Whenever I hear people on Facebook and websites talk about the pain and muscular discomfort they’re feeling, my heart really, really goes out to them. The muscular pains were a constant reminder of my illness from the second I woke up to the moment I went to bed. I always used to wake up and be able to tell instantly how many day was going to be. If you wake up and you’re not feeling too bad, you immediately start planning how you’re going to use your new-found energy, until either fear sets in and tells you to stay where you are (just in case) or you ignore your pain completely, run around for a little while, then collapse on the sofa, nauseous and absolutely exhausted. There was also a period when I started to ignore my muscle pain and just blame my bed(!) for my condition. Although there’s a chance your bed might have something to do with (I can recommend the best mattress in the world if anyone would like me to!), if the pain is ongoing throughout the day, it’s a clear sign that something’s not right.
Even if you’re on the way up from CFS/Fibromyalgia, muscular pain can still come back to haunt you at the strangest moments. I remember plucking up the courage to go to my first yoga class in years only to be paralysed with fear that the slightest muscle flexing (which inevitably you have to do in yoga) meant that I’d regret going to class the morning after. My brain was convinced that all this bending and stretching was actually pain and not seeing it for what it really was, a few parts of my body waking up from a bit of a slumber after they hadn’t been used in a while. I knew instinctively that this wasn’t CFS muscle pain, but my brain told me otherwise. I got through the class, but rushed home and lay on the sofa all evening, just in case. I woke up and was absolutely fine, but I didn’t go back to yoga for months, terrified that that would be the time my muscles finally gave up and had me bed-bound again.
After a lot of trial and error, here are list of 6 ways to relieve muscle pain in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, when you’re paralysed with discomfort and/or if you’re experiencing muscle spasms:
1) Take magnesium supplements and/or take occasional baths with Epsom salts
Epsom salts are fantastic magnesium boosters and I find it so relaxing just to lie back and know that my body will be revitalised afterwards (this is also great even if you don’t have CFS or Fibromyalgia!) You can put it into the bath with your normal bubble bath or bath salts for a bit more luxury. Magnesium also helps with getting restful sleep, so having a bath with Epsom salts before bed can really help with this. I used to get terrible Restless Leg Syndrome and these baths, together with magnesium supplements, were fantastic.
However! Make sure that you drink lots of water after your bath- this helps to flush out toxins after the magnesium has done it’s thing. You can maybe schedule your bath a few hours before bed to avoid running to the loo all night!
2) Distract yourself with something silly, stupid and full of fun
I know what you’re thinking- so, I just have to watch a film and it’ll make everything better? Not exactly, but when we’re really ill, we might be tempted to fall into that ‘woe is me’ mindset. Allow yourself to think these thoughts and move through this, but films, music and books can be amazing ways to instantly get out of your head and therefore distract your thoughts (and therefore the feeling in your body) away from the pain you’re going through. Click below for some inspiration:
3) Indulge in a little Meditation
I know you’re probably sick of me talking about meditation, but it has really helped me to focus and gain clarity. Meditation during my illness also helped me to focus on something other than my illness and feeling rubbish, however this takes practice! I used to hate sitting there with my thoughts- I’m always there, in my own head, in my body- my thoughts drove me nuts. Meditation creates a sense of separateness and creates space for your brain and therefore your body to breath a little. It’s free and it’s one thing you can do for yourself right now.
To really ramp up your meditation, close your eyes and picture your body in a bubble of golden light. Some people’s light might change to white, pale pinky-purple or a golden orange colour, and that’s completely fine- you are unique and your body will guide you to your ‘healing colour’. If you have discomfort in a particular area, you can also create a bubble over the area and do the same. You don’t have to sit for hours in meditation- set a timer, give yourself 5 minutes, then build it up. What have you got to lose?
4) Use affirmations
Along with these affirmations for energy and vitality, try a few of these. Find one that resonates with you or create your own:
+ “I am safe. I am at peace”
+ “I relax and trust the process of life”
+ “I breathe in all of life. I love life and life loves me”
+ “Life is full of joy and fun”
+ “I love and accept myself completely as I am”
5) Don’t be afraid of incredibly gentle exercise
I am a true believer in gentle exercise, even if it’s just a bit of stretching in bed. Be very, very careful however- if something feels too much for you then stop exercising. Personally speaking, I realised that the days when I had trouble sleeping were the days when I really hadn’t move a muscle, literally. As you read above, I then became too scared to move or do anything remotely like exercise and my muscle didn’t enjoy complete zero-movement.
Try this before-bed yoga routine courtesy of the beautiful Tara Stiles. If it’s too much for you remember to listen to you body- slow down the routine, sit the poses out or adapt it to how you’re feeling.
6) Treat yourself- go for a massage
Do not feel guilty for really treating yourself. If you feel too sore, make sure you tell the practitioner about your condition or be sure to go for a gentle relaxation massage instead of a deep tissue massage (for some reason, deep tissue massages are a bit much for me and I always opt for the relaxation ones with oil, aromatherapy- the works!) Get someone to take you and pick you up if you’re not able to get there yourself. You can even do a search for mobile massage practitioners in your area if you’re not feeling up to heading out or are too tired to leave your bed.
I really hope these help you my darling. Let me know of any ways you’ve found of relieving muscle aches and pains- it’d be great to connect and share comments below. We’re all here as community to share and help each other out- it really helps knowing you’re not alone in this sometimes!
Love and a little relief,