Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), otherwise known as Myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a long-term condition with various symptoms – the most widespread being extreme tiredness. The condition can affect anyone, but it’s most frequent in women and usually develops between your mid-20s and mid-40s.
The most common symptoms of CFS include:
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering, and thinking
- Having trouble sleeping, resulting in frequent awakening during the night
- Struggling to recover after physical activity
- Still being exhausted after sleeping or resting
- Being constantly exhausted to the point that daily activities become extremely difficult
Every one of these symptoms can be completely debilitating, meaning that various management techniques are required to handle the day-to-day.
Movement as energy management.
The normal course of events might be to seek a doctor’s opinion of your symptoms in the hope that medicine will sort you out, accompanied by a bout of cognitive behavioural therapy (after a long wait if you are seeking help through the NHS).
Energy management is another popular form of CFS treatment. This refers to advice about how to make the best use of energy without worsening any symptoms. In many cases, movement is recommended as a form of energy management; however, it’s essential that this is carried out appropriately.
As mentioned above, CFS often leaves people struggling to recover after physical activity, meaning it helps to be properly supervised when undergoing a new and different exercise regime. For instance, high-intensity activity isn’t the way forward for someone with CFS, as this can result in the dreaded post-exertional malaise. Despite this, complete inactivity can hinder the body’s ability to handle exertion and ultimately exacerbate other symptoms. With this being said, every individual has different limits, meaning that the right type of movement needs to be recommended by an expert who understands the symptoms and impact of CFS. Regardless of a person’s situation, they should never embark on their movement journey without guidance from a professional.
Walking is the way forward.
If one thing is certain, it’s that we should never underestimate the power of walking. In fact, for someone with CFS, even leisurely strolls can be far too strenuous on the most challenging days. Despite this, on those positive days, a gentle walk can be one of the most effective forms of moving in a manageable way.
When walking with CFS, a heart rate monitor and pedometer are incredibly helpful, as these enable someone to measure the extent of activity they’re typically able to manage. Keeping track of how far one is able to travel, and at what intensity, before reaching a state of fatigue is essential to moving safely.
The floor is your friend.
Being on your feet with CFS can be exhausting; however, exercising doesn’t necessarily involve standing. In fact, floor-based strength exercises can counteract the de-conditioning of muscles that occurs when undergoing prolonged periods without movement.
One of the most effective floor exercises includes a version of a leg press, wherein the person is required to lie on their back with their knees bent at 90 degrees and their feet in the air. A resistance band is then placed under the arches of their feet, and the ends of the band are held in their hands. The tension is then regulated by the movement of the hands towards or away from the armpits.
Following this form, the person is required to bring their knees to their chest without lifting their hips off the ground and push their legs away from them against the resistance band. They should push their legs as far as they feel comfortable and then bring the knees back to the chest.
The strengthening of these leg muscles can enhance mechanical efficiency, which in turn makes daily activities easier to handle. Despite this, a person with CFS should never push themselves to a state of exhaustion, as this can exacerbate fatigue.
Pilates is your pal
Pilates is ideal for people with CFS, as it provides a gentle, whole-body workout, and it can be adapted to suit all fitness levels. Through floor exercises and stretching, Pilates results in the strengthening and toning of the body. This enhanced core strength reduces the strain on the limbs and back, which may result in less fatigue.
Bounce back with be you
At Be You Health Studios, we pride ourselves on being different from other gyms. We’ll never push you beyond your limits, and we promote gentle daily movement over intense workouts. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of CFS, we can help you get moving again in a manageable way.
Contact us to learn more.