Goals can be set by anyone and often are by the way of New Year’s Resolutions. Having fibromyalgia doesn’t have to mean you can’t set them, even for some fitness levels. Fitness goals are definitely harder to reach when you have this disease but not always impossible. Unless your doctor tells you not to do something, mild exercise and stretching is better than just setting or laying around. (This is a reminder to myself as well as to you)
A beginning goal could be to stretch for five minutes a day without wanting to curl up in pain. TAKE IT EASY! Overdoing a stretch is as bad as trying to walk a mile the first time out. Fibromyalgia muscles are very resistant to movement and WILL let you know quickly if you overdo (just like mine did this morning – OUCH!!).
Some mild calf stretches can be done by placing one heel on a step with that leg bent and toes pointing up. Reach down and take the toes in your hand and place the other hand on the leg that is on the floor. Be sure to keep your back straight. Pull your toes toward your bent knee until you feel a mild stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with other leg.
A good hamstring stretch is to lay on the floor, or in bed, with one leg straight and the other bent towards your chest. Grasp the bent leg by the calf, if you can reach that far, if you can’t the grasp as far up the leg as you can. Pull that leg as close to your chest until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Quadriceps stretching can be a bit more difficult because it can be hard to balance on one leg. Bend one leg up and grasp the ankle. Gently pull the foot towards your butt until you feel the stretch in the front of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with other leg. Be sure not to arch your back to avoid strain on the lower back. This exercise can also be done while holding on to something (my favorite) or by lying on the floor.
Shoulder stretches can be done by placing one hand on the opposite shoulder and then gently pulling that elbow with the other hand until you feel the stretch.
Arm stretches can be done by lacing your fingers together with palms facing out. Extend the arms out at shoulder height and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat.
These are but a few stretches that can be done to reach your goals. Remember that these stretches can be modified to fit your individual abilities. If you can’t hold a stretch for the listed time then hold it for as long as you can and don’t give up. You don’t have to do them all at once either. You can use them throughout your day to release tight muscles from working behind a computer, sewing, or other activity that makes you stiff. I have found that if I do a few stretches 1 – 1 1/2 hrs. before I go to bed I sleep better. Most importantly, remember that even small goals are better than no goals at all.
Lower back stretch