Yoga for Fibromyalgia: 10 Strengthening Poses to Ease Chronic Pain

ujjayi breathing steps

Fibromyalgia doesn’t only seem like a complicated tongue-twister but is an even more complicated painful syndrome. The worst thing about it is, the symptoms of this disorder are not limited to pain but range quite widely. Luckily, certain yoga poses for treating fibromyalgia are there to make your way through it.

Let’s begin with understanding what it is all about, its symptoms, and the cures that yoga can provide. Continue scrolling down to find out further.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia aka fibromyalgia syndrome is a painful condition that causes excruciating musculoskeletal pain all over the body. The pain is similar to arthritis, but the only difference is that it doesn’t harm the muscles and joints.

Anyone can get affected by this disorder, however, women aged between 40-75 years are more prone to get fibromyalgia. It has been reported that about 9 out of 10 patients of fibromyalgia are women. 1

Causes of fibromyalgia

The reason or origin behind this painful condition is not clear yet, however, some sources mention that an imbalance in the neurotransmitters could be a major trigger. The brain misinterprets normal pain signals and heightens them to extremity.

People who are already under chronic stress or suffering from Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often become victims of fibromyalgia. Besides this, certain conditions like changing weather, hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, or lack of physical exercise often increases the chance of getting fibromyalgia.

Most encountered symptoms

People suffering from fibromyalgia complain pain in certain tender points in the body which are better known as “trigger points”. There are total of 18 trigger points including the knees, outer elbows, top of the shoulders, hips, back of the head, and upper neck. These points when experience mild pressure leads to gut-wrenching pain.

Apart from pain, the symptoms of fibromyalgia vary widely as it includes the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Fibro-fog, causing difficulty in brain processing
  • Insomnia

Research highlighting significance of yoga for fibromyalgia

Recent researches have proved that yoga helps as a pain-relieving practice for the patients of fibromyalgia by alleviating its major symptoms. Some of the studies that you can rely upon are mentioned below:

  1. According to a report of 2020, 2 practicing yoga postures by fibromyalgia patients focusing on improving flexibility for nine months reduces fatigue and promotes sound sleep.
  2. A 2011 study 3 claims that following a eight-week long yoga intervention reduces cortisol level and increases mindfulness which alleviates pain among women with fibromyalgia.
  3. Symptoms like tenderness, poor balance, environmental sensitivity, vigor, and limited strength have also been decreased among 53 female patients following a yoga intervention in a 2010 4 research study.

With the above-mentioned research studies, yoga is found to be an effective aid in treating fibromyalgia by soothing the nervous system. As any emotional trauma is suffice to trigger or worsen fibromyalgia pain.

The yoga stretches also promotes strength and flexibility in the muscles by improving blood circulation. It provides required nourishment and oxygen to muscles, eventually relieving muscle cramps and stiffness.

Restorative yoga poses for fibromyalgia rejuvenates the body, relieves tiredness, and fatigue. Also, it elevates the sleep quality, thus, relaxes the patients quite well.

Yoga Poses for Fibromyalgia

Yoga poses strengthening and stretching the muscles to get rid of fibromyalgia and overcoming its symptoms are documented over here.

People already suffering from a rheumatoid issue, stress, or obesity are at greater risk of this painful syndrome. Hence, let’s find out how exactly yoga helps relieve it.

1. Warrior I Pose

sun salutation B Warrior-I

Warrior I is a wide-legged standing posture involving elements of slight backbend along with rotating the torso towards one leg. This is followed by raising the arms overhead and bending the front knee.

Practicing Warrior I strengthens and stretches the back, arm, and leg muscles. The flexibility of these muscles improves and it eliminates muscle cramps. Also, it improves body balance, stamina, and concentration, thus, benefits patients with fibromyalgia.

