Coping with muscle tension

Image: Beauty is a Light in the Heart

Here is an extract of an article I wrote for New Life Outlook on coping with muscle stiffness/tension/tightness. Call it what you will.

Experiencing muscle tension is a very common symptom for fibromyalgia patients. Many of us wake up feeling stiff and sore so learning to relax our muscles and ease that tension should be a very important part of our coping strategy.

As with most things related to fibromyalgia, it’s all about finding what works for you. Isn’t that so frustrating?! No quick fix and no one size fits all, but, once you’ve found a way to keep more supple you will notice the benefits immediately.

As muscle tightness eases, you become more flexible and therefore more capable of moving around. Improved movement helps us to feel mentally stronger so that even if the physical pain hasn’t eased, we feel more capable of coping with it.

Here are the top five ways I ease muscle tightness and tension.

1. Yoga

I tried yoga for the first time a few weeks ago. I’d been wary because it often relies on holding uncomfortable poses for long periods of time, something I knew I would struggle with – and probably later regret. I started a one-to-one course with a woman who lived locally; I told her about my condition and she explained she had worked with many fibromyalgia patients who had felt benefits from yoga.

It’s important to find someone who knows about fibromyalgia and really ‘gets it’ so that you can get the most out of your teacher. Last week she said something that really caught my attention. She said, “The body wants to rest, it knows how to rest, but you’re the one that keeps getting in the way.” So true.

As I lay on the floor with my knees bent and my palms facing up, I tried to think of the last time I lay down and did nothing. The only time I ever lie down is in bed, and even then I don’t lie flat. I lie on my side or on my stomach – often with a hot water bottle balanced on my lower back. It doesn’t relax my body in the way that this did.

The gentle movements and opportunities to rest eased my muscle tension and I felt like I had found a new level of relaxation. Unfortunately, I haven’t sustained it. My struggle with yoga is a mental struggle; I feel like I want to achieve something and in yoga those achievements take too long to materialize. I guess I’m the one that doesn’t get it.

Check out my four other suggestions for muscle tension over on New Life Outlook.