Have you ever suffered a migraine? Or dealt with a headache where it feels like someone's playing the drums inside your head? Or even sunburn, the kind that makes wearing clothes a horror because of the pain? Fibromyalgia pain is all of this x100. So, one can imagine the reaction when a fibromyalgia warrior is told to lift weights!
But as heartless as that may sound, weight training is one of the few exercises recommended for people - especially women - with fibromyalgia, and the reasons are aplenty.
Why strength training for fibromyalgia
Muscle weakness due to a combination of high-intensity pain, and resultant inactivity is a common complaint for individuals with fibromyalgia. Moreover, the constant state of pain and fatigue has a psychological impact - you feel your body is owned by fibromyalgia rather than you.
Strength training helps build muscle strength at the neurological and muscular levels, wherein the brain pushes muscles into activity and strengthens the fibres. In simple language, strength training forces your brain to send 'get strong' signals to your muscles to make them stronger. While the 'muscle' is not visible immediately (that's for Popeye alone!), one starts to feel stronger and more confident.
There's no denying strength training adds to the existing pain. But it also works as a reminder of the body's ability to repair-recover and is a reminder of one's physical and mental resilience.
The pros of strength training for fibromyalgia
Strength training, if done right and under the guidance of a well-trained teacher, can work like a painkiller and dopamine for fibromyalgia warriors.
- Stronger muscles mean increased ability to tackle daily work and also bump up work intensity
- Increased pain threshold
- Production of post-workout feel-good chemicals
- Less stress and better anxiety management
- Regular strength training makes the joints less creaky, thereby making movement easier
- Flexible limbs
- Improved heart health and better body functions
- Better fitness levels
- Less fatigue
- Increased chances of restorative sleep
- Regaining ownership of one's body which also means increased confidence
- A feeling of achievement
Cautionary notes for fibromyalgia warriors
- Start with supervised training under a qualified physiotherapist or professional who understands fibromyalgia and knows the level of resistance required.
- The initial days might be a blur of excessive pain and fatigue, but stay strong and adjust the routines till you find a level that suits you.
- Start off gently, and add up slowly.
- Take a break if the pain is unnaturally intense. Remember, you will be in pain because of fibromyalgia, but stop if the pain is beyond tolerance or unnatural.
- Short sessions may work better than long sessions, so set your own pace.
- Remember to warm up and cool down.
- Use heat packs, warm showers, and ice packs to loosen up the joints and muscles.
- Gently massaging oil may also help – we recommend LEMONGRASS or MORINGA oil for pre and post session. Lemongrass blend has a higher portion of Moringa oil which is great for soothing sore muscles and is a natural anti-inflammatory
- Take a soak! A 10 to 20 minute foot or body soak in Epsom salts post work out session really help to heal sore muscle pains. Do this once a week. Try our RELIEF or SLEEP soaking salts.
- Listen to your body. ALWAYS!
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain in the bones and muscles. The medical community finds the condition difficult to diagnose due to its similarity with other chronic pain illnesses like osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. The difference between these conditions and fibromyalgia is in the areas of pain – in the former, you are racked with pain in specific areas, but in fibromyalgia, the pain is widespread. That's why diagnosis is made by the process of elimination. Here's an interesting fact: records show over 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women.
DISCLAIMER: All opinions and suggestions shared are from our Founder’s detailed research and experiences in managing symptoms in her own battle with fibromyalgia
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