  • Take a stance separating the legs wide-apart and placing the hands on the hips.
  • Turn your right foot 90° outwards and left foot 15° to the right to align the right heel to arch of the left foot.
  • Rotate the torso towards right and bend your right knee to align it over the ankle.
  • After finding balance, rotate your hips towards the right leg and pushing the tailbone down raise your arms overhead.
  • The palms are facing each other with fingertips pointing top the ceiling and torso remains straight.
  • Hold this pose for 30-60 minutes breathing deeply.

2. Legs up the wall

legs up the wall viparita karani variation
legs up the wall viparita karani variation. Image Source: Shutterstock

Legs up the wall is practised lying on the back and extending the legs up against the wall. It is followed by walking the heels up to raise the hips and back off the floor.

This mild inversion improves blood circulation and calms down the nervous system. It also helps in getting rid of insomnia, thus, benefits fibromyalgia patients.

  • Lie down on your back keeping the buttocks closer to the wall.
  • Extend the legs up against wall with flexed feet and heels pressed against the wall.
  • Start walking the heels up on the wall lifting the hips, lower and middle back rolling on the shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows on the floor to keep the hands on lower back to balance in this posture.
  • Keeping the head and neck neutral while breathing in this pose for about five minutes.

3. Cobra Pose

cobra pose bikram yoga
Image Source: Shutterstock

Cobra pose is a gentle backbend practised lying on the belly with hands beside pressed against the floor to lift the head, chest, and abdomen.

It stretches the front of the torso, opens the chest, and abdominal muscles. This leads to strengthening the back, improving the blood circulation around the arms, and shoulders, relieving fatigue.

  • Lie down in prone position keeping arms by the sides.
  • Draw your arms forward placing the hands on either sides of the chest and squeezing the elbows together.
  • Inhale, press the palms on the floor to lift the head, chest, and abdomen off the floor.
  • Sliding the chest forward and drop your head backward arching the back.
  • Keeping the elbows slightly bent, maintain the pose for four to five breaths.

4. Bound Angle Pose

baddha konasana (bound angle pose)
Source: Shutterstock

It is a seated posture where the soles of feet are joined and heels are pulled towards the pelvis maintaining the back integrity.

The knees are bent and stretched while holding this pose and the hips open as well, hence any stiffness is relieved trapped within the muscles. Thus, it is also practised as of the effective yoga poses in treating fibromyalgia.

  • Sit on the floor extending the legs in front.
  • Bring the soles of your feet together with heels directed towards the pelvis. The knees are outstretched and drops either side on the floor.
  • Keep your back erect and extend your arms to grab the feet.
  • Pull your feet towards the groin as far as possible.
  • The pelvis is tilted forward and spine is lengthened along with broadening the chest.
  • Gaze forward and hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds.

5. Bridge Pose

bridge pose for back pain
Image Source: Canva

It is practised lying on the back and lifting the hips and back off the floor while keeping the feet, arms, and shoulders on the floor.

Bridge pose is one of energizing yet calming yoga poses for treating fibromyalgia because it soothes the trigger points on the back by strengthening spinal muscles. Also, in this pose, the head lies below the heart that rushes blood to the nerves, relieving stress, and eliminating fatigue.

  • Lie down on your back bending the knees and placing the feet on the floor hip-width apart.
  • Keep your arms by the sides with palms facing down and fingers pointing towards the heels.
  • Inhale, pressing the palms against the floor lift the hips off the floor.
  • Rolling on your spine, come up to your shoulders, and balance the body on shoulders, arms, and feet.
  • Stay in this balancing pose for 30-60 seconds.

6. Child’s Pose

balasana (child's pose)
Image: Canva

It is assumed by sitting with folded legs keeping the upper part of the feet towards the floor and lowering the hips over the heels. From here, the torso is lengthened by walking the palms forward until the forehead rests on the floor.

This relaxes the entire body especially the mind by improving blood circulation and deep breaths allow the brain to function efficiently. Plus, relaxing in this pose, subtly stretches the arms, shoulders, back and hips that soothes the major trigger points among fibromyalgia patients.

