Fibromyalgia and Me

Fibromyalgia and Me – Exercise

How have you found exercise since having fibromyalgia?

For me, in all honesty, it was initially terrible, but equally it could have been much MUCH worse. I think it all depends on where you have come from, what exercise you did before, and how much you compare your current self to your new self.

My fibromyalgia onset was pretty quick, in fact, just a few months before becoming too unwell to work I had just completed my 6th running race in 6 months. I was taking part in a personal challenge to complete 12 races in 12 months for charity, in memory of my younger brother who passed away from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and would have been 24 last year. It still pains me to this day that I was never able to complete the challenge, but in the first 6 months of 2016 I ran two 10K races, one 10 mile race, two half marathons, and one full marathon.

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From June onwards it all went a bit/very downhill, I severely injured my achilles tendon which took AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGEEEESSSS to heal, and then I rapidly developed symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Come November I was off work sick barely able to move. You can visit this post for more about my journey towards diagnosis.

It took me a long while to pluck up the courage to exercise again, and a lot of input from my physiotherapist. At first I was incredibly frustrated, and even attempted to go for a run one day (which didn’t end well), but over time I learnt to forgive my broken body and to just let it recover somewhat. I also needed to give myself time to work out exactly what it was I needed to do just to be able to get through my day and function like a normal human being which took me about 4 months (and damn lot of hard work) following diagnosis. Returning to work was also far more important than gaining medals.

One thing I made sure I always did when trying to work all of this out, was to just keep moving. However slowly I moved, I always moved forwards. Initially it was just doing the school runs, then it progressed to the after school clubs. I then moved onto more gentle exercises, mostly stretching and physiotherapy, which felt wonderful for my broken body. Eventually when my symptoms were a little more ‘controlled’ I started going out for longer walks, and before long I was able to go out and walk a good 4 miles. I’d be wrecked that evening and possibly the next day but I did it and that sense of achievement was almost as satisfying as crossing the finishing line of a race (although what a feeling that is!).

Another (and possibly more important) factor is learning not to compare. At diagnosis I was constantly yearning for that woman who could just go out and run 10 miles and actually feel good afterwards. I missed the way my body used to feel and the way my clothes fit. I missed the glory of picking up a medals after months of training and doing it all in memory of my brother, raising worthwhile money for charity.

Today, I no longer compare. I no longer yearn. I do however still remain optimistic that I WILL run again, but only when I am ready, and only what I can manage.

What I am now able to do is get on with my day and cover most distance by foot. I cover a distance of at least 6 miles evenly across my day and it actually makes me feel better. In fact if I don’t cover this distance my evenings are absolutely terrible. I feel proud that despite what is technically a disability, I am active and I am doing all I can to benefit all aspects of my long term health.

This doesn’t mean I am now going to sit back and be 100% content with this equilibrium. For those who know me, they will know that running is in my blood and I’m not sure that I will ever be fully content if I don’t ever run again. It a big goal, but I don’t feel it completely unrealistic. Just one year ago, doing the school run alone was hell on earth, and it now doesn’t even cross my mind that it will be difficult, most days.

So what’s next? For me I am looking to work on my strength and flexibility, so I am looking to seriously get into yoga. I’d like to spend a few months working on doing some daily yoga, at home, to increase my core stability, and my overall strength. Why? Well, as I think you have gathered by now, I really want to run again, and building up this strength and power will help with that, not to mention the stretching element will benefit my joint pain immensely.

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This is where I need your help. I am looking for a seriously good at home yoga workout. This can be on DVD or on You Tube, or wherever you know there is a really good programme for beginners. I really do not have the time or the energy to go after work, and so the mornings are key to fitting this into my routine. Recommendations are highly appreciated.

I would also really love to hear from you about what exercise works for you and your chronic illness. Are there any runners out there with fibromyalgia? If so I would really love to hear from you. Anyone recommend anything else that works well as exercise with fibromyalgia? Please do get in touch by either leaving a comment below or visiting one on my social media platforms. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Toodle Pip!

