Since last November, I have been working with a client who has fibromyalgia. I had some experience helping people work through this condition in the past, but this was my first long-term client with the disease.
The CDC defines fibromyalgia as is a condition that causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and emotional and mental distress. Previous to working with me, she had started taking Plexus supplements which helped tremendously but felt like something was missing. She decided to reach out to me to start a strength training program.
When creating a program for someone with fibromyalgia, you must consider these basic principles:
1. Start with no weight. Literally. Go through range of motion exercises without weight.
2. Assess balance and flexibility. Be creative in introducing balance exercises.
3. Add weight 1-3 lbs at a time to exercises.
4. Start with one set of 6-10 reps. Increase every 2-4 weeks.
5. Never do an exercise to fatigue. I use the 70-80% rule.
6. Do not completely enter into full extension (locking knees, elbows, etc) with any exercise.
7. Rest between sets. I rarely use supersets.
During our 10 months together, she told me that she feels stronger, sleeps much better, experiences less pain and enjoys exercise more than she had previously. Originally, I had also encouraged her to get a step counter and to start at 4,000 steps per day. That might seem minimal, but with chronic pain, too much too soon can make symptoms worse. She is now regularly walking over 8,000 steps per day!!
If you know anyone who suffers from chronic pain, please encourage them to consider researching the benefits of exercise. Chronic pain can cripple their motivation and subtle suggestions can help if they are fed up with their disease. If you have any questions about developing a program that suits someone with fibromyalgia, please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a culture full of sitters - at work, in the car, on the couch, at a restaurant, etc. With excessive sitting comes aches and pains that can lead you straight into the doctor or chiropractors office. I have wonderful friends who work in both fields and have learned from them and my own experiences with injury over the last decade. We don't move or stretch enough, plain and simple. If you could be pain free by simply spending five minutes of your day devoted to pain relief, would you do it?
Try doing this once in the morning and once before you sleep:
1. Floor Bridge - laying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground, lift your hips and glutes off of the floor, squeeze your bum for 2 seconds and lower back to the floor. Repeat 20 times.
2. Standing Knee Hug - In a standing position, grab one knee with both hands over the kneecap, pull for one second and alternate to the other knee. Repeat 20 times.
3. Standing Quad Stretch - Standing, reach back with one hand to grab the top of your foot and reach into the air with the opposite arm, pull and alternate. Repeat 20 times.
4. Standing Leg Cradle - Standing, place one hand on the outside of one ankle and the other hand on the outside of the same knee and pull your shin up to your chest in a position where the shin is paralell to your chest. Pull for one second and alternate to the opposite leg. Repeat 20 times.
I do these exercises everyday before I workout, which mostly consists of running. Since taking up this dynamic warmup prior to running, training for my fifth marathon has felt much easier than the previous ones. You see, I spend about 3 hours everyday commuting between my clients' homes and that makes for tight hip flexors and a sore back when it comes time to do my own workout.
If you have chronic aches and pains, give this a try. Of course, it could be much more serious than a bunch of tight, weak muscles so use discretion when it comes to contacting a doctor about your condition.