Question

Fibromyalgia and Exercise

What if my fibromyalgia causes too much pain to exercise?

A Answers (3)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Try easing off to a pace that feels comfortable for you. Exercise is one of the best forms of medicine for fibromyalgia. Getting up and moving builds strength and increases blood flow to your muscles, nourishing them with oxygen and nutrients.

    If you ache and throb after a workout, you may be pushing yourself too hard, which can cause fibromyalgia to flare up. Here's the good news: Research shows that even mild exercise can reduce pain and other fibromyalgia symptoms. In one study, women who pedaled stationary bikes at a pace they found comfortable experienced just as much pain relief as women  encouraged to pedal harder. If you need help finding your comfort zone when you exercise, talk to your doctor or a fitness trainer.
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  • Exercise is often an important and effective part of treating fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, the pain caused by the disorder can make exercising difficult at times. If this is the case for you, try starting with some type of moderate physical activity, like walking. Over time you will gain strength, and eventually, you'll be able to perform more strenuous forms of exercise. Start small and build a good foundation. Don't let frustration add unnecessary stress to your life or your symptoms might actually get worse. Talk to your doctor about finding a form of exercise that works for you. You may even find it beneficial to work with a physical therapist.

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  • ACeleste Cooper, Rheumatology, answered

    Which came first the cart or the horse?

    Exercising when you have FM is the epitome of right kind, right amount, and right time. So, what is too much, and what is enough? Stretching and aerobic exercise are a must, but going too fast or trying to exercise a muscle riddled with myofascial trigger points will only set you back, give you feelings of defeat and most likely cause you to quit.

    Start low and go slow. When starting any routine, try going at half the pace at least for the first couple of weeks, slowly building tolerance. If you are exercising a muscle with trigger points (see my website thesethree.com - myofascial section) it will cause the muscle to further shorten, weaken, and cause more pain and dysfunction. Treat the trigger point involved and proceed slowly.

    Finding the right fitness routine for you is important, for many health reasons, but in FM it is imperative, imagine the oil lubricating stiff muscles allowing them to flow freely as you move. If you do not enjoy what you are doing or if it causes more pain you will not stick to it. You must stick to it.

    It seems we do not fit in our space, (lack of proprioception) walk into things, etc. It is important to improve that by giving the right feedback to our control center, exercise is the means to that end. Our brain seems to interact with us better at certain times of the day; generally, most FM patients report their best time as late morning, early afternoon. Do your movement dedication during your peak hours. On days when everything is a struggle, don’t exert yourself, save your energy for tomorrow, and then get back on the band wagon.

    If exercise is a nasty word for you because of failed attempts, exchange the word with movement. T’ai Chi, stretching, and walking, or bouncing on a yoga ball are all good ways to increase movement.

    All blogs, posts and answers are based on the work in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Celeste Cooper, RN, and Jeff Miller, PhD. 2010, Vermont: Healing Arts press

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How do I manage fibromyalgia on a daily basis?