Tag Archives: Exercise

Exercising with Fibro – Support Aids.

Image from Pinterest saved by Ala www.acupuncture-sale.com

Hello all,

Blogging time yay! I hope you’re all well.

It’s Monday, a fresh week always brings fresh opportunities. I noted that since my accident and on going recovery, my posts have largely been focussed around that. Interestingly, my Mum, who is my biggest supporter and honest critic noted it too. She commented that perhaps it’s been nice for you to see that I have my difficult times too. That has spurred some reflective thinking I’ve already been idly throwing around my brain. I’m planning to write about it soon. Yet it also makes me feel enough already: Got to keep moving forward.

So I’ve also been thinking about you 💕

I’ve been thinking what more I can offer to support you to begin writing your own story of fighting fibromyalgia with fitness?

Ok, so perhaps I fibbed a little 🤭 The inspiration for this post sprang from still coping with the frustration borne from the fact that my post accident injuries continue to impact on my exercise regime. Because of that, I wondered whether a knee support might help me at this time, but I also realised that I don’t really know what supports do. I promise I’m not going there!!! Only enough to say that it led me to think about what I know about Fibromyalgia; how it can affect us all in such different ways and to varying degrees. So I’ve been trying to look beyond my experience of my own chronic conditions (and injuries) and think about the potential barriers you may have when considering exercise.

And Ta da a new post is born!

Support aids: What are they? What do they do?

I’ve been researching support aids. It occurred to me that when I discuss exercising to manage fibro, your first thought might be to think of the areas that cause you problems. I hope though, that my previous posts convey the message that the battle of living with a chronic illness, can lead to us to thinking “I can’t” as our automatic default. But, I hope that this, and all my posts bring you some hope to think, “with the right support, maybe I can try”. 

The first thing to tell you is “wow this stuff is complicated!” So with that in my mind I ask you to remember, I am not a professional and offer you a condensed version of what I understand from my research to assist you to plan your own support. However, as always, please consult a health professional if you’re feeling unsure.

I looked at a number of different sites. At Fleetfeethartford.com I found a really useful article called ‘Straps, Braces and Tape: Should I wear them’. They wrote:

“In certain cases, a supportive device may be beneficial. It depends on what the diagnosis is, what’s causing it, how much pain your in, and how much you are compensating for your current injury” (Fleet Feet website 18-02-18)

”Ok, great, got it; er hang on what?” Let’s break it down.

1) What the diagnosis is. Ok, so we all hopefully have a diagnosis and some sense of how our illness affects us. 

2) How much pain are you in. This comes back to listening to your body. With fibro fog you may wish to keep a pain journal to isolate what’s happening for you. 

3) How much you are compensating for your current injury. I understand this to mean; how much you are relying on other areas to reduce the pressure on your painful area. So for me, how much pressure am I placing on my right leg/knee to compensate for the fragility of the left. I’m going to make note of this as I go about my day and in the gym too of course. For you: do you find that if one area is painful, before too long you notice aches and pains in the opposite area? Perhaps you are over compensating. Food for thought and more research.

Next I discovered there is a plethora of support aids available on the market; back supports, knee supports, with hinges or without, with holes or without, Wrist braces and straps and tape to name a few!! While I’m not advertising the complete care shop (https://www.completecareshop.co.uk/) had loads to look at and seemed reasonably priced too (not that I would particularly know of course, but I’ll probably use them if I decide to try some) 

A summary of what I learnt.

Belts, braces and flex supports.

The hinges and holes seem to refer to the level of support and range of movement required. Fleet Feet advise that knee supports ‘apply pressure across a larger area and takes stress of the sore area…’  Apparently, it has a ‘proprioceptive’ effect on the knee joint, as the pressure is enough for you to take notice, and in doing so reminds you to take extra care of the injured area. It’s obvious really but I’d never have thought of it. Easy to use but may lead to over reliance.

Tubeskin Tubular Bandage.

ihealthsphere.com.au provide ‘A Complete Guide to Medical Tape and Bandages’ and explain Tubular and Compression bandages provide temporary relief as part of pain management for tired or aching limbs. So, that sounds a helpful post exercise support or for fibro symptoms, but not supportive enough to manage injuries or consistent problem areas when exercising. Temporary relief as part of treating an ailment as opposed to exercise support.

