Ask any fibromyalgia sufferer and they’ll tell you that most days they feel at least some dull pain and probably a good deal of joint stiffness.
Other days the pain runs the gamut from mild to incredibly invasive and, despite sleeping 8 hours a night, the typical person with fibromyalgia is most likely incredibly exhausted.
While there are many different treatment options, one of the best remains regular exercise.
The problem with this treatment option is that most people with fibromyalgia find the average exercise regimen far too strenuous, and this usually exacerbates the pain instead of strengthening the muscles.
A good alternative to this is the ever popular option of yoga.
Again, if you suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome (or FMS), the very idea of starting any type of exercise regimen becomes particularly daunting.
Even yoga can have its adverse effects and the most common complaint is that the typical routine does not accommodate for someone with FMS.
The best piece of advice is that no one knows your own body like you do. After years of health complications, you’ve more than likely learnt how to tell which days are the good ones and which days you’ll struggle to even get out of bed.
This is why it’s probably best to begin your yoga routine by tailor-making it for yourself. Instead of the usual hour long session at the local gym, you might want to take five to ten minutes each day just to do a few yoga stretches that will ease you into the whole process.
A few stretches each day will be far more beneficial to you than an hour once a week.
Despite it seeming like such a short period of time, ten minutes a day will give you the perfect opportunity to strengthen some of those problem muscles and stretch out some of your aches and pains.
Just remember to dress in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and to start out slow. You’ll also want to practice yoga on an empty stomach – but make sure to keep yourself well hydrated.
1. Begin your routine seated, with your legs crossed and your eyes closed. Elongate your spine as if someone is pulling you up by a string, and then take deep, slow breaths. You’ll want to feel the air fill your lungs to capacity, hold it for a beat, and then exhale.
Do this ten times, before opening your eyes and finding a spot on the wall to focus on. As you focus on the spot, try and empty your head of thoughts. You want to clear your mind as much as possible before you begin.
2. For your first pose, lower your weight onto your hands and extend your body forward. Arc your back upwards and feel the stretch through all of your vertebrae. Don’t overdo it to begin with, but with practice, this stretch is a fantastic means of relieving tension in your lower back.
3. For your second pose, transition into the well-known Downward Dog. Try raising your hips from the ground into an upside-down “v” shape, while walking your hands backwards to give yourself support. You want to maintain as straight a spine as possible, all the while not forgetting to breathe.
If your back is particularly weak and you find this pose challenging, try doing it facing a wall against which you can press your hands to gain stability.
This pose is known to help for back ache, stiffness and fatigue. It’s also good for increasing upper arm strength and maintaining your bone density.
4. Next, move into Extended Triangle Pose. You’ll want to stand up straight before extending your left foot a comfortable distance.
Slowly lower your left hand to meet the corresponding foot and grip your ankle, while extending your right hand as high above you as possible.
Try and really pull your body into the triangle shape, and stretch out those shoulder blades. This should help ease any tension you have in your upper back. Hold for a minute before trying the pose on your right side.
5. After this, we really want to start working on your lower back pain. The best position for this is the Simple Seated Twist.
Sitting with your legs crossed underneath you, take your left hand and grip your right knee. Pressing gently on your knee, twist your left shoulder blade towards your right knee.
Hold for a minute while taking slow, deep breaths. Repeat for the other side of your body.
Only move as far as is comfortable for your spine to go; you don’t want to strain your back. This exercise can be tricky for those with fibromyalgia, but it does strengthen some key muscles in your lower back.
If you struggle with the pose, start off by doing it seated on a chair with your legs at a ninety degree angle. This should eliminate some of the strain.
6. As a final position, try Child’s Pose. For this one, kneel with your feet together, but allow your knees to open up a little. Now lay your torso on top of your knees while exhaling.
Elongate your tailbone away from your pelvis and stretch the base of your skull away from your neck.
Your hands should be on the floor, next to your feet with your palms facing upwards. Try and feel the weight of your shoulder blades as the open up and really try to fill your chest cavity with every inhalation.
When you’ve finished your routine, sit up slowly and take some extra time to breathe before returning to your other activities.
The number one rule of yoga is always remember your breathing, so keep conscious of your body’s airflow at all times. This will also help you to relax.
If some of these poses do not work for you, feel free to omit them from your routine; you should be able to tell what your body can and cannot do on a given day.
Always be willing to push yourself a little extra and you’ll reap the rewards of a decrease in pain, stiffness, fatigue and stress.