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Gentle exercise, stretches, and similar ways of relieving muscle pain or keeping mobi

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Calathea, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    After accidentally hijacking the kidney pain thread, I thought it would be useful to have a separate thread for safe and gentle methods of exercise, stretching, and similar ways of relieving muscle pain or keeping mobile. Here are some that work for me, and some which look interesting.

    1. The Miracle Ball Method. You get two grapefruit-sized balls, firm enough to give some support but soft enough to be fairly comfortable to lie on, and a small book that explains how to use them. The main idea is that you do proper deep breathing from your diaphragm, and that lying on a ball makes the muscles around it relax automatically. A lot of people never get further than this, and I confess to being one of them. In my defence, I never did work out a way of using two balls at once without one scampering away (should have put them in a stocking), plus I lent one ball and the book to a neighbour with chronic headache, and she never returned them. I think the exercises are more likely to happen if you have someone to read them out to you, instead of trying to relax deeply while lying on the floor and then stopping to find your page and peer at it.

    Anyway, simply lying on the ball works very nicely for me. It's probably the best thing I've found for relieving muscle tension in the back and nearby areas. A good massage may sometimes work better, but it's more likely to knock me out afterwards, plus I can't afford to have a massage every day. I generally start with the ball at about bra strap level, breathe deeply for a minute, then wriggle down a bit so that the ball is slightly higher up my spine, breathe deeply, rinse and repeat until it gets to my head. Then I may go back and put the ball under my tailbone for a bit as well. I don't put it in the small of my back, it seems an obvious place but you don't want to be putting that sort of pressure on your kidneys. Depending on how I feel and how much space I have (I tend to get tangled up in the ironing basket!), my legs are either straight or bent, sometimes with my feet apart and my knees touching to keep balance, and I will also vary the position of my arms e.g. straight down, straight out to the side in a crucifixion pose, hands resting on my lower ribs, arms out with elbows bent and so forth.

    You need to be on a firm surface, a bed or sofa won't work, but for comfort you'll need some padding. I lie on a rug, and since I lost weight and it largely went from my backside, I now put a small cushion under my tailbone. If I'm just doing a quick session, 5-10 min, this is generally fine. Last night I was trying to get rid of persistent migraine which was causing a tender spot in my left shoulder, so I put on an audiobook and took the electric heated throw onto the floor with me so that I could be cosy - and not too bored - for longer. That said, you'd expect to get bored when you're just lying there for 5 min, but concentrating on breathing and feeling my muscles relax is usually enough to keep my mind occupied, I find. This is happening less as I'm more used to the technique and relax better from the start now, but I will often find that the muscle relaxation happens in stages, and I can feel a sort of giving way. If you find that it's really sore, stop. It could be bad positioning, bad breathing, or it could be that your muscles are really really tense in that spot. See if you can find another area where it's comfortable, and get used to it from there.

    Watch out if you have chemical sensitivities. I didn't have problems with this myself (I do have chemical sensitivities, annoying by most people's standards, but fairly mild compared to some of the people on this board), but you'll see a few reviews on Amazon are complaining of the plasticky smell. One review mentioned that putting the ball in a sock helped. The other problem is that you do have to be able to get yourself down onto the floor and back up again afterwards.

    I've used this technique for back pain in general, helping to unknot my shoulders when I have migraine (a bit limited there, as my shoulders upward go completely rigid and sometimes too much for me to be able to tolerate lying on the ball at all, but sometimes it helps), and when I had calcific tendinitis in one shoulder and was pulling my body out of alignment from having one arm in so much pain and unable to be used, this helped get things straightened out again. Obviously it couldn't do anything about the tendon problem, but non-muscular problems usually end up causing the nearby muscles to tense up as a reaction, and it can help with that. I also find it the easiest way for me to get in breathing exercises, which I'm crap at motivating myself to do generally.

    2. Exercise pedaller (or peddler, as the packaging randomly renamed it) - after my first mini exercise bike was accidentally broken, I ended up getting a much lighter weight model which can even fold down. I keep meaning to try to find a good balance with this, as I invariably overdo it and have great fun for three weeks followed by a crash. Someone's suggested using it every other day, and never going above 2 min (for me, obviously this is personal). I do find it quite pleasant to use, it's not enough to get my heart rate up when used briefly and the sitting position is ideal. The main thing was finding somewhere to keep it where I wouldn't have to move it more than a foot to use it, and where I could sit comfortably, with my back supported. They all seem to have a tendency to creep away from you, which is a nuisance. If both you and the peddlar are on a rug or carpet, this probably doesn't happen. I have hardwood floors, but this one is far less creepish than my previous incumbent (a much heavier model), and it didn't start creeping for a while, so it might just be a matter of keeping the rubber feet clean. I live up one flight of stairs, and the main thing I find this helps with is when I'm getting out of the flat so rarely that I'm really out of practice with getting down the stairs. If you do get one, ring a few shops stocking a variety and have a chat, as apparently the quality varies and there are some rubbishy plastic ones out there as well as some needlessly overpriced models. This model has a nice little timer on it, and you can set it to show various things (time, distance, speed, calories) or cycle through them. I have it set to show just the time, so that I can make sure I stick strictly to the length of time intended.

