It seems a month doesn’t go by when yet another scientific study is published proving the benefits of exercise for fibromyalgia patients. The most recent study from Finland (Valkeinen H, Alen M, Hakkinen A, Hannonen P, Kukkonen-Hariula K, Hakkinen K. Effects of concurrent strength and endurance training on phsyical fitness and symptoms in postmenopausal women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2008;89:1660-1666.) looked at 26 women who were postmenopausal and had fibromyalgia symptoms such as widespread pain and fatigue. The participants were given a supervised 21-week progressive program addressing both strength and endurance exercises.
The results were very encouraging and merit further large-scale studies. The scientists found increases in muscle strength and that fibromyalgia symptoms were also reduced, especially fatigue. The front of the legs (quadriceps) improved significantly in strength over the control group.
What is key to this study is both weight training or resistance types of exercises were used along with aerobic conditioning, which works your heart and lungs. This combination coupled with a weight-loss or sound nutrition program are key adjuncts in getting a patient with fibromyalgia to move again. The addition of chiropractic care rounds out a natural and comprehensive alternative approach. When pain limits your mobility and ability to exercise, chiropractic can help to lessen pain and help you to regain more function.
When research (Athritis Rheum 2006;54:1334, Scand J Rheumatol 2005;34:309) shows again and again the importance of exercise in treating fibromyalgia patients, it should compel us to take action. If you can still walk (even it’s in a swimming pool), you can begin an exercise program. Just make sure it is doctor-supervised so you don’t go too far, too quickly. Since gains are great in the first month and we feel much better, we may progress too quickly with demands, resulting in injury or over-training. Advice as simple as getting enough rest at night, is to recovery and advancing your fitness goals. Also, a sound diet with vitamin and mineral support needs to be considered when you are consuming less calories for weight-loss needs.