Movement: Why it’s key to recovery from ME, CFS & Fibromyalgia


Movement is vital to recovery

Movement is one of the 8 key areas that I work with when supporting a client to recovery from a chronic fatigue condition.  For some, it will be a higher priority than for others.  It all depends on what phase of the recovery process they are in, and their personal circumstances.

It’s a pretty big broad subject heading “Movement”.  New clients often ask me “What do I mean by movement?”  The answer is usually, “Whatever is comfortable and appropriate for you”.

This isn’t me skirting around the subject or being evasive, it’s a recognition that energy levels can vary so much for my clients that it’s really important to take into account exactly what is going on for them at that moment in time.  Many clients have energy levels that fluctuate daily and leave them feeling disheartened and frustrated.

There isn’t a set of defined expectations around movement.  I prefer to work with my clients in a way which encourages them to undertake some form of movement on a regular basis.  The aim is to help their body to retain the ability to move.

What does “appropriate and comfortable” mean?

For a bed bound client, this may mean taking up the very gentle breathing exercises associated with yoga nidra.  It may sound simple, but when energy reserves are so severely depleted that a client spends most of their time in bed, this form of exercise may be all that they are able to do at that point in time.  There are fantastic benefits of working with the breath and learning to connect with different breathing patterns.  It strengthens the lungs, expands and contracts the ribcage and moves the diaphragm up and down – activities that most people take for granted.  It also has the added benefit of providing a focus for your mind – it’s very difficult to be anxious or stressed when you are concentrating on breathing in and out – try it out for yourself!!

As the recovery process gets going, a bed bound client may be able to carry out some very gentle yoga stretches whilst lying in bed.   Over time, as strength and energy increase, the client might progress to being able to do some gentle yoga exercises out of bed.  Sometimes clients go on to attend yoga classes, sometimes they continue their yoga practice at home.

It’s not all about yoga!

Of course, movement doesn’t have to be about yoga!  I recently worked with a lady who really missed the long walks she used to take with her husband.  When we first started walking together, this client’s energy levels were very low.  She only had the energy to walk down the path to the front gate.  My client would then pause for a moment to rest before turning around to walk back into the house.

Over the months that we worked together, my client was able to increase the distance she walked. She did this really gently by taking a few steps further down the road, if she felt able to do so.  Then she would turn around to come home.  My client knew a short walk around the block, and slowly built up to being able to do this route.  Her next stage was to add little detours to this trip around the block.  She slowly increased the distance she felt was comfortable and appropriate for her to walk.  12 months later on my client and her husband have got a puppy, so that he can be part of their regular walks.  She if feeling so much stronger.

Movement with a plan
Plan your movements

Of course, there were ups and downs along the way and there is still some work to do to reach her goal of going on long walks.  But this is such a dramatic turn around from 12 months ago.  It really shows the power of working with a recovery programme and the benefit of sticking with a long-term plan.  We very often expect ourselves to be able to do better, to be able to do more and to be able to do it right now!  We talk ourselves out of carrying on if we don’t see huge impacts straight away.

Supporting recovery over the long run

Many people with ME, Fibromyalgia and CFS have been unwell for years.  It’s going to take a little time for our bodies to become well again.  Having a long-term plan, and a support network rooting for you to achieve that plan, is really helpful.

It’s such a privilege to be a part of the journey that people take to get their health back.  I absolutely love hearing about the ups (and downs!) because they really do help to keep us on track.

Movement walking on a beach
Footsteps on a beach

Within the Chrysalis Effect, we have a Recoverers Support Facebook group – it’s an amazing forum.  I love seeing the photos taken when a recoverer is able to share one of their “ups”.  Photos of views seen while out walking, or a day trip out somewhere they have wanted to get to for a while or even photos of holidays. These are all examples of different types of movement that weren’t a possibility before they joined the Online Recovery Programme.  The great news is that what was an impossibility is now a reality!

Recovers also share their experiences of when they have maybe done a bit too much and are feeling disheartened by a relapse. There is huge support, by the bucket load, in the Facebook group with encouragement and advice as others share their experiences.   The best bit is knowing that whatever you are going through, you aren’t alone – there is always someone out there who is having a similar struggle or who has overcome something similar.

Get your life back

It really is 100% possible to recover from M.E, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and this includes having the strength and the energy to get back to moving how are used to move before .

If you would like to move more, to have more energy or to begin your recovery journey, then get in touch.

You can

  • email me on Suzanne or via my webpage Reconnecting You or
  • speak to me on 07973 305093 or
  • message me on Facebook at ReconnectingYou