I have had a confirmed case of Fibromyalgia for 20 years. I have been in what I would consider to be remission for 6 of those years. Exercise and movement in general have played a huge role in my getting to this point and staying here.
From the beginning I made a commitment to treating my symptoms naturally which meant educating myself on every possible way of doing that. Exercise was a perfect first step because I was a multi-sport athlete, competitive gymnast and ballerina prior to being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my early teens.
My curiosity about how to exercise intelligently with Fibromyalgia started well before I received any formal fitness education. Every doctor I have ever talked to about Fibromyalgia (and there have been many!) has agreed that movement has a positive impact on many, if not all, of the varied symptoms we deal with. In honor of that I want to give my top ten tips for navigating the fitness maze with Fibromyalgia:
1. Get curious
2. See your sensitive system as a gift
3. Start small
4. Be process focused instead of goal oriented
5. Choose opportunities to educate yourself about exercise in general and how your system responds to it
6. Know what you like and what you don’t like – the best exercise is the exercise you will DO!
7. Focus on movements that increase both mobility and stability in the joints while in motion and avoid holding any one position for very long
8. Whatever exercise you do, you should be able to recover from it within a few hours or at the longest 24 hours
9. Think of movement as a gift you are giving your body to keep it happy and healthy instead of something you must do as a chore or in order to force your body into weight loss or other aesthetic goals (you might achieve these along the way with more ease than you can imagine!)
10, Be in the moment while moving and in your body – increasing your body awareness and getting in tune with all of the amazing clues and signals your body gives you is the key to enjoying movement again!
After over a decade of helping myself and my one on one clients in NYC manage their chronic pain through movement, it is time for me to share that knowledge forward in a bigger way with the Fibromyalgia community! With that in mind I created a one year online workout education course called Zero to Hero. This program brings all of the above tips into play and most importantly it helps you gain the knowledge of how your joints and muscles work and respond to movement in general so that you complete the program better able to apply your knowledge throughout your life. This might mean easing back into whatever you loved to do for exercise prior to your diagnosis but this time with a better idea of how to warm-up and of the signals your body gives you in advance of over doing it.
The better we know our bodies and the physiological warning signs the better we can make the best choices for us! As we get in the habit of making those choices and get more confident in our skills, everything seems to get better. It may have taken me almost 15 years but I have been able to get back to being an athlete. It just looks differently than it did before and I have to be much smarter about warming up, my recovery, nutrition and sleep. Maybe for you it isn’t about sports or even about fitness, maybe it is about being able to sightsee with your family on vacation or not being the one on the sidelines holding the coats on an active outing with friends. It may take more time than you can wrap your head around, but I do believe developing your own personal movement plan is absolutely possible and an excellent use of your time and very limited energy.