    I have a few more things I could review, but by now I'm rather tired, so watch this space. Here are some books I'm eyeing up on Amazon, meanwhile:

    Get Fit In Bed - looks potentially very useful, even if I only use a few stretches from it. Gets rave reviews from elderly folks, people with fibro and a few people with other medical conditions. The exercise routine appears to be gentle and short, with suggestions for how to make it even less taxing, so it sounds pretty ME-friendly. I'm trying to work out how it would be easiest to use: printed book, on a Kindle (if I get a Kindle - we're still trying to work out how my eyes would get on with one), or to use the Kindle app for PCs and read it on the laptop, which has a nice 16.4" screen and is on an overbed table.

    Get Fit While You Sit - might be useful for people who are at a higher activity level than me, I suspect. Spiral-bound version sounds useful.

    Yoga In Bed - haven't looked through this one properly yet but looks handy, especially the breathing stuff. I know very little about yoga, I try it occasionally but bar the odd stretch I've picked up, I find it too exhausting.

    As far as I can tell, some of the main problems with exercise are:

    1) Sensory overload from noise etc. outside the home amplifying the exhaustion.
    2) Getting your heart rate up and/or getting breathless.
    3) Having to change levels from sitting to standing etc., and being at some levels in particular e.g. not being able to exercise standing up. I really loathe having to get onto the floor and crawl back up again, and having to do it repeatedly is not going to happen.
    4) Getting chilly.
    5) If you do try to exercise in bed, many exercises just don't work because it's not a solid firm surface.

    Just as a note to myself, when I get around to adding to this thread, I'll review the roller slide thingy and Stretchclock.com.

    I should mention that I am still fairly bad at pacing myself whenever I try to take up an exercise regime, but I do better if I'm just aiming at relieving pain through sporadic stretching. I've bought a book with DVD on gentle Tai Chi (never felt up to trying it), a DVD on gentle Pilates (think someone pinched the DVD, and again I was intimidated) and a book on basic belly dancing (never got past the warm-ups), though I do keep meaning to have a proper look at them when I feel up to it.
     
    L'engle likes this.
  2. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

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    I have a pilates exerciser, elliptical and weights. I used them with CFS after getting much better... But after POTS started three years ago I was unable to lift my head. Finally, after progressing for 2 1/2 years, I can walk again and I bought a peddler. I spent quite a bit on it since the cheaper ones are loud and rough. Mine is quiet and smooth. Very nice.

    I also do the Sit and Be Fit. The show is on PBS. I have it recorded and just ordered a DVD from Amazon. This is very good! You can sit and do only one of each thing or whatever you feel like. I have the exer.bands and I enjoy it.

    Thankfully there are some great ways to get the circulation better and that is so important. Also keeping muscle mass, all is needed. The key is just do one minute a day if that is all you can do. Anything is helpful, even if it is only flexing your ankles back and forward. That is great for ciculation. That is all I could do for a long time.
     
  3. hurtingallthetimet

    hurtingallthetimet Senior Member

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    thanks for the info...i always wonder how and if people can actually keep up exercise with these illness..the doctor tells me that it will help..but it seems to make it worse...i try though...i do little things like park away from store im in pain all the time but if its a pain that is like a 7 or so and i have to get out i always try to park away from store a little to walk..

    the doctor also suggested using the electric buggy on really bad days ive not been able to bring myslef to do that ive been made to feel embarassed for being ill at my age so thats another thing though...i just lean on the push buggy that helps to take pressure off some.....

    the doctor also suggested pool but i cant afford one and cant really go to a public one becuase of social phobias...

    you posted some great info and tips to help others
     
  4. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I'm surprised that you don't find this makes you worse, actually. Shopping is exhausting at the best of times, and I'm always trying to make it less tiring, not more tiring.
     
  5. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    I've not been able to find any exercise that relieves pain and doesn't result in PEM. Even stretches can wipe me out and due to hypermobility can cause extra problems. Starting slow and building up makes no difference. Thats why graded exercise in the UK sent so many patients downhill like me.

