Physical therapy and individually approved exercise programs are becoming important parts of standard myositis treatment plans. Doctors recognize the value of these programs to improve physical activity, quality of life, and to reduce disability.
Even a modest increase in daily activity can provide benefits. Find an activity or exercise that is both appropriate for your own level of function and enjoyable for you - for example, walking, gardening, resistance training, or swimming. Exercises can easily be adapted as needed. Always check with your doctor or therapist to be sure the program is right for you.
Some general guidelines when exercising:
- Warm up. This gradually increases blood flow and heart rate.
- Exercise to a rate of exertion that you find somewhat challenging but not overly difficult.
- Cool down to allow your body to gradually recover.
Do not continue exercises if you experience severe pain or have uncontrolled high blood pressure or irregular heart beat.
If you're looking for a set of exercises applicable to everyone with myositis, you won't find it. "Every patient is different," says Michael Harris-Love, DSc, "and the same patient is even different from day to day." Physical therapists can help.
Physical therapists will ask what you do in the course of a day. Taking care of a home, garden or children require a good deal of physical activity, and therapists determine what you need to do to continue these activities and what can be added to these normal routines to provide therapeutic benefits.
- Start slowly and gradually build up.
- Err on the side of caution-if you feel you might be overdoing it, step back.
- Don't get discouraged. You will likely have good days and bad days. Develop a routine you can do on both.
- Work out with a partner.
Rehabilitation specialists recommend aquatherapy for patients with muscle disease.
For a full review of exercise, including aquatherapy and hand therapy, see the presentation of John Bargas and Diane Johnson of the Banner Clinic in Phoenix.
Updated March 2012