  • From table-top pose, bring your toes together and lower your buttocks over the heels.
  • Separate your knees slightly and start walking your palms forward on the floor.
  • Lean forward lengthening the spine until the forehead rests on the floor.
  • Stay there feeling the stretch for about 30-60 seconds breathing deeply.

7. Standing forward bend

uttanasana (standing forward bend)
Image Source: canva

To practice this pose the feet are placed firmly on the floor and the torso is bent forward bringing the head into an inversion touching the shins.

It is a great stretch for the back, arms, and legs. It promotes circulation, relieves anxiety, stretches and strengthens back muscles. These effects make it a good yoga pose for fibromyalgia.

  • Stand tall lengthening the spine and keeping the arms by the sides.
  • Inhale raise your arms overhead with fingers pointing up.
  • Exhale pushing your hips back, bend forward at the hips to reach the floor with hands,
  • Let your head hang down between the arms overlapping the abdomen over the thighs and touching the forehead to the shins.
  • Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds.

8. Mountain Pose

mountain pose tadasana
Image: Canva

This is a foundational standing posture where the body weight is symmetrically distributed around the four corners of the feet. From there, the heels are lifted and arms are raised overhead balancing the body on toes keeping the core engaged.

It is a gentle stretch as well as a mindful yoga pose that draws the concentration completely over the body alignment and balance. It relaxes the mind and also helps in getting rid of sleeplessness.

  • Stand keeping the feet together and arms by the sides of the body.
  • Pull your knee caps, thighs, and abdomen up shifting the weight on to the toes.
  • Inhale, raise the arms over head keeping the core muscles engaged and lift your heels off the floor.
  • Keep the palms facing each other and balance on to the toes.
  • Exhale bringing the arms down by the side and lower heels the floor.
  • Repeat it for 5-10 times.

9. Cat-Cow Stretch

Cat-cow-pose
Image Source: Canva

Cat-cow, as the name suggest involves two complementary stretches that arches and rounds the back from a tabletop position.

It engages the entire body while stretching and strengthens the muscles deeply. The blood circulation around the spine, arms, legs, and abdominals improves. It opens the chest, relaxes the shoulders, and relieves fibromyalgia pain around tender points.

  • Come to all fours keeping knees hip-width apart and stacking wrists under shoulders.
  • Inhale, drop the spine down and raise your head, chin to look up, and tuck your tailbone.
  • Exhale, lower your head pressing your navel towards the spine round your back.
  • Tuck the chin towards the chest and gaze towards the navel.
  • Repeat it for five to six times and then release.

10. Corpse Pose

corpse pose
Supine poses – corpse pose. Image Source: Shutterstock

Corpse pose is about lying down on the back easing all the muscular tension and diving in to reach the relaxed higher meditative states.

This is a restorative posture for ending the yoga session, especially among fibromyalgia patients as it rejuvenates the body and eliminates fatigue. Also, the brain calms down with this practice which comes in handy and makes it one of the effective poses for treating fibromyalgia.

  • Lie down on your back straightening the legs on the floor.
  • Keep your arms slightly away from the body with the palms facing up and fingers curling in.
  • Relax your face and entire body focusing on your breath.
  • Close your eyes and stay there for 10-12 minutes or longer if possible.

Conclusion

Practicing these yoga poses for treating fibromyalgia is an effective, safe, and inexpensive approach. It energizing and meditative effects brings both stamina as well as mindfulness that works on alleviating symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Try to leave all your worries behind the mat to experience the pain-free and energizing effects of yoga on your condition. Dedicate some hours for your practice every day and observe the wonders that it leaves on you.

References

  1. https://www.openaccessjournals.com/articles/new-evidence-may-explain-why-conditions-such-as-fibromyalgia-affect-more-women-than-men.pdf
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338878488_Yoga_therapy_for_fibromyalgia_syndrome_A_case_report
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3160832/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568071/

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