I have a client with Fibromyalgia who wants to do some stretches on the ball for pain control. He has been dismissed from the doctor. Can you help me with any suggestions about stretching or program design?
This is potentially a much more serious condition than most people realize, so I feel I must address the disease as well as your question regarding stretching and exercising to make sure you get a thoroughly holistic view for a total possible solution. First, let's examine a couple definitions...
- Fibromyalgia - Any of a group of nonarticular rheumatic disorders characterized by pain, tenderness and stiffness of muscles and associated connective tissue structures called also fibromyositis (Source: Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.)
- Any painful disorder of the joints or muscles or connective tissues.
- A chronic autoimmune disease with inflammation of the joints and marked deformities; something (possibly a virus) triggers an attack on the synovium by the immune system, which releases cytokines that stimulate an inflammatory reaction that can lead to the destruction of all components of the joint. [syn: rheumatoid arthritis, atrophic arthritis]
- (Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University)
So, as you can deduce from these definitions, Fibromyalgia has indeed been found to be an autoimmune disorder, which generally means that for one and likely many reasons listed below, your client's immune system is attacking his own body tissues, resulting in his mysterious and likely random pain symptoms. Unfortunately, conventional medicine has said this is a disorder of "unknown etiology" and continues to treat with powerfully toxic prescription medications, which ironically enough may be contributing to the disease state! (FYI - You may want to investigate whether or not your client is currently taking any prescription drugs, and if so, locate a list(s) of the known side effects. You may be shocked to find those side effects paralleled with his symptoms of Fibromyalgia.)
The logical next question is, "Why is your client's immune system attacking his body?" I have mentioned leaky gut syndrome several times in past Q&A articles, and it bears detailing here once again. The following excerpt(s) come from the C.H.E.K Institute's Level 2 Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching certification course manual, sec. 7, pg. 18-23. As you read through this, keep in mind that 90 percent of all disease has been found to begin in the colon!
Leaky gut results in separation of tight junctions between the cells of the gut wall. In leaky gut undigested or partially digested food particles may cross the gut wall, activating the immune system. The particles that cross the gut wall undigested become antigens. They invoke a specific immune antibody response when coming in contact with specific cells. Normally, your first line of defense against antigens is the secretory IgA [Immunoglobulin A] antibodies found in your mucus membranes, which line your entire digestive and respiratory tracts. The IgA antibodies line the digestive system, protecting their territory much like the Native American Indians protected their territory from the cowboys in the old days. When an invading cowboy (antigen) tried to impose upon the Indian's (sIgA) territory, the Indian would respond, protecting his territory. Later, if the cowboys continued to come back in larger numbers, the Indians would put more warriors on the job. As the number of cowboys invading the Indian village (enteral system) increased, the amount of damage done trying to win the war increased. Finally, as in a bad case of leaky gut, if the cowboys continue to come in large numbers, they will overpower the Indians. In this analogy, the cowboys represent food antigens, arriving every meal in the presence of leaky gut. Paradoxically, as described by Lopez, Williams and Miehlke in "Enzymes, The Foundation for life," when the number of immune complexes entering the blood stream reaches a certain point, the antibody system shuts down; there is a reduction in the activity of macrophages and phagocytes! [These are cells which surround/engulf immune complexes and digest them rendering them harmless] The immune complexes find their way into joint tissues, organ tissues, nerve tissues and about anywhere they can get via the micro-circulatory system. The result is activation of the compliment system. An enzyme system compose of what are referred to as killer enzymes. These enzymes seek out immune complexes imbedded in tissues and destroy them. The problem is that they are not specific to the immune complex, they attack the immune complex and the tissues they are imbedded in! The result is identical to an autoimmune disorder. Prolonged activation of the complement system causes chronic inflammation and chronic pain. Unfortunately, the common prescription for chronic inflammatory pain coming from such situations as describe here (which are very common today!) is anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone. Cortisone is an immune suppressant which only serves to further immobilize the immune system while the complement system continues to do its destructive handy-work. The pain killers so often used allow the patient to ignore the ongoing degradation of their own tissues. Eventually, cancer, autoimmune disorders and any number of diseases will present themselves. It's just a matter of time if a natural, functional alternative is not presented in adequate time!
Next question, "What's causing the leaky gut?"
This can be, and likely is, manifesting due to a combination of factors. Stress is the primary answer. There are five forms of stress listed below. Any one or combination of these is powerful enough to cause a tough case of leaky gut syndrome.
- Physical Stress - Can occur in the presence of an injury, poor posture or degeneration.
- Chemical Stress - Related to toxic substances such as industrial pollution(s).
- Electromagnetic - Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are everywhere including microwaves, computers, electronics, lights, etc.
- Psychic stress - Mental, emotional, spiritual.
