Painting depicting the pain of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain, auto-immune disorder that affects somewhere between six and twelve million people in the U.S.*—primarily women between the ages of 25 and 50. Often mistaken for other illnesses, fibromyalgia is characterized by muscle aches, pain and stiffness, general fatigue and problems sleeping. Symptoms may also include headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, painful periods, numbness or tingling in the legs or arms and hands, restless leg syndrome, and memory problems. With so many different symptoms, it can be difficult to obtain a diagnosis because no one knows what causes it, and there are no objective diagnostic tests.

In addition, it can be difficult to find an exercise program that will help a person with fibromyalgia to function with less pain or improve her overall health. Pilates, because it is gentle, highly individualized, and flexible to the needs of each person, is an ideal form of exercise. Pilates’ low impact approach to improving core strength and circulation can increase muscle relaxation, providing relief from muscle pain, as well as improving overall sense of well being.

In addition, Pilates emphasizes the mind-body connection, a particularly important component for those suffering from fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases, because of their strong tendency to disconnect from their bodies.

In a small pilot study conducted in 2009 by Lale Altan, MD, the researchers found that those who participated in a regular Pilates exercise program improved significantly in terms of pain reduction and reduced symptoms. The researchers concluded: “We suggest Pilates as an effective and safe method for people with FMS.”

Do you or does someone you know suffer from fibromyalgia or other chronic disease? Pilates exercise may help. Leave a comment or contact the studio for more information about designing an exercise program to meet your unique needs.

* The National Fibromyalgia Association, Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)
Image Credit: Samantha Kira Harding