Fibro Falling

“How did you break your ankle?”

I get asked that a lot: I’m still limping, 7 months later. I was walking in Bali and I fell. No motor bikes. No bicycles. No alcohol. No bumpy footpaths. No drugs. Just walking. I fell.

Gait and balance are severely impaired in women with fibromyalgia, according to “Altered Functional Performance in Patients with Fibromyalgia” published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Only women were included in this study as the vast majority (80%-90%) of people affected by fibromyalgia are women. The study showed that walking speed was significantly reduced in women with fibromyalgia, compared to women without pain, probably due to the reduction in stride length and frequency.

When the researchers analysed the association of gait and balance impairment with functional performance and the level of pain, they found that high levels of pain, depression, stiffness, anxiety, and fatigue (DUH!) were the main parameters associated with reduced gait and balance.

Finally, the researchers reported that they observed an abnormal pattern of body sways during balance tasks in fibromyalgia patients. They thought this could be associated with changes in the motor control system, and might explain why fibromyalgia patients experience a higher rate of falls.

Overall, the findings highlighted the relevant role of postural control and balance for daily activity functioning in fibromyalgia patients.

So, I’m doing hydrotherapy, pilates, deep-water running, recumbent cycling and indoor rowing.

Bring on the strong core muscles, a 6-pack and balance!

So, I went to Yoga…

This will be a two part post. The plan is to give you a balanced view of my yoga class, so part 1 will be written while still on my exercise high. The next part will be written tomorrow (in real time, but not blog time) so, if there are any FM repercussions, I can let you know.

Part 1

I introduced myself to the dude who was holding the class – have you ever noticed that all male yoga teachers have ponytails? – letting him know about my condition and that I have never attended a class before this.

It all started very nicely. He turned on the relaxing music, lit the incense and we all sat on our mats with our legs crossed and our hands together (like we were praying) in front of us. Inhale…exhale. Concentrate on your breath. Then he told us to put our hands on our knees, palms up. Inhale…exhale. Concentrate on your breath. Next, put your dominant hand on your belly button and your other hand on your heart. Breathe in and feel your belly button go out. Exhale and feel your belly button move towards your spine. Breathe in and feel the breath move to your heart. Let your heart grow. Inhale…exhale. Concentrate on your breath. Hey! I can do this! Next we stood up straight; breathe in, lift your arms above your head and join your hands above your head. Then bring your hands down in front of you, back to that prayer position. Prepare yourself then let go of everything, letting your arms fall to the floor as you exhale. Still cool. Place your hands on the mat, take your left foot, then your foot backwards, moving into the downward dog position. My legs don’t move that way, dude! Then roll yourself down into the plank position. What? How? Now move your forehead and chin to the mat then push yourself up into a cobra. What the hell are you talking about? Then down again; then back into the downward dog.

Now this wasn’t as easy as it sounded (?) but I will admit that at the end of an hour, I appeared to be able to do this basic series of positions much more smoothly. The series is known as the Sun Salutation, and is meant to be practiced at the beginning of every yoga session. It is a way to warm up your body and focus your mind for the session. I was sweating profusely by this stage.

From the above series we moved into a forward lunge (supposedly by just moving my leg forward and NOT falling over!) then leaning to the side and rising (yes, at the same time) and moving into a half-moon pose then twist back, do the full series again and the lunge and moon thing on the other side. (Or don’t! and have to stop and rest in the child’s position while the rest of the class continues)

The really good thing about this is that you get to see how the rest of the class is doing. Other people are losing their balance, or resting, or looking on questioningly. This is really good to know – you don’t feel like quite a (politically incorrect) SPAZ!

There’s a ton of other positions: warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior 3, fish, Lord of the Dance pose, etc – but the best one I saw, that totally spun me out was the shoulder press:

This amazed me. And I think that I would have been able to do this except that my bum weighs SO much that I can’t lift it. Otherwise, I would have been a shoe-in! Instead Yoga Dude set me (the only real beginner) up against the wall so I could lie flat with my legs spread up in the air, against the wall. Imagine being at the gynaecologists – now, you’ve got it! Mind you, after a while, it was quite comfortable.

My favourite position was right at the end, called the corpse.

I went to the class alone and had to giggle all by myself (although everyone was very nice – they were also very serious about yoga). This would be great to do with a friend (especially the first few times) – who else will be able to tell embarrassing stories to all your family and friends?

