There are many reasons why using Pilates is effective for conditioning or rehabilitation of a client with Fibromyalgia. Pilates is a low impact program that focuses not only on core strength and stability, but the use of breathing and breath work. Breathing oxygenates blood and increases circulation to all regions of the body. With recent studies showing that breathing while incorporated during exercise can increase relaxation of muscles and thus avoid undue tension, the use of Pilates is a “no brainer”.
A strong tendency for those suffering from Fibromyalgia is to “disconnect” from their body. Pilates’ emphasis on the connection of the mind to the body, can also be a huge benefit. Clients’ ability to participate in an exercise program from which there is no exacerbation of symptoms can greatly improve their sense of well being. From a musculoskeletal standpoint, it also allows for the improvement in articular mobility of the spine in a very gentle and supported environment.
Hypermobility has been reported to be an additional factor affecting clients with Fibromyalgia. There is a greater tendency for the muscles to rotate, causing imbalances and trigger points. (Travell and Simmons 1983)
Key areas of focus for this type of program design are primarily endurance, posture and managing fatigue. One strategy for optimizing the exercise experience for the client is timing their sessions earlier in the day. By starting the day with an oxygenating breathing-focused routine, the onset of fatigue can be pushed back in some cases.
Clients with FMS will improve best with personalized programs, which can be accomplished with Pilates. The focus should be on gentle stretching exercises and on deep, core stabilization work for both pelvic and scapula stabilization.