Rigid Strapping Tape.

This tape is designed to restrict movement to a damaged joint to promote healing and reduce the risk of further damage. I’m thinking of when you see people with broken fingers strapped together to stop them moving and setting awkwardly. Hmm possibly a little too restrictive if you’re not recently injured and wanting to exercise effectively. 

Athletic and Ares Kinesiology tape (as per title picture)

Apparently these two are different although I’ve struggled to clarify exactly why. I think it’s because Ares Kinesiology tape or ‘K Tape’ is more advanced and designed to mimic the elasticity of human skin, presumably enabling it to remain more effective and hard wearing during exercise. 

Fleet feet explain; K Tape “lifts the skin, enhances function of the muscles, joints, fascia and lymphatic system. Depending on how it’s applied, it can act to inhibit overactive muscles, facilitate contraction of under active muscles, reduce swelling, provide support or enhance proprioception”. This seems like a great option based on my needs. It will provide support of the fascia, help with over extension, help to strengthen those wasted parts of the muscles. The disadvantages are it seems more expensive, you need to learn how to apply it correctly and failing to may lead to further problems like the tape rubbing.

They added that the tape used to come in red and blue, warm and cold respectively, but the Olympics made them fashionable so all colours are now available and they don’t mean anything! So Go Wild – I’m particularly drawn to the hot pink or maybe Fibro purple 😁!!!!! I’ll be heading to You Tube first to learn how to apply it (safety first)

So that’s it – I’ve looked at tubes, banadages, hinges, straps and tapes! 

Here’s a summary of the key points:

1) Make sure you know what you’re treating e.g. diagnosis 

2) If unsure or for individual guidance – check with a health professional.

3) Think about the activity you will be doing, duration, intensity, impact.

4) Don’t forget they’re support not fixes.

5) Over using aids can lead to physiological dependency – don’t get into the habit of using them when you don’t need to.

6) Use them correctly. 

That’s it I think. I hope you found it informative and helps you to build your exercise plans. Happy to discuss – comment below 😁

Em 🌼

Legs like Bambi! Leg training/back to basics

Legs like Bambi this week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday am.

Well it really does feel like a happy Friday. It’s been a tough week of leg pain and weakness which, combined with some ‘other’ life issues, led to a heavy mood drop by mid week.

I listened to my body and stopped training for this week. After all, there are only so many times you can train your uppers without them needing a rest too! It felt just too unsafe to work my legs more than necessary. I am also aware that I am carrying some stress and we all know what stress does to the fibro body – This fibro body was talking and I was listening.

I love it enough to listen and it told me what it needed was a rest.

From Monday, I took the rest, doing only what I had to; which is basically wash, work, eat, sleep and focussing on what I know to be true rather than my negative thinking. Yesterday I felt much better and today the same.

However, as you know, I’m proudly fighting fibromyalgia with fitness, so for me this is a rest and a rethink. It’s too important to quit, even though my health is flaring and it can make me question what to do, experience tells me I have to keep moving to feel better. I guess this week is a literal extension of the pain barrier I referred to last week. I don’t neglect myself though nor am I reckless.

So I really need to strip it back to basics to see if I can gauge my current level and figure out if it was a particular exercise my legs didn’t like, the variations, or the amount.

I’ve stressed how important it is when exercising with a chronic illness (or two!) to listen to your body and respond when it speaks.

Here’s the plan:

 Using paracetamol and ibrupofen. I haven’t needed to use medication too much since the accident, but I’m not anti nor am I a martyr. I believe I should use them as little as necessary because there may come a time when I might need them much more and I don’t want to risk building a tolerance. That said, medicine is designed to support us, it’s amazing and can make a vital difference. If you need it, you need it. I also think it’s a valuable part of resting because reducing pain helps my muscles relax and in turn my mind. Enough said.

