Learning & Resource Center Articles
Easy Exercises to Help with Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM
Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder comprised of many different symptoms. While the hallmark symptom is unrelenting, widespread body pain, especially affecting the muscles and soft tissues, there is an extensive list of potential physical, mental and emotional ones. Therefore, the following list is a partial one.
- Chronic muscle pain, spasms and cramping
- Inability to feel refreshed after a night's sleep
- Abdominal pain and cramping
Fortunately, there are easy exercises almost anyone can perform to help ease some of these symptoms. In general, low-impact aerobic activity can help strengthen the body, which may relieve chronic muscle and body pain. Activities can include walking, biking, swimming and yoga. If you have access to a pool, especially a warm water one, this is an excellent way to get started with a new exercise regime.
According to the art of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, pain is often described as a cold condition. To understand why some pain is labeled as cold, imagine immersing yourself in a tub of frigid water. Doing so restricts and slows the blood flow, thereby depriving the body of warmth and impeding the healing agents normally provided by a healthy blood circulation system. This, in turn, causes pain and stiffness.
You may want to consider starting your day by warming your muscles while in a warm shower or soaking in the bathtub. This may be particularly helpful if you wake with morning stiffness. This symptom of fibromyalgia can make the first 15 to 30 minutes after getting out of bed painful until the muscles finally loosen up.
If you are just beginning a new exercise program, set realistic goals on what you wish to accomplish. This means allowing yourself to start slowly, and then increase activity over time. For example, it may be prudent to begin every morning with a 5-minute walk for a week, then build up to 10 minutes the following week. These may seem like very small steps to be taking--literally and figuratively--but for a sufferer of fibromyalgia with the symptom of fatigue and extreme muscle soreness, this may present a full workout.
According to the art of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, one of the many potential diagnoses for a patient with symptoms of fibromyalgia would be called qi deficiency. Qi is considered to be the most basic, fundamental substance needed for all life functions. The condition of Qi deficiency can manifest differently in each person, but very often the spleen is affected and requires treatment. This means that one of the spleen's primary functions, the ability to transform food into nutrients and then transport it to the rest of the body, is impaired. This will deprive the body of vital substances and can cause many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
At the time of your appointment, you may want to discuss other exercise options such as tai chi or Qi gong. Both of these ancient Chinese practices focus on using fluid, physical movements in coordination with the breath. It is believed these practices can improve blood and Qi circulation throughout the body. Not only can these help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia, it may also improve mental clarity and help ease emotional tensions.
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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.