Exercise helps Sheffield woman fight ‘invisible illness’

Claire Bamford
Claire Bamford
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A Sheffield exercise instructor who suffers with constant pain caused by an ‘invisible illness’ is using physical activity to help her manage the condition.

Clare Bamford, of Wincobank, was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – a long-term syndrome that causes pain all over the body – after being involved in a road accident three years ago.

The 39-year-old, who works for Fitness Unlimited at Hillsborough Leisure Centre, suffers with all-over stiffness but regular exercise is helping her live with the pain.

She said: “From a young age I have always been active, doing dance, tap, ballet and fitness classes.

“I’d always wanted to teach fitness and, in 2001, I joined Fitness Unlimited and took my qualifications before completing further specialist training in aqua, Step and Pilates classes.”

A year later, Clare was involved in a road traffic accident and was subsequently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which affects how the central nervous system processes pain messages and can be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event.

“After the accident, I started to get the pain all over, in my back, knees, hands and elbows and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It’s a very strange condition because, to look at me, you wouldn’t realise there was anything wrong, but it’s extremely debilitating. It’s like an invisible illness.”

Not wanting to let it beat her, Clare started back at work and is now using exercise to manage the pain and help others with the same condition.

“The pain is worse in the morning and when I sit down for any length of time so exercise, especially water-based classes, is the best thing for me and helps me keep the pain at bay and continue doing what I love – teaching.

“I take aqua sessions for all ages from 16 to 90 at Hillsborough. They are very popular and really help people, like me, who are suffering with Fibromyalgia or other joint problems because the water relieves the pressure.

“Like me, they also benefit from the Pilates classes I teach at Hillsborough and Yoga sessions at Concord Sports Centre.

“I love what I do and want to spread the word that no one should live in pain. Physical activity can improve your lifestyle and health and wellbeing.”

For more information visit www.fitnessunlimited.co.uk.