We are often told activities such as yoga and tai chi are good choices for people with fibromyalgia. Our doctors or any other health care provider involved share this information with us in hopes that it will help ease our fibromyalgia. We rarely stop to question this information because all we want is some relief from the excruciating pain. However, do these activities really help improve fibromyalgia symptoms?
I was one of those people who thought yoga could possibly help benefit me instead of allowing my pain levels to run my life. I immediately went out and bought a few books on yoga – beginners yoga and yoga for chronic pain. I also looked up yoga videos on Youtube. Now, I am not a yoga fanatic, in fact I find it boring instead of relaxing. I tried to get into yoga before my fibromyalgia diagnosis and never was successful. However, I thought if it would help relieve the pain, why not try to learn to like it. I was desperate for any relief I could find. I soon realized I couldn’t get into most of the yoga poses without extreme pain. I eventually gave up. I started researching yoga recently as I thought about trying it again. I found some interesting facts about yoga and fibromyalgia. Does yoga really help fibromyalgia!!?
Yoga is often recommended because it is a gentle intervention to help stretch tight muscles and joints. Yoga can also help build up strength. According to a study in 2011, participants didn’t report a reduction of pain and fatigue caused by their fibromyalgia. In 2013, an analysis revealed yoga helped reduce sleep disturbances, depression and improved their quality of life. However, again researchers concluded there was not enough evidence to confirm a link between yoga and reduced fibromyalgia symptoms. As far as I can see, there has been no further studies done on yoga and fibromyalgia
Conclusion – there is not enough evidence to prove yoga is an effective treatment option for fibromyalgia relief. Don’t get me wrong, yoga does have it’s benefits, but is yoga really the right route for people with fibromyalgia!? If it hasn’t actually been proven by scientists to help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms why are we being recommended to take part in yoga!? With inconclusive findings, researchers state yoga MAY help relieve fibromyalgia pain, but there is no solid proof! I would suggest try yoga to see if it benefits you. If it does, continue to take part in yoga!
Tai chi on the other hand has proof it is an effective activity to help fibromyalgia symptoms. Tai chi combines meditation, deep breathing and gentle slow motions. For myself I found tai chi too slow for my liking. I could never really get into the flow. Maybe this is because I find meditation exercises and deep breathing very difficult to do. Meditation requires a great deal of concentration which I lack. The study concluded that tai chi is as effective as aerobic exercises – if not a better choice for relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. The participants in this study filled out questionnaires at the end of the study. The information collected on the questionnaires reported decreased fibromyalgia symptoms – improvements in pain intensity, fatigue, physical function, depression, anxiety, morning tiredness and over all well being.
My thought is even if there is not proven findings that yoga helps your fibromyalgia symptoms – if you find it helps your fibromyalgia, keep doing it! Everyone will benefit differently from each and every route tried. After all, all we want is some relief from the constant pain. There are many videos on yoga for fibromyalgia on Youtube that you can access for free.
Here are the links to the studies carried out on yoga and tai chi:
Yoga study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22398352/
Tai Chi study