- Nutritional Stress - Poor quality and quantity of micro/macronutrients.
Of these five sources of stress, a few of the most common causes of leaky gut are:
- Gluten containing grains (such as wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelt, teff, kamut, amaranth, couscous, quinoa) for those individuals that are gluten sensitive (60 percent of Caucasians have been found to have gluten sensitivity!) and dairy - particularly processed/non-organic. In fact, I would highly recommend that your client try an elimination strategy with these two foods whereby he would remove both of these completely from his diet for two to four weeks. If he notices any improvement in any capacity, avoid them indefinitely.
- Avid consumption of processed foods such as sugar, soy and hydrogenated oils. Start reading labels - this garbage is added to countless processed so-called "foods." For more on this, read my article series “Dear God, Don't Eat That!”
- Avid consumption of conventionally (non-organically) raised/grown foods, which can contain residues of any number of the now known 10-15,000 chemicals added from ground to stomach that the governments have labeled "Generally Regarded as Safe." For more on this, read Paul Chek's Q&A article on “ADD & ADHD - A Modern Epidemic!”
- Not eating according to one’s metabolic type. For more on this, read my Q&A article “Metabolic Typing” as well as the book "The Metabolic Typing Diet" by Wolcott and Fahey.
- General toxicity due to pesticides, industrial pollution, plastics, paints, carpets, water, etc. You may find the book "Detoxify or Die" by Rogers, M.D. to be useful.
- Parasite and fungal infections which can cause/mimic virtually any disease state particularly Fibromyalgia. A great book on this topic is "The Fungus Link" by Kaufmann. Also read Paul Chek's Q&A article on “Candida.”
Next, your client would benefit greatly from immediately implementing the foundational health principles listed below. Please keep in mind that these principles are fundamental. In order for any treatment plant to "take root" and have a permanently positive effect, these principles must be in place!
- Eat for Your Metabolic Type. Your heredity dictates the ratios of carbs, proteins and fats one must eat for optimum health.
- Eat Organic When Possible. As much as 40 times more nutrient dense and raised/grown free of countless toxins that our government now "Generally Regards as Safe."
- Four Day Rotation Diet. In its most basic form, an individual eats food(s) no more often than every four days, which prevents the immune system from being overworked by food sensitivities.
- Avoid Processed Foods. Avoid 10,000 added food chemicals/toxins/poisons, as well as dead nutrition. Faulty nutrition has clearly been shown to cause virtually every symptom/ailment known to man.
- Avoid Circadian Stress.
- Circadian cycles are natural 24 hour physiological cycles that persist despite any absence of the external environment. See my Q&A articles on “Cortislim” and “Stress & Exercise.”
- Be in bed between 10pm-6am for adequate physical and mental repair.
- Drink Water. 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces daily with a pinch of unrefined sea salt in each liter to avoid dehydration. Avoid tap water as Fluoride and Chlorine are extremely toxic to the body. Dehydration can cause and contribute to virtually any disease state with no exception of Fibromyalgia.
Your client can/will also benefit from consulting with some sort of qualified holistic medical professional whom can perform specific metabolic test to determine what system(s) in your client's body need repair. Here are a few options I trust and have referred others to:
In regards to your question about exercise, it is important to understand that being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is a serious sign that the body needs time to rest, heal and recover. Your client's digestive system, immune system and hormonal system (as well as others) have been/are under great stress. Any exercise that is too aggressive will rob healing energy, blood and it's nutrients from the internal organs that desperately need them and send them to the appendages, creating a deficiency and hence more unneeded stress. A "TLC" approach should be taken with a "corrective" flexibility program as well as chi (life energy) building exercises such as deep breathing and meditation to regain "life force" as the cornerstone(s). To determine how intense your exercise programming should/can be, your client's total body stress load must be assessed (it will undoubtedly be high do the disease). If you've no training/experience in performing these basic assessments, fear not. The book "How to Eat, Move & Be Healthy!" by Paul Chek has a complete self-assessment system for nutrition, exercise and lifestyle factors that will allow you and your client to assess total body stress load and set up a baseline for his programming. I simply cannot be any more specific than this – it all depends on the assessment(s). I cannot stress enough how important it is that you, your client and in my opinion all health and fitness professionals who are unfamiliar with the topics discussed in this article read this book. The $25 dollar investment can/will come back to you ten-fold.
- Hittner, N. The Brutal Truth On: Nutrition, Exercise, & Lifestyle. Audio CD Series & Program Manual. FOUR HEALTH Consulting (available at www.fourhealth.info), 2005.
- Wolcott, W. "To Succeed At Any Diet, You Must Know Your Metabolic Type." (Parts 1 & 2) Online. www.mercola.com, Internet. 2002.