Studies repeatedly show that exercise improves the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia. Discussing exercise with fibromyalgia sufferers often paints a different picture however.
Why is this and what is the best exercise for fibromyalgia?
There are two things to initially consider when answering this question; the exercise and the person.
I have read many different studies on the ‘best’ type of exercise for fibromyalgia sufferers. Yoga is frequently mentioned as is Pilates. Some people have found more endurance based pursuits such as walking to be more beneficial however.
When assessing exercise we have to take a step back and see it for what it is. Exercise is just a series of movements performed for specific amounts of time. There is no magic in one form of movement over another, no matter how they are marketed.
The most important thing in terms of the benefit to the user with fibromyalgia is does the exercise improve your symptoms? If so what components of it seem to be important and how can they be safely progressed to have a long standing impact on your life?
This is where most approaches fall short and where the second variable in the exercise equation becomes so important, the individual. Why for example can Yoga improve one person’s symptoms and for another person the same class will send them into a flare?
What is the difference and how can we predict these outcomes before they occur?
Every individual’s muscular system has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses largely based on how forces have been applied to their bodies in their lifetime thus far. Therefore everybody’s tolerance to particular movements will be different. This is true for both relatively healthy members of the public and fibromyalgia sufferers alike.
The key to understanding whether a particular exercise will benefit you is to know where your weaknesses are and to know how much force those weaknesses will tolerate to prevent flares.
There is no mystery to this, it just requires a thorough assessment of your muscular system and an understanding of how forces are applied to your body during exercise.
From this an exercise programme can be developed to safely progress you away from your current limitations towards a stronger, healthier future.