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Exercising with fibromyalgia.


It is difficult to study the effect of exercise on fibromyalgia. Properly designed resistance training regimens are safe and have been shown to improve FM patients’ pain tolerance. Recently, researchers have demonstrated that strength training helped to prevent a loss in muscle mass, quality, power, and strength – which are all usually accelerated in FM patients. In fact, resistance training 2-3 days per week at intensities corresponding to 8-12 repetitions to fatigue can reduce pain by up to 49 points on a 0-100 scale, and in addition to reducing the number of active tender points.

People with FM must take this concept in exercise physiology to the extreme. Whereas someone without the condition might spend three to six months working up to an ideal level of fitness, those with FM will need at least six to twelve months – if not more – to slowly build strength and endurance. Temporary flare-ups may require a person with FM to take a break before resuming the exercise routine.

In some individuals such as myself, a vicious cycle develops – inactivity due to chronic pain, then more pain due to muscle atrophy. Besides muscles, resistance training strengthens connective tissues like tendons and ligaments – which enhance joint stability. Loss of strength also increases the risk of acute injuries like tendonitis and strained ligaments, and chronic problems like arthritis.

Most FM sufferers have disordered sleep, most commonly a deficit of delta sleep – the deepest phase of the sleep cycle. People with fibromyalgia should try to go to bed at the same time every night, and make the hour before sleep as relaxing as possible.

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