Exercise Helps Fibromyalgia

By Joshua Trentine, OVERLOAD Fitness

Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues.

Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.

Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 5.8million Americans.

Fibromyalgia symptoms are commonly treated with medications, lifestyle changes, stress management, massage, hydrotherapy, infrared therapy, and most importantly diet and exercise.

Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. It benefits all of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain, fatigue, hormonal output and sleep problems.

Exercise can help maintain or increase bone mass, improve balance, reduce stress, increase cardiac output, increase strength and improve overall functional ability. Getting regular exercise can also improve glucose economy and insulin sensitivity; this relates to body fat levels, lean muscle mass and metabolic efficiency. Some evidence supports the hypothesis that fibromyalgia may be due to thyroid disorder. The right type of exercise can enhance thyroid function, the wrong type, or too much, can depress thyroid function which is particularly relevant when dealing with someone deconditioned or debilitated fibromyalgia sufferers.

Exercise and diet can and will have a profound impact on hormones. In spite of this fact, some people will need to seek professional medical help for rebalancing their thyroid hormones. This subject is outside of the scope of this article and should be discussed with a medical doctor.

Exercise done right may be the most controllable component when addressing fibromyalgia. Exercise done right is high intensity low force strength training.

Exercise done wrong: Excessive amounts of long duration steady state activity at a low intensity.

Fibromyalgia Strength Training:

• Choose only 1 to 2 days per week to engage in strength training. All of the “good stuff” happens while we recover from exercise, this can take 3 to 7 days. Recovery periods may need to be even longer as we age or become more advanced in our exercise performance. A full week rest may be absolutely appropriate for many fibromyalgia sufferers.

• Choose the minimum number of exercises that produce the greatest effect. These tend to be a combination of Leg Press, Pull Down, Chest Press, Compound Row, and Overhead Press. Fibromyalgia sufferers may need very specific back and neck exercises. This should be supervised by trained professionals.

• Select a load that produces muscular failure in a range of 6 to 10 repetitions done in a very specific manner. Use the slowest speed of movement that produces the smoothest movement possible. It makes the exercise both harder and safer.

• Train to fatigue, the point where you are incapable of producing another repetition in spite of your best efforts and form. We recommend that fibromyalgia patients slowly progress their loads and avoid training to fatigue for the first month working out.

• Breath Free! Never hold your breath during exercise. Listen to your breath sounds, note that your breathing should increase to a rapid rate as you fatigue; this effects the stress response that the fibromyalgia suffer may get from exercise and may help with discomfort of some of the accessory breathing muscles in the upper back that can become restricted.

• Focus. You should maintain a blank expressionless look on your face no matter how hard the exercise gets and NEVER move your eyes or head around the room while training. This protects the vulnerable neck (often seen with fibromyalgia) and improves muscular recruitment.

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