Somehow, after all of this, I came away energised and refreshed (just in time for pizza for dinner – you really can’t expect me to cook after all of this!). I’m feeling light and buoyant and absolutely nothing hurts (knock on wood!) I don’t want to go to bed tonight because I don’t want to lose this feeling…you may just need to remind me about it in the morning!

Part 2

I have been awake for 2 hours now – waiting…is something going to hurt (more than normal)?

And guess what? No real pain; nothing very different from the normal FM wake up – other than I still feel energised (despite only having 5 hours sleep compared to yesterday’s astounding 10!)

So, I think it’s safe to report (and I’ll let you know if anything changes) that my yoga experience was pretty good. Note to all: I’ve been told that every yoga class is different (sound familiar?) so, for those just trying it like me, attempt to find a gentle or beginner’s class; introduce yourself to the instructor (he can then keep an eye on you); and have a giggle!

Untitled

Pilates Pleasure

Yesterday, I downloaded my FREE 14 day pass to the local gym (which is very local – it’s about 500 metres down the street!) and went to have a chat to a lovely lady about my condition and what her gym could do for me. We talked about the yoga and Pilates sessions; and we talked about what would happen after the 14 days was up. (I had to explain that I was absolutely broke and had to be very careful about where I chose to invest my limited funds.) Firstly, she gave me an extra week on my pass. Then she said that, if I find the classes are working for me, she could work out a special price so I could attend just those classes and not have to pay for the use of the entire gym. WOW! Nice lady!

To today:

Getting out of bed early, so my body will be functioning (not necessarily well), for a 9.20am Pilates class is not easy, but I’m motivated and I promised you guys a report…

So, I just got out of the shower (yes! I had a shower) after cooling down from the session. And I gotta say: Whoo Eee! (that’s a shout of glee!)Am I feeling energised! Already my muscles ache – but it’s a different sensation than the FM pain. It’s the pleasurable awareness that all my muscles are there and have been stretched and manipulated. (For those who don’t have sex very often, it’s sort of like the day after feeling…yeah, you feel tired and achy but hey! It was worth it and let’s do it again!)

Now I didn’t do that kind of stuff!

We did Mat-based Pilates (not so easy to get up off the floor at the end, though) – this is a series of exercises performed on the floor using gravity and your own body weight to provide the resistance. The central aim is to condition the deeper, supporting muscles of the body to improve posture, balance and coordination. By focusing on your core strength, you (supposedly) enhance the little muscles in the body so you’re better able to support the larger ligaments, tendons and joints. Pilates is a very intense stretching class that incorporates workouts for your abdominal, leg, arm and back muscles – I found the stretching remarkable (it was like my poor, exhausted muscles could finally open up and take a breath of fresh air) and it’s nice to know that I still have some flexibility. Strength-wise? I have none! Anything that involved holding up my own body – even standing on my tippy-toes – was challenging. But it’s only the beginning of my learning curve…

Pilates encourages you to think about how you perform everyday movements. It heightens your body awareness; it helps you ensure your body is working at its optimal level all the time. Pilates will give you more of a holistic result than most other exercises regimes. It will make you focus on your breathing which is great for improving circulation and relieving stress. It is alleged to be a fantastic way to balance out your health and wellbeing.

Pilates is actually great for people with injuries, weak muscles and particularly bad posture because it encourages you to strengthen your problem areas in a relaxed and low impact way. (NB: It is advisable that anyone with serious injuries consults their doctor or physio though. Pregnant women should also get the okay from their doctor before proceeding.)

Now, tomorrow (or maybe even later on today) I know I’m going to hurt – I’m hoping it is the spent muscle type of hurt and not the FM hurt (but I may be kidding myself – I’ll let you know then).

Joseph Pilate

But I’ll know exactly who to blame: Joseph Pilates developed the yoga-like moves to rehabilitate Second World War soldiers. He then modified the style for injured dancers and so the modern-day method was born.

I’m looking after the beautiful Z tomorrow too, so I had better not hurt too much – playing with Z involves at least one walk to the park and a lot of kicking (then chasing) a ball around. I then have hydrotherapy so the warm water will soothe my tired, spent, exhausted, weary, drained, fatigued, wiped out body.

From just sitting on the couch last week, I‘ve suddenly got a REALLY busy schedule!