    I need every scrap of my little energy to do things like bathe and personal maintence like hair brushing. If I were to exercise with even small "in bed" stretches it leaves less physical functioning to do even the simplest thing to help myself.

    This means that one whole area of pain reduction is out for me. I'm very luck that I can get some needle trigger point therapy through a local NHS hospital. Until then I felt trapped in a pain amplifier which was switched on high. All the experimentation with stretching, exercise and even manual trigger point manipulation had left me so badly off.

    For circulation I use a pair of what used to be called "space boots" that fit over my legs and then pump up using a machine. Trying to do this manually through moving my legs even in small circles led to the usual problem of too little being pointless for me, and too much leading to PEM.

    For those of us who cannot exercise it can be hard to find solutions.
     
  6. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I think it's hard at all levels, though obviously the worse the ME is, the harder this gets. I find showering and such to be fairly challenging as well, though thankfully right now I'm at a stage where I can shower most days. The stage I really dread is when I have serious trouble getting to the toilet, which has never happened too much for too long but is nasty when it occurs at all.

    What's the needle trigger point therapy, is it anything to do with medical acupuncture? I'd love to try the latter, but I'm not well enough to go out for treatments, plus I have no idea if I could get it on the NHS and I can't afford it privately. Coincidentally, I've had what I think is a nasty trigger point or something building up in my left shoulder this last week, combining with hormones to set off a really delightful migraine, and while attempting to rub it and so forth, I've caught myself wishing I could try a needle on it. Nothing else seems to be getting rid of it, I've tried the therapy balls and a bit of self-massage and heat, not to mention painkillers/muscle relaxants, and it's still thoroughly knotted up.

    I've recently realised that despite knowing it's a bad idea, I somehow managed to internalise some of the graded exercise nonsense. When I do manage to start little exercise regimes, I've always tried to build up what I can do and envisaged continuing that process. What I should really do, when I'm definitely up to exercising, is keep it at a bare minimum necessary for whatever benefits I'm looking for (circulation, keeping my legs in practice enough that I can get down the stairs when I need to) and not go past that. Apart from occasional attempts at separate exercise, since all physical exertion counts as a form of exercise, the more I can learn about what is safe and what is exhausting, the better I can pace myself.
     
  7. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    People are so different Calathea. For example I can't take showers at all (I faint) - thats just an example of how many different complicating factors people can have with different results and limitations. Know what you mean about the toilet though.

    I'm a survivor of two seperate exercise programs and it took me over 20 years to learn and accept my limits. Even though the first program (back in the original days of "keep pushing") made me much, much worse when I have improved a little finally after 10 years or so I was still willing to try and build up my exercise again using the "new improved" version. The results were of course, distasterous. Since then I have been much more accepting of my limits.

    The needle therapy is done with accupunture needles but that is where the similarites end. Homeopathic Hopsital in London has a Muscular-skeletal Consultant who does this. Sorry to hear about the new pain. Sometimes nothing seems to work and that's just horrible.
     
  8. salome

    salome

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    magnesium oil

    it has been helping me with pain.

    i recommend trying it. i've read general population is deficient in magnesium for many many reasons. that taking capsules/pills doesn't make up the deficit. applying the mag oil gets it into the system.

    i had to order magnesium oil online. i got Ancient Minerals brand.

    i am walking with less pain. a chronic low back problem impeding movement and causing pain has improved.

    the mag oil is not expensive and well worth a trial.

    you apply it to pain sites, or put it in bath. can rinse it off after 20 mins or keep it on. it has an odd feel to i've come to like because i associate it with relief. Salome
     
  9. hurtingallthetimet

    hurtingallthetimet Senior Member

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    trust me i hate going outside home for anything espically in crowds for many reasons...anxiety social phobias panic attack and the pain and fatigue...it does ALWAYS make it worse....like most i know with fibro/cfs and other illness it causes more pain and fatigue...but i do it because i feel like its one of last things i have some control over doing...if that makes any sense? and its a form of a little exercise at least in my mind...i use to be so thin and fit...and to me its doing something...and the doctor praises me on it and lifts my spirts some..but on the really really bad days wehn id love to use the electric buggy as doctor suggested the pain and fatigue is worse and i usally cry everyday anyways from it all...but ive had a very negative treatment by others when i become ill and it really tramatized me and i really believe i had a breakdown....i lost job had to quit...lost friends...overheard them making fun of the "fake illness" alot of issues..

    i know i have issues i need to get over and im working with psych doctors and counselours on that...i dont know the doctors always tell us to exercise and i know i should but i really cant not like i use to...im lucky to walk some stopping in between...i dont understand how people who are this ill exercise alot...its great that they do i suppose but i cant understand how they do it....
     

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