Although it’s often the last thing we might feel like doing with a chronic pain condition, movement can be one of the best treatments.
How to make friends with movement?
If you don’t have an exercise routine then creating one might sound daunting. Or maybe you were really active and can’t do the sports or activities that you used to do.
Either way we need a stepping stone to take you from the sofa, back to active.
What do we want to achieve with movement? …and how can it be accomplished when you have fibromyalgia?
We want to achieve:
Clearing the fascia of stagnant fluids – because the fascia is responsible for a lot of the wet-suit feeling and strange wandering pains.
Calming movements that keep stress levels down – because our body-mind system is already on high Alert!
(If you have read my book you will already know about the chemistry of central-sensitisation).
New movements to create new brain pathways – using neuro-plasicity to help break pain-prediction patterns.
How can we do all of this?
We can choose small amounts of new movement. Think of these as ‘movement snacks’. We can do little bits of something – rather than think of having to do an hour or something. (It is a completely arbitrary idea that exercise happens in one hour sessions!)
Fibromyalgia has an effect on your muscles so that they get tired more quickly, so short sessions are going to be better for you.
Exercise becomes much more friendly when its just 5 minutes of something. Here are some ideas:
Do one yoga pose. Restorative yoga is good as a reference (look it up on Youtube). You can learn how to get into a yoga pose and relax for a minute or so in the pose. You can use props and blankets to make it comfortable. Yin Yoga is also slow and relaxing.
Walk up five stairs very slowly, as if you are a ballerina. Move with slow deliberate movements and hold yourself in good posture as you do so.
Look up Qi Gong on Youtube and follow a slow session for a few minutes. (Qi Gong is much easier to learn than Tai Chi.). Qi Gong are slow graceful movements. Each movement is repeated a few times, so you can easily follow along with what the teacher is showing you.
Turn your movement snacks into movement ‘sessions’ using music to measure your time.
You could just pick a movement class online to follow along with for a few minutes.
Or if you are doing your own exercises you can download the Insight Timer app, it’s free. You can set up a timed session, with some peaceful music, with a gong to begin and end your session. It gives it a regular pattern and defined beginning and end. You could also do this with a favourite music track too.
If you choose to do three movement snacks a day, for five minutes each time, you will achieve one hour and 45 minutes of exercise each week, which is a really good achievement!
Even three minutes, three times a day, will give you just over an hour of exercise a week. This could be so much better for you (and more achievable) than just trying to do one exercise class each week.
If you prefer to do one session a day, you could choose to aim for eight to ten minutes, once a day.
Schedule your sessions so they practically fit into your day. You could do a 5 minute movement snack before each meal, so they can easily become part of your day. Set reminders on your phone to get you started.
Insight timer instructions: on the home page find and click the world icon on the bottom left. In the world page choose ‘timer’ at the top left. Here you can choose how long you want, if you want ‘interval bells’, a music option and an ending bell/gong. To save your session, set up your options, then click the three dots to the right of the ‘start’ button for the save option.
The Insight Timer will also automatically measure the time you use the app, so you can see how many minutes and hours you have been exercising which is good encouragement.
I like using the Insight Timer as for me it feels like a special time. The bells starting and ending my session gives me a sense of accomplishment. By setting a time I am setting a goal. Even if I end up doing the same amount of exercise if I just start doing some exercise without a goal I don’t feel I have achieved so much!
Setting a goal and achieving it is really good for you! It will restore your confidence.
The timer also has lots of free meditations and mindfulness courses to listen to.