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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 😁