion throughout the day.
Many people with fibromyalgia are often misdiagnosed. Once they get a true diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe drugs, physical therapy, exercise, stress reduction or counseling.
One of my clients, a nurse with fibromyalgia, swears by enough sleep(made possible by sleep medication) and exercise. She’s also a weekend artist, which I’m sure helps reduce her stress level.
Another client with fibro got significant relief from a workout of light cardio, resistance training and stretching. If she gets a flare-up in the middle of the night, she gets up and does a set of walking lunges to relieve the pain.
People with fibro should find a trainer who has some knowledge of this condition. The trainer should start the client out with a light exercise load….say a warm-up of walking, followed by gentle stretching and can try some very light weight training. The session should end with stretching the client can tolerate. The intensity of such a workout may increase over time, with extra cardio alternating with the workout days.
A person with fibro knows where his or her “hot points” are and should communicate any painful exercises to the trainer. These exercises can be avoided, modified or worked through, if tolerable.
Swimming, biking, qi gong, tai chi, massage and hot and cold packs are also helpful to many.
I have had great success with my clients with fibromyalgia, though I train each one differently according to their needs. With some, we will avoid too-painful exercises altogether, but still complete a full cardio, strength and stretching workout. with others, I may do weights and stretching one day and on another day, if they’re experiencing a flare-up, just do gentle yoga. The important thing is to be consistent in the amount of exercise you do.
If you have fibromyalgia there’s no reason to give up exercise. In fact, that’s the worst thing you could do!
Sibyl Adams works full-time as a personal fitness trainer, is president of her own company, A Personal Touch Fitness and is the featured fitness blogger for Seniority Matters.com. Contact Sibyl at 786-395-1588 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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