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20 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia and Me – Exercise

  1. First, I’m terribly sorry for your loss.💞

    And second I’m not a runner. But I have had FM for at least 13 years. I walked for exercise. I would average about 15 miles a week. Six of those were beach walks on the weekend, which is a little more intense barefoot in the sand. Since coming down with CFS I’m no longer able to walk like I did but I do try to take a 10 minute walk each day, if I don’t The FM pain shoots through the roof. Hoping you are able to run again! I know how it feels to miss exercising. I’d give so much to be able walk like I once did. Hoping your day is best as posdible🌸

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your yoga advice! I’m sorry you are no longer able to walk like you used to, but it sounds like you still do incredibly well. Getting outside into daylight and fresh air is so important in managing chronic illness, don’t you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My day has been lovely. A typical Sunday (they tend to be my worst fibro wise as I’m pretty active the rest of the week) and have been relaxing with the children, carving pumpkins and generally being happy. Hope your Sunday is a good one too x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you seen Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube? She has a couple of collections of videos called Yoga Camp, which are thirty videos designed as an introduction to yoga. It might be just what you’re after 🙂 I can’t exercise like I used to, the dynamic moves I used to throw myself into now really upset my hips and back. I’m the same as you, just try to keep moving and getting as much walking in as possible 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The yoga on you tube sounds like a good place to start, may check it out tomorrow morning and start the new routine. Sounds like you work really hard to keep yourself moving 🙂 and each step forward is a great step!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sarah, Great to find someone blogging about exercise when having a pain condition. This can be very off putting (being in pain) Yes I agree we have got to keep moving or we seize up! I enjoy exercise in warm water and some gentle walking

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    1. I really wish that I had more time for swimming. Working Monday to Friday 10-6 not not leave much room for anything else, and by the time I get home at 7 my pain and fatigue is off the scale! Hence trying to find something at home in the mornings. Walking is fine, as I do this to get myself to and from work and in my lunch break. But anything else will need to be down early before the kids eat up and the morning routine and school run commences! Nice to hear you like walking like me 🙂

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  4. You are the embodiment of “fitness.”

    As a soft tissue specialist, movement analyst and performance coach who runs his own clinic, I commend your honesty and subject matter.

    I don’t often say this to many people and am not the type of person to usually comment. Spoken from the heart and you have my respect.

    I have a recent post you may enjoy called “I used to be a body builder, before I grew up,” it’s a 6000 word spiel, but it deals more with the clinical element of soft tissue principality, biotensegrity and psychology rather than the generic outlook of “fitness.”

    Give it a read some time if you are ever free. If you like it, if you agree with it, then let’s work on some online ideas together? I have a platform through my clinic and I’m looking for more people’s stories to be able to share for motivation, to help others.

    Any help I can give on Fibromyalgia and movement, just let me know.

    If not…then take care and keep doing you!

    From reading the comments on this feed you are obviously inspiring people, which inspires me!

    Lee

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! Exercise has been key to me feeling more capable in my recovery – pretty much any movement feels better. I have really enjoyed Cole Chance’s YogaTx youtube videos because they are easy to keep up with and focus more on deep stretching. All the best ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As somebody who has worked hard to return to a quarter of their past fitness, i really appreciate this post. People don’t understand how complex and frustrating fibromyalgia can be; i also was running a lot when my symptoms began, and it stopped me in my tracks as i felt as though i was forced to choose between working a shift, or exercising. It killed my energy, and really did a number on both my motivation, and my self-image.

    I personally also found it very helpful to start with yoga and physical therapy, and to VERY slowly, under instruction, move onto HITT. The instructor is fantastic and has helped me with weak joints/joint pain, joint hypermobility, etc.

    I think a big part of it is radically accepting where your new baseline is, and trying your best to keep your dedication up where it was.

    Thank you for being so open about this – the effects of FM can be devestating, and yet are so rarely talked about. ❤

    I hope you're well!

    Liked by 1 person

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