Tag Archives: Fibro

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 🌼

Pulling back from the Fibro black hole.

Hello there,

So I’ve been absent for a little while. I didn’t realise it at first but I’ve been teetering over the edge of the fibro black hole.

I nearly fell –  I nearly lost myself.

In preparation for this post, I’ve been thinking about Fibro again, about how my message to others who question it is “don’t judge what you don’t know”. As a fibro friend once commented; there seems this view that fibro sufferers want to be sick, that somehow we’re lazy, when in fact we actually work harder than most just to be well.

This led me to think that actually fibro sufferers have all it takes to be great bodybuilders: Fibro sufferers know all too well what it means to dig deep to utilise their inner strength in order to manage their conditions and to find some inner peace.

The last few weeks I’ve learnt again that as a fibro sufferer, I understand what it takes to be a bodybuilder and as a bodybuilder I understand how best I can manage fibro symptoms.

The black hole.

I’ve discussed before how I was trying not to worry that my injuries and inability to train would mean a return of my fibro symptoms. I tried not to permit such negative thinking but be mindful of the possibility. Indeed, I thought I was prepared; listening to my body and responding appropriately. I wasn’t.

All was going well until the end of the third week of my phased return to work. I finished the week exhausted, with a lump and intense pain to my fractured knee and my mood was dropping. Fatigue always impacts heavily on my mood. I literally cry when I’m over tired.

Thinking I was doing the right thing I took immediate action:

  • I reduced my working hours for the following week (thanks to my supportive manager’s)

  • Booked a review with my GP and Occupational health

  • Stopped training (I was doing uppers as best I could up until now)

  • Get as much rest as I can.

    That basically equated to lying on my couch for the entire weekend worrying about was going on with my knee and how big a set back it was. Giving in to negative thinking, despite not having a shred of evidence. Still I didn’t see the warning signs.

    Thankfully, as it often does, change occurred very quickly. In fact it changed in one day, Tuesday to be exact. That’s kind of the point isn’t it? We waste energy we don’t have worrying about the future when everthing changes –  usually very quickly too.

    Two events triggered me into action and opened the door to some clear thinking.

  • The GP said my knee problems were linked to cartilage and muscle wastage. He advised me to start re-building my leg muscles. Turns out the problems I was having were due to a lack of exercise.

realised I’d been worrying for nothing. A huge weight lifted. I felt scared but it meant I was one step closer to getting my life back.
Later that night I told my husband what the Doctor said. He looked really relieved and told me I need to get back to training. Then he said:

  •  “the way you’ve been over the last week is the way you were every day 4 years ago before you started training”.

Another realisation; he was right and both he and my Mum had mentioned fibro flare to me in the last week. I remembered feeling surprised at the time because neither had said it for some time but again shrugged it off, I was busily attributing everything to my recovery from the RTA which has been something of a journey too.

I decided I would return to training on Saturday, but on waking up on Wednesday the fog was definitely lifting. I realised by saying I would start on Saturday was simply an extension of my fibro feelings – putting it off because I was tired and sore and scared. 

Do not put off what you need to do today.

I returned to the Gym that night and have been training consistently ever since. I’ve felt anxious and it reminded me how I felt when I first started training but I’ve maintained my clear thinking and trust that unless I feel pain or my leg shakes, I’m good. It’s gone well. 

It’s been 2 weeks now and the difference I feel is incredible.

  • Physically, I’m less tight so pain has decreased. I didn’t realise how tight my muscles were until I stretched them out. I’m enjoying that satisfying body ache not the dull ache one.

  • Mentally, I can almost feel the serotonin levels rising. Feeling proud of myself and ever certain that bodybuilding is my answer.

  • My energy levels are increasing.

My message:

For me, exercise is the only way to manage all of my health. Bodybuilding is not a hobbie, it’s not even a lifestyle…… It’s life.

Until next time.