We hear a lot about the importance of year round self care, but taking care of our health and wellbeing during the colder months maybe even more important. In particular, muscle fatigue and pain can be exacerbated for people with Muscular Dystrophy during winter.
Today I’m sharing my 8 easy self care tips to relieve muscle fatigue. These are simple things I do whenever I’m feeling rundown and experiencing muscle fatigue and pain. Hopefully, you’ll find some of these ideas helpful for easing your muscle fatigue.
Disclaimer: I am not a specialist and don’t claim to be one. I am sharing my own personal tips on how I manage muscle fatigue as someone with Muscular Dystrophy who experiences muscle fatigue regularly. Please speak to your doctor, consultant or physiotherapist if you are suffering muscle fatigue and struggling to manage it.
8 Easy Self Care Tips to Relieve Muscle Fatigue
1. Take a Hot Shower/Bath
There is nothing better than a hot shower or bath when you are feeling sore and achy. I love sitting in the shower and letting the hot water ease my sore, tired muscles. I find the hot water to be great therapy especially when I’m experiencing muscle fatigue. This is one of the reasons I love accessible lodges with hot tubs and a hot tub hoist.
Be extra kind to yourself by using your favourite pamper products. If you have a bath, why not enjoy a cosy bubble bath with lots of bubbles and your favourite muscle soak. I remember having baths as a child at my Gran’s house and her pouring in lots of Raddox muscle soak. Ah, the memories!
2. Wrap Up in a Blanket
I love a nice cosy blanket in the colder months but more so when I’m sore and tired. Wrapping a fluffy blanket around my legs while sitting in my wheelchair is pure warmth and comfort for my usually cold legs.
I always feel more relaxed when I have a blanket over my legs and I often lay a heat pad on my thighs underneath my blanket on days when my legs are sore. The heat works great at easing the pain.
3. Exercise and Stretch
Exercising may be the last thing you want to do when you have muscle fatigue. It may well have been the cause of your fatigue. That’s why it’s important to find the right balance for you rather than doing too much or not enough.
However, stretching our muscles is so important and we should aim to do it daily. Stretching can improve muscle recovery, pain, energy levels, posture as well as relax tight muscles. So it is particularly important to stretch during periods of muscle fatigue.
I do my main arm and leg stretches once a day and then additional stretches throughout the day to relieve pain and tension in my arms and neck.
4. Take Regular Rest Breaks
It may seem an obvious, easy solution but taking regular rest breaks can actually be the most difficult to implement. Trust me I know! It’s so easy to get caught up in whatever I’m doing and lose track of time, whether it’s working, or any another activity. But honestly, it is vital to stop for frequent breaks to allow our muscles time to rest and change position.
Doing any activity such as sitting at the computer for too long is putting our muscles especially the neck and shoulder in strenuous positions. I often suffer because of this so I now take regular rest breaks every 30 minutes, sometimes every 20 minutes during periods of muscle fatigue.
Simple things like making sure my arms are always resting on my armrests, pillow or table help too.
5. Tilt and Position Changes
Just like taking regular rest breaks, I also find it helps to tilt my wheelchair throughout the day. This helps take the pressure off my neck muscles and my back. It also feels good because it’s changing my position from being sat upright.
I don’t always use my headrest, but I will put it on in the evening when I’m sitting watching TV with my wheelchair tilted back. Sometimes when I’m feeling really sore and uncomfortable the best way to completely change my position is to lie in bed for a little while.
6. Eat Tasty Healthy Meals
I know I always feel better and have more energy when I’m eating well. A balanced and varied diet is best as it provides a range of nutrients and vitamins. This as well as getting the right balance of calorie intakes helps with energy levels.
Massage therapy works wonders at relieving my sore muscles. The warmth from the hands and gentle kneading of my muscles and soft tissue feels amazing and almost instantly reduces muscle tension. It also forces me to stop whatever I’m doing and just relax and enjoy. Massage also helps improve circulation, joint mobility and reduces stress. Perfect!
8. Get Enough Sleep
Poor sleep patterns can have an effect on energy levels so having a good nights sleep is key. But more so for people with muscle weakness like Muscular Dystrophy. This is because our bodies need the vital rest during sleep in order of our muscles to recover and repair.
Any type of activity as well as repetitive or high energy tasks will put a lot of strain on our muscles. When our muscles are fatigued they need time to recover/reset. Whenever I am experiencing muscle fatigue, I make sure I get more sleep. The perfect reason to sleep in late.
Why I’ve Learnt How to Reduce Muscle Fatigue
Many of the tips above have been given to me over the years from my Neuromuscular Physiotherapist who is a wonderful source of help and support. I have implemented them into my daily routine, but as Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive muscle wasting condition, it means my needs and abilities are gradually changing over time and therefore I constantly need to adapt to new ways of doing things.
Some days are better than others, but these tips help me relieve muscle fatigue. And I hope it helps ease your muscle fatigue and pain. I am not a specialist, so please speak to your doctor, consultant or physiotherapist if you are suffering muscle fatigue and struggling to manage it.
To find out more about what muscle fatigue is, what causes muscle fatigue and more ways to manage it, read this post I wrote ‘Fatigue Management: Ways to Manage Muscle Fatigue with Muscular Dystrophy‘.
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