I recently came across Mark J. Pellegrino, MD, and was completely fascinated by the concept of fibronomics. Fibronomics is an interesting term related to how we move our body when we have fibromyalgia. It’s like ergonomics with a FM twist. Pellegrino, who coined the term, has had FM since childhood.
Here are some of Pellegrino’s best fibronomics tips:
1. When changing a lightbulb, hold up your elbow with your opposite hand to give it support, while standing on a stool or ladder to get closer to the lightbulb. This example made so much sense to me. I never would have thought of that.
2. For driving a prolonged distance, switch your hands between the 10:00 and 2:00 position, and the 4:00 and 8:00 positions. This technique helps those of us with FM avoid getting too stiff while driving.
3. When you’re washing dishes, put a foot on a stool or open the door to the cabinet underneath, and rest your foot on the shelf. It will take some stress off your back. It’s also helpful to use a dish scrubber with a long handle so you don’t have to bend over so much.
4. When applying makeup, set a magnifying mirror on a table. That way you don’t have to bend over a sink to get close enough to the mirror, or tip your head back while applying makeup. Personally, I just use lipstick. It’s been a long time since I wore any makeup.
Pellegrino’s four rules of fibronomics are as follows: Arms stay home. Unload the back. Support always welcome. Be naturally shifty
How does that look on a practical basis in our daily lives?
Whatever job or chore you’re doing, keep your arms below your shoulders, elbows touching your side. One way to do this while cleaning your bathtub would be to use a mop to wash the tub and surrounding tile, rinse and you’re done. Make use of stools and/or step ladders when you can to keep your arms at home.
When sitting, use a foot rest to take pressure off your back. You can also alternate crossing your legs. Just keep shifting your position.
With dusting you can use a long-handled dusting tool. I have one with an adjustable handle that makes dusting so much easier! For cleaning ceiling fans, you could stand on a stepladder and use a hair dryer to blow off the dust.
If you spill something on the floor, rather than bending over to wipe it up, use a towel and your foot to wipe up the mess.
I have an issue with bending over my washer to get the clothes out to put them in the dryer. I use an assisted grabber device to help with that, so I don’t hurt my back or aggravate my shoulder/arm pain.
Using a step stool to get at things in upper cupboards is something I should do more frequently. Store in such places only things you don’t need to use often. For heavy lifting, I get my husband to help. I also use my grabber tool to reach things I’m not worried about dropping or breaking.
Moving and shifting our position and muscles regularly make a difference as well. I set an alarm to go off every 45 minutes, and I stop what I’m doing — even when it’s just laying in bed — and walk around and do some gentle stretching. It keeps my muscles from tensing so much, and helps with the pain.
Pellegrino’s book, Fibromyalgia: Up Close and Personal covers this topic and more. He has written at least 10 books on the subject.
I would love to hear your thoughts and some ideas you may have tried.
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