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Just Do It - Right. A Fibromyalgia Patient Guide to Exercise

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By Author: Sharon R. Clark, Ph.D., FVP • www.ProHealth.com • April 1, 1997


Exercise is a crucial component for managing Fibromyalgia. There are many benefits to exercise. With exercise you can improve flexibility, endurance, strength, and the ratio of fat to muscle in your body.

How to Get Started and Know You Are Doing it Right

If you have someone available who understands Fibromyalgia and can assist you in designing an exercise program, use them. A knowledgeable person can help you learn to use different muscle groups, lightening the burden on more painful muscles.

After you have established a gentle stretching program, start an endurance program such as walking. Begin your walking program by increasing the amount of walking that you do in a day. Start by increasing by 3-5 minutes, then 5-7 minutes and then 7-10 minutes. Once you have increased by 10 minutes a day, start a second session at 3-5 minutes and repeat the increasing exercise times. Try to build up to three separate 10 minute walks per day, On bad days back off to fewer minutes, and do not try to make up for the lost time on your good days.

Minimize the Amount of Eccentric Work

One way to picture how to decrease eccentric work is by thinking of the hoop skirts that were worn years ago. The waist was the smallest part of the hoop and then the hoop became larger until the bottom. Now picture that you have the hoop's waist of the hoop at chin level.

Any activity with your arms needs to be done inside the hoop. To minimize the eccentric work of your lower body, you will need to take smaller steps when walking downhill and downstairs. Remind yourself to stay inside the hoop.

It is also important that you not continue to hold a muscle in a contraction. There are two pointers for this. First, take a break from any activity every 20 minutes. This may be as much as doing a different activity or as little as a two minute stretch break. Second, pause between repetitions of the same activity. For example, if you are putting several things into a cupboard, instead of a steady 1-2-3 activity, do a 1 slight pause, 2 slight pause, 3 slight pause, etc. Both of these will give working muscles a break.

Find your Center
If we support ourselves in the middle of our trunk, the upper and lower backs do not have to work so hard to compensate for our posture. In order to find your center:

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, both heels flat on the floor.

Gently rock forward. As you come forward, you will get a sensation of becoming "heavier" and a bit off balance.

Rock back, feet the point where you seem lighter and in balance. As you continue backward, you will notice that you become heavier and unbalanced.

Now rock forward to the point where you feet balanced. This is your center.

Try keeping your posture such that you stay in the centered position.

Check Your Posture
Be certain that you are centered. Now get those shoulders down.

Drop shoulders down and pretend you have a weight on the backside of your underarm.

Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will keep the shoulders down and back.

Once you have the shoulders down and back, release the tension of squeezing them together while maintaining the posture.

Keep your head over your trunk.

Goals with Exercise

Set your own personal goals and share them with someone else. Decide if you want to exercise alone or with someone else. Your goal with exercise will be to make progress, not perfection. You 'll have slips and slides, and it is important that they not lead to a crash.

Record keeping will help you know how you are progressing in your program. Remember to be gentle and treat yourself as you would a good friend.



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