 Maintaining self awareness when walking. Since the accident, I now Park and Ride that last mile into work, but it’s still a fair walk from the bus stop to the office. Including steps! Earlier in the week those walks were tough but as my aches reduced, my walking improved. As I walked or climbed stairs, I was mindful of how my legs felt, noted pain – where it was, whether it was sharp, considered if one movement hurt more and so on. What I’ve learnt is with rest, I’ve progressed with my daily routine, not worsened. None the less, they were painful and this didn’t subside fully until Thursday. I’m aware that my knees still feel fragile but with minimal pain. I’m OK but fragile so over doing it will likely undo my good work. 

I’ve also been reflecting on my activity levels in the build up to this episode. If I’m honest on reflection I think pacing as, (ahem) been something of an issue!! My trouble is my ambition outweighs my ability at times. I tell myself lying on my couch after work, happily blogging isn’t exhausting my energy, when I know that isn’t true. Without realising it initially, I learnt that when my training routine is disrupted, so too is my pacing routine. This feels like good learning and something to be mindful of. I’m taking this realisation into next week’s training plan. Back to being a weekend blogger for me then.

I’m going to delay training until the weekend because I don’t have work so if necessary have a full day to recover. I’m not going to take any pain relief before I go because I don’t want to mask any symptoms. I’m also planning to do a light all over routine rather the focus on one area as I usually do, I’m going to gently work my body and listen to how it responds. What I mean by this is usually on ‘leg day’ I would complete 5 or 6 different leg exercises in one session. This is great to target all your leg muscles but not great if you’re trying to isolate any problems. I plan to do one or a maximum of two leg exercises. Also I’m keeping the time to a minimum for the same reason; with the aim of building up gradually if all goes well.

Tomorrow is the day. It will be my first time in the gym since Monday and since the pain and the fatigue whooped my ass! I’m a little nervous but confident in my belief of myself. 

Sunday am

 I waited until now until report how it yesterday went, just in case, but so far all indications are that…it went well yay!! 

 I decided to do 10-15 minutes on the cross trainer and if that went well move into straight leg dumbbell deadlifts. I started with the cross trainer as felt this was low impact. I made sure all levels were set to 1. At first my knees were very creaky and it I nearly gave up but before I did I altered my position to check out what felt most comfortable. In no time, it seemed my legs woke up, I kept it gentle but soon the knee clicking stopped and I found myself in a rhythm. For the last few minutes I increased the incline to slight hill climb and was surprised to feel that this felt more supportive for my knees, probably because I wasn’t extending them as fully; interesting. 

I then focussed on my uppers, including some abdominals for a little while, as I know from experience that working your core involves hip stretches, so I wanted to know whether this would be a problem but again it wasn’t. Back to uppers and then I finished with the straight leg dumbbell deadlifts. Legs to start, legs to finish. There was no pain in my legs, I felt relaxed but energised. I chose this excercise specifically because it’s focus is mostly on the lower back and glutes. Doing this means I wasn’t pushing the same legs muscles too hard and provided the opportunity check for any warning signs in my lower back, glutes and hips. I felt satisfied of a job well done.

Waking up this morning, I have an average muscle ache, but importantly no pain. I plan a couple of days of recovery from training legs now to gauge how they feel. I’m tired but not too much so. Time will tell, but right now I’m feeling happy.

My Message..

It’s important to listen to your body and give it what it needs but don’t exclude the idea that exercise may be what it needs too.

Fingers crossed for next week’s progress for us all. 

Bye for now. 

Dumbbell straight leg deadlifts (fittplan.com)

Cross trainer

Exercising at home Tips and Examples.

On social media this week I shared the above post and in doing so had a lightbulb moment 💡 – I decided to write an entry about ways to exercise at home.

So here it is!

I’ve divided the body into parts and tried to find a home exercise for each muscle group to provide a full workout. There are a lot more variations available than I feature, but I hope this post will at least give you some ideas and help you come up with more home exercises that work for you.

Calves:

Calf raises are great for toning calves and also for loosening those tight muscles. I employ my bottom stair to do mine, it also means I can hold onto the rail if I’m feeling unsteady. Of course, if you have no steps or stairs at all, these can be done on level ground, simply by raising from flat foot to toe and back.

 

Here’s some I prepared earlier!

From the picture I hope you will see that in order to maximise impact on all parts of my calf muscle, I turn my feet in three directions – straight, toes turned out, toes turned in.

