Fibro Flare Recovery Gets a Boost with Movement

Fibro Flare Recovery Gets a Boost with Movement

Happy Spring! Meteorologically speaking, we are fully 5 days into it! Even Punxsutawney Phil called it early this year so that’s good enough for me. I don’t know what all that white stuff is outside some of your windows, but I’ve got roses in my glasses and cherry blossoms in my heart. I’m also going to talk about fibro flares today so I figured a little overkill with the opening cheer wouldn’t hurt.

How’s it going people? Back in January, I talked about getting back into a routine after the holidays (or other life interruptions). Having any luck or are you still thinking about getting back on track? ‘S ok. This life thing is a marathon, not a sprint; by the same token, it’s probably a good idea to cross that start line sometime. I got to thinking, though, what if your routine got off track because of a fibro flare? Then what? I suspect a fibro flare throws a far bigger wrench into your track than the struggle of everyday routine recovery.

Getting Through a Fibro Flare

Fibro flares are unforgiving little bastards that will knock you silly, leave you dazed and confused, and render you incapable of anything beyond your base mammalian functions. How on earth do you recover?? Are your main strategies to hunker down, ignore life, and reacquaint with your entire inventory of pain meds? You’re not alone.

During the most acute phase of your fibro flare, you probably don’t feel much like doing a whole lot. Certainly, a flare is a clear signal that your body is suffering (you know, more than usual) and needs a time out.

So what do you do during this time out? Slow down! This assumes, of course, that you don’t have deadlines or family obligations or you otherwise have things that will slow down along with you. Get some sleep! Because you are capable of good, solid sleep, in the first place. Ask for help! And presumably, you have a good support system that is at your beck and call. It’s all so obvious, right? I didn’t say it would be easy.

Be Active During a Fibro Flare

How much do you hate me for that little section heading? It’s ok. I can take it.

How you handle a flare depends, in part, on how bad it is. There are many strategies for managing a fibro flare, but today, we’ll focus on being active, keeping moving.

How much moving? You judge. If you are not a regular exerciser, now is not the time to become one (it probably goes without saying) so keep it simple. Consider getting up and walking a short distance a couple of times a day. Do some light stretching to maintain joint flexibility. Literally, keep your body moving.

If you are a regular exerciser, there are many ways you can scale back on your normal routine while still remaining active:

Frequency: If you exercise a little bit everyday, then it would be reasonable to scale back a few days to 3 and then work your way back up to everyday. If you were only exercising 3 days a week to begin with, you might want to stick with that and make adjustments in other ways.

Intensity: During a flare, there is a good chance that you will naturally scale back your intensity as an inevitable consequence of increased pain. Otherwise, consider slowing your running or walking pace; use intervals to mix in lower levels of intensity; do pool-based activities which tend to be slower paced.

Time: Time is probably the one factor that is easiest to adjust. A good starting point might be half of what you were doing before. If you usually walk for 20 minutes, try starting with 10 for the first few days or week during the most acute part of your fibro flare or immediately after your flare recovery. Slowly work back to 20 minutes in intervals of 1-3 minutes every week. Or scale back to 5 minutes a couple of times a day. There’s no hard and fast rule and it’s always better to err on the conservative side.

Type: The type of exercise you do may change during a fibro flare, too. As an extreme example, if you usually run, now would be a good time to walk instead. If you do weight-bearing activity, in general, switching to the pool or the bike will take some of that load off and be easier on your joints. Light intensity forms of yoga and Tai Chi are also gentle ways to keep you active.

Why move at all? Lack of movement for any length of time exacerbates stiffness, soreness, and discomfort. If you are inactive for long enough, this will compound muscle atrophy (loss of size and strength), reduce your independence, disturb your sleep (even more) and substantially increase your risk for other diseases. I’m guessing you don’t need extra help with these things.

This, Too, Shall Pass

The good news about a fibro flare is that it is temporary. Inevitably, it will subside. But how you handle the acute phase will go a long way toward helping you recover more easily and helping you maintain a positive attitude throughout. Your body actually likes to move. A lot. It’s your brain that usually gets in the way. So don’t think about it, just move.

