Strength Training and Fibromyalgia
If you have fibromyalgia, the idea of any type of exercise may make you want shrivel up in despair. True, exercise can be painful, especially on those tender muscles and joints, but exercise is actually one of the most beneficial treatments for fibromyalgia symptoms. Exercise of any type has been proven to help lessen your pain, strengthen your muscles, and make your daily life a little bit easier. Strength training in particular has been receiving a lot of attention from fibromyalgia sufferers. If you are suffering from fibromyalgia pain, learn more about strength training and how it could help to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is a type of exercise that involves using your muscles to lift extra pounds. Over time, you lift increased amounts of weight in order to develop your strength and endurance. Strength training is typically done with free weights (like barbells and dumbbells) or on strength training equipment designed to target specific areas of the body. However, more and more strength trainers are using stretchy resistance bands to increase their muscle strength. Strength training without weights is also popular. Just use the resistance of your own body.
Strength training targets all the major areas of the body, including the arms, legs, abdominals, back, shoulders, and chest. There are specific strength training programs and exercises designed to work out particular muscles in these body parts, and they are usually done in sets, ranging from 8 to 12 repetitions for each set. In between sets, a rest is taken in order to allow the muscles to recuperate.
Strength Training vs Weight Training
When we envision strength training, many of us picture men and women with rippling muscles lifting huge barbells. This is not the type of strength training that is advised for people with fibromyalgia. Instead, strength training for fibromyalgia sufferers is focused on developing increased strength, endurance, and muscle tone throughout the body – not those huge, bursting muscles. Fibromyalgia sufferers who wish to strength train should not be concerned with the amount of weight they can lift, but rather that they lift small amounts of weight regularly and correctly.
Benefits of Strength Training for Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Strength training is highly recommended for fibromyalgia sufferers because of the wide variety of benefits it can offer. Recent studies performed by Harvard University have shown that a progressive regimen of strength training helps to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Specifically, weight training helps to increase muscle strength and muscle mass, however, benefits of strength training also include:
- Strength training helps to reduce muscle pain and stiffness by encouraging daily use of all body parts.
- This type of training helps to improve your overall fitness level, increasing your energy and reducing your fatigue.
- Strength training has been shown to improve sleep habits, allowing you to fall asleep faster and remain in deep sleep longer.
- exercise of any type can help to improve your mood and alleviate symptoms of depression.
Strength training can also provide a number of other important benefits, like increasing your metabolism by up to 15% and reducing your risk of osteoporosis, a debilitating bone illness.
How to Strength Train
The good thing about strength training is that it is safe and effective for practically anyone. Even if you are not in the greatest of health, you can still begin a moderate strength training routine and see amazing benefits. Strength training is most beneficial when combined with both a stretching and aerobics routine. However, strength training on its own will also help to reduce your symptoms.
Before Starting Strength Training:
Before you start your strength training, consult with a health care professional to see if your muscles are up to it. Once your health care provider gives you the go ahead, you will need to find out about the specific exercises performed in strength training routines. Instructions and tips on strength training are available at your nearest gym or in exercise books and manuals at the library. If you can afford it, you might want to hire a professional trainer who can show you the techniques as well as any equipment you might like to use. Before working out for the first time, practice the techniques in front of a mirror, without using any weights. This will help you get a feel for the movements.
While Strength Training:
When you first start strength training, remember to start with the smallest weight, or just use the weight of your own body - you do not want to overstress your body on the first time out. Don’t focus on lifting a lot of weight; instead, focus on performing the techniques correctly, ensuring that you maintain good posture. Remember to breathe - breathe in as you lengthen your muscles, and breathe out as you contract your muscles. Start with only 3 to 5 repetitions of each exercise, fewer if you feel tired. Gradually increase the number of repetitions, until you can perform 10 to 12 repetitions. Try to do 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions before increasing your weight. Remember to rest in between sets
Tips to Stay Healthy During Strength Training
When done properly, strength training can be very beneficial to fibromyalgia sufferers. This type of exercise can increase flexibility, endurance, and make everyday tasks like shopping and climbing stairs a lot easier. Here are some tips on how to keep your strength training safe and enjoyable:
- Always do some light stretching before you strength train. This will prevent muscle strains and sprains and get your muscles warmed up.
- Drink water as you strength train. Water keeps you well hydrated, preventing muscle cramps.
- Avoid using weights or machines that you have to grip tightly. This could put extra stress on your muscles and joints.
- Always progress slowly. Start out doing just a few minutes of strength training exercises. Gradually work up to 20 minutes, three times a week.