The balls of my feet are placed firmly on the step with heels hanging off. I then raise up onto to my toes stretching as far as I can and then pushing down into my heels to feel the reverse stretch. Up, up, up & then, down, down, down!

Try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions but obviously stop if you feel any pain – this is about feeling better not worse! Any amount is progress. I do:

1 x 10 repetitions foot straight. 1 x 10 toes pointed out, 1 x 10 toes pointing in. 30 repetitions in total…pretty good for five minutes work.

Legs:

I’m still unable to train my legs for a few more weeks, I think the calf raises pushed them enough, I know you’ll understand. Instead courtesy of Pinterest, (I think posted by Snow Rehab)  I found this leg workout that I would do at home.

 

I tend to focus on squats, lunges and the wall squat. If, like me you have wood floors, be sure to wear trainers or go bare feet for more stability. Socks are fine on carpet I find. You could do 10 lunges, 10 squats and the 50 second wall squat or try them all! Whichever works best for you.

Abdominals 

By far the best ab workout I use is the 7 minute ab workout by Athlean X. I either follow it, or complete variations I’ve learnt from it. The link is attached in my post The Challenge of Fatigue part 2 but to save you time…….

 

However for something more gentle, because of my leg injury, I have been supporting my legs by resting them on my armchair and performing a version of incline sit ups.

I place a throw under me for support (who needs a mat!!) I lift and squeeze my stomach muscles as I do, relaxing as I lie back. To focus on my obliques, I add a variation by putting a twist in. 

 Chest and back & shoulders.

Yup, it’s gotta be the press up. It doesn’t matter if you do them on the stairs, half or full, they’re great for working your chest, back and shoulders. It’s an all rounder – a must have like the squat.

I’m doing half press ups on my knees, well I’m actually doing a demo only because of my legs but usually I would do as many as I can. I’m still working on full press ups…but I will do 10 one day soon. 😏

I have my trusty throw under my knees for support and I’m using grip handles. If you can afford to spend out a little there a lots of small items that can be useful. For me, my wrists are very weak and hurt when my hands are flat on the floor, the handles takes the pressure off the bend in my wrist. I found mine at Lidl, for £3.99!

With your back straight, bend your arms and imagine you’re going to gently touch your nose on the floor as you lower, but stop before you do! Then push through your back, chest and arms back up. As many as you can. 

Arms

Bending or raising your arms is pretty much the core of most arm exercises. If you can afford some free weights, great but if not water bottles are great. I’ve also used a chair to complete some tricep bends by gripping the chair behind me and lowering myself down and back up.

I’m again working my triceps by bending over, holding the bottle with my arm bent to begin and then pushing my arm straight out behind me. You should feel a stretch to the back of your upper arm. Another trick for bingo wings is to hold the bottle above your head and keeping your elbows in to your sides, lower your arms backward as shown. 

In the other two pictures, I’m holding the bottle from beneath (in the middle) and then curling my arm and squeezing my bicep. I haven’t included pictures but you can also do shoulder raises by holding the bottle on one shoulder and then pushing it up toward the ceiling. Don’t forget to swap arms. Keep a slight bend if you have sore elbows or they over extend like mine. 

You can then drink the water to maintain your hydration and refill the bottle to help the environment – multi benefits, what more could you ask?! 

Well that’s it. I hope I’ve left you feeling creative about how you can exercise at home. I realise that when living with pain and fatigue, exercise can feel too much, this is where a home workout can be a small step or a healthy compromise. 

Sometimes, when I don’t feel like going to the gym, a home workout is a great alternative. Of course it’s always important to listen to your body but I maintain that such listening should be honest. I put myself through a little test to check if I really need to rest or just can’t be bothered. You’ll laugh but I do this; 

1st, I put on a you tube video of inspirational female bodybuilders and usually think “if they can do that, you can do 30 minutes in your living room”. I also look at them in awe and think if I want it, I’ve got to work for it. Or, when I’m watching TV, I challenge myself to complete an exercise but only for the duration of the adverts. This feels like a generous compromise and once I start, it’s usually longer. They’re small tricks but work to motivate me.

Of course there are times when 2-3 repetitions confirm that I’m not up to it. That’s ok at least I know honestly what my body needs. 

Bye for now 😀