How do you handle a fibro flare? Are you a hunkerer or a mover? What are your best and worst strategies?

[photo: flickr]

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    1. Hi l popped in yesterday for the first time ,l returned this evening to have a good read! So glad I did! I’m having a flare not sure if its my fibro (. New to me in the labeled form !) or my Lupus SLE or the Hashimoto’s, either way once l,get moving lm on a roll .just dangerous if l stop! Walked today at the shops .paced nicely.stopped for lunch. came home and did that silly thing .The lay on the bed.oh it was so comfy.BUT then l had to go to the bathroom!!OMG so stiff ! Even my fingers are stiff tonight what is going on!
      Thankyou for taking the time to share knowledge…

      • Hi Donna!

        Thank you for popping in…twice! And hopefully more now that I am getting back on the blogging wagon after a brief, unexpected hiatus. Anyway, you make a good point about moving – and then stopping. There is often “danger” in stopping moving. Sometimes, that’s when you realize just how much the “moving” was really helping! Good for you, too, in recognizing a good pace when you feel one. If only you could eliminate that pesky need to use the bathroom every so often, your comfy laying would go uninterrupted and life would be grand, huh?! 🙂
        kirsten recently posted..Fibro Flare Recovery Gets a Boost with MovementMy Profile

    2. Hi, just found the site also. I’ve been diagnosed with fibro for almost 20 years. I believe I’ve had it for 30-40 yrs. if not my whole life. My best way of coping? Keep moving. I ran marathons early on. Low back and foot problems ended running. Then came walking, yoga, step, zumba & lifting weights. I almost forgot I had fibro, with no flares for 3-4 years. I also have osteoporosis & djd in my spine. Earlier this year, a total shoulder replacement kept me in a recliner for 2 months. Lots of gentle shoulder pt. then my low back went out. I could not walk, the pain went everywhere, lots of chiropractor, pt, massage, & a medrol dose pack later, I can walk, sort of, then my planter faciatis went on my right foot. But I must keep moving, stretching, whatever I can do… Motion, exercise, is what keeps fibro at bay. I’m 60. I’ve kept my weight down, eat healthy, no sugar, no starches, no fast food. I take vitamins, & make juices every day. I’m on cymbalta, lyrica, Celebrex, flexerel, and endocet. But movement is the one thing I’m certain I need

      • Hi Mary Sue

        Thanks for sharing your experiences! Sounds like you’ve had your share of ups and downs, forwards and set backs and, I’m sure, no small amount of frustration. Good for you, though, in keeping at it, keeping your chin up, not getting defeated, and most of all, keeping moving through it all. I know you’ve learned this for yourself already but you’re doing yourself such a huge favor (for your overall health in addition to your fibro) by continuing to be active and watching your dietary intake. This is a completely separate issue, but I just read a fascinating article about integrative oncology the other day which described the progress researchers have made in understanding how diet (certain foods and spices, methods of growing and processing foods from farm or pasture to table, etc.) can help or exacerbate inflammation of tissues. Combining classic drug treatments with patient- or condition-specific dietary “treatment” has been extremely successful in improving the prognosis of cancer patients by reducing tumor growth or metastases to other tissues or body systems. Lessons to learn for other chronic inflammatory illnesses and pain syndromes. Anyway, I’ve always been a huge supporter and believer in the benefits of movement of any kind for health, but I continue to gain new respect for the added (and sometimes greater) benefit of diet. Keep up the great work and be well!
        kirsten recently posted..Fibro Flare Recovery Gets a Boost with MovementMy Profile

    3. First timer here… did a google search about how to recover quickly from a fibro flare and your site came up.
      I love how upbeat your writing is and how it was what i needed to hear… it is what i know, but it was an awesome reinforcement.
      thank you for the time and energy you put into this site to help us when we have no energy and are in pain as a result of the fibro!


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