Chronic Lyme Disease Summit 2

Get moving

But, you say, I can't get moving. It hurts to move, and I'm totally exhausted. Actually, it hurts you not to move. It hurts more, and you'll feel less energetic if you sit still or lie in bed all day. I'm not suggesting that you run a marathon, or do a workout at a gym, or walk five miles a day, or jog two miles. And absolutely no activity should be done without checking with your doctor first. But you must get up and move your body.

Cesar Millan, "The Dog Whisperer," says that dogs are meant to walk. He says, "Fish swim, birds fly, dogs walk." I like to add to that: "Humans walk." It's true! Humans were meant to walk and run. And so were dogs. Why did the dog and the human bond so well together? Because we walk together! We were not "designed" to sit in automobiles, at desk jobs, or in front of televisions or computers all day. 

Human beings are meant to move, and move we must. As far as fibromytes in particular are concerned, if you search any web site, or read any book on fibromyalgia, you will see again and again "exercise" under the treatment sections of those publications.

I've been at the stage where it hurt so badly to move, and exhausted me so much, that I could no longer exercise. In fact, I am still in the rehabilitation stage myself as of this writing. So, I'm here to tell you that moving the body will help relieve the pain and fatigue. 

But, it's a fine line we fibromyalgics walk. You have to move, yes, but you cannot move too much. If you are too active, you'll probably end up in a fibro-flare. And so, we are forced to modify our definition of "active."

Here is an example of my typical day. I wake up in widespread pain, and the first step I take out of the bed, I notice my feet hurt when I put my weight on them. I go to the bathroom if I have to, and then I pour myself a full glass of water (or a plastic pint-size bottle). If the weather is warm, I go outside barefoot. If it's cold, I put on a pair of slippers or other slip-on shoes. I go out my back door, which requires me to walk down ten steps into my back yard. My dogs follow, off-leash (our yard is fenced in securely). I stroll quietly and slowly around the perimeter of the yard, and drink my glass or bottle of water. I walk approximately five minutes. I may stop to scoop dog droppings, but other than that, I do nothing except walk slowly and drink water. I don't carry anything, and I don't swing my arms or do any other "warm up type" movements. The objective is to "get the kinks out."

Afterwards, if I feel that my pain is either relieved or low enough that I can do some more, I will harness up the dogs and take them for a short walk up and down the street. This may be anywhere from five minutes to thirty, depending on my energy level, my schedule, and my pain level. If I am up for a thirty-minute walk (I'm usually not) I will take the dogs around the block. Generally, our morning walk is just five-to-ten minutes. It is not vigorous exercise. If it turns into vigorous exercise, I will literally turn around, end the walk, and go back home. Vigorous exercise is most probably a no-no for any fibromyte, but a definite no-no for me at this time. Perhaps that will change in a year or two, who knows?

When I get home, I do not immediately sit down, even though I would like to. I continue to move. I started the routine of washing the dishes (by hand, we don't have a dishwasher) after my morning dog walk, and I continue this routine today. It give the dogs a chance to cool down before they eat breakfast, and it forces me to continue moving. It is important because this is my "cool down" period, just like you would do at a gym workout. Doing dishes by hand burns calories, and this was my original reason for adding this to my morning routine way back when I was attending Weight Watchers meetings. It's still part of my exercise routine today, but for a completely different reason. It gives my muscles a chance to continue moving, just enough so that they won't freeze up and cause a flare later in the day. I don't stand in one spot, I move my legs and feet while I'm washing so that my back doesn't go into a flare. When it's time to feed the dogs, after I've filled their bowls, I will sit on the deck outside or on the floor and do a few yoga stretches.

 And then I start my day.

 I'll have something small to eat. Because I work at home in the morning, I go into my study and logon to the computer, after pouring a cup of coffee.

 After an hour or so of computer work, I will take my shower and get ready to go to the office. In the late afternoon or early evening, when I return home from the office, I do the five-minute walk around the back yard with the dogs again. Then, time and weather permitting, I may take them for another five-to-ten minute walk. And this is the extent of my exercise.

 If I go away to the beach for a few days, we do more exercise, often having a thirty-to-forty minute walk, sometimes longer. Sometimes I will take both dogs on separate walks because it is less risk of injury, and thus pain. I also ride my bike. The reason I can fit in more exercise there is because I don't have to spend six hours at the office on those days, thus I have more energy.

 Mental fatigue is just as draining as physical fatigue. Therefore, you have to make time in your schedule for both mental exercise (if you work in an office like I do) and physical exercise.

 I find that the fine line is the hardest part. I've become well-versed in figuring out how much energy I have to spare each day, and how much I can use, and how much I have to keep in reserve. If you cross the fine line into an energy deficit, you can do so once in a while, but if this becomes habitual, it may be time to re-evaluate energy levels and come up with a different strategy and schedule.

 The other important thing to remember is to move slowly (remember my Tortoise and Hare analogy, and the miles-per-hour analogy from other pages on Fibro Works). The faster you move, the more energy you use up. Move slowly, and you'll conserve. Keep this in mind at all times, with every single activity you perform, no matter how miniscule. A couple days a week, I have to do housework. There are, of course, the things we have to do every day, but vacuuming (at least in my case) isn't one of them. Vacuuming for me is a huge expenditure of energy. I'm only 5 feet tall, so picking up and carrying a vacuum is hard work. I have a lot of stairs in my house. But still, vacuuming is another way to keep moving. And so, I schedule it in. On vacuuming day, I don't take the dogs for a longer walk. I may not take them for a walk at all, except for the back yard version.

 The same is true for grocery shopping. Again, for me, this is a big energy drainer. I often go to the grocery store every day or two because I can't handle doing a big, weekly "shop". I'd rather spend a couple minutes each day than an entire hour all at once. Remember, grocery shopping not only involves going to the store and loading up a cart, it also means unloading the cart into the back of the car, driving home, and then unloading the car, and putting everything away. Sometimes just the thought of doing all this is enough to make me stay home!

 I have to plan in advance to vacuum and grocery shop. It's not something I can just up and do anymore without a lot of planning and adjustment. This was a very big change for me, because I used to do it all and think nothing of it. It was very humbling to realize that my body would simply not permit me to "do it all" anymore. I've never been an athlete, or an athletic type, so I have no personal experience with this. I used to walk five miles a day or more, and I would often ride my bike to work and back (eight miles round-trip, with enormous hills). And I can say that once fibromyalgia became my constant companion, I was no longer able to do either one. This has been humbling for me as well, but I imagine an athlete or an athletic woman would have great difficulty getting her arms around this reality. It would be heartbreaking at first, but modifying the way we do things, and the intensity level, may open up a new chapter in your life, a new way of thinking and approaching exercise which will help you towards rehabilitation from fibromyalgia.

 There is no cure, but there is rehabilitation if we can learn to modify our energy expenditure and intensity of activity.

Comments

  1. hello! I'm popping in from the a-z Challenge, and I suspect I have fibro too. I'm in the process of being tested. Do you know anything about essential oils helping fibro? There are many that help with inflammation, but I'm just starting to wade through that process, seeing in anything works. Are you familiar with do terra oils? Drop me a line: ballpark001@gmail.com

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