By: Angela Collins
Reprinted from FMOnline

Presentation given by Angela Collins, R.P.T. and Vice President of Suncoast Rehabilitation April 22, 1997
Exercise is a way to get stronger and to make muscles firmer.  If you have Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), it is very important to get your muscles healthier!  This includes improving the mobility of your muscle fibers (reducing tightness), increasing the metabolism or oxygen flow in your muscles, and improving the muscle tone and endurance.

What Can Exercise Do For You?

  • It can make your muscles healthier, so they can handle physical and bio-chemical stress better
  • It can increase the flexibility and length of your muscles
  • It can increase the oxygen flow to your muscles, improving muscle metabolism
  • It can help you sleep better
  • It can reduce stress, anxiety and depression
  • It can increase your energy and endurance
  • It can help you to reduce or control your weight.

What Type of Exercise Programs?

  • Daily stretching program for tight muscles. (Flexibility)
  • A three-times-per-week fitness program that increases heart rate and oxygen flow to the body. (Cardiovascular)

Various Forms of Exercise

  • Walking – Cardiovascular fitness (provides no strength or flexibility of trunk, upper extremities)
  • Swimming – Cardiovascular fitness, increases tone and length of muscles. (30 – 60 minutes, 3x per week recommended)
  • Water Exercise Program – Cardiovascular fitness, water reduces weight bearing pressure on spine and joints. (Swimex, gentle free style swimming)
  • Yoga – Includes deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, gentle stretching (Caution: Yoga “postures” designed for healthy bodies; talk to your instructor about what is right for your body)
  • T’ai Chi – Breath control with relaxation and physical conditioning, increases balance. Can be wonderful for those with FMS and polymyalgia, may have to modify some positions; talk to your instructor about what is right for your body

Eventually add:

  • Exercise cycle and bicycling – aerobic exercise, conditioning of lower extremities. (Caution: gripping of handles can lead to tightening of neck and back muscles. Sit in good posture, neck tucked in.)
  • Aerobic Exercise Classes – Step-aerobics, stretch and tone. (Evaluate based on amount of impact; stretch and tone classes are best.)
  • Weight Machines and Free Weights – Not recommended due to focus on strengthening only.
  • Jogging and Running – High impact form of exercise but cardiovascular training is good for mild FMS.

Avoiding Flare Ups

  • Create a realistic goal ( usually slow program of 3 months to a year)
  • Create a 5 to 10 step plan to achieve goal without increasing symptoms. (Listen to your body.)
  • Set yourself up to win by setting up realistic goals. Be good to your body!
  • Exercise For Severe FMS
  • Consult a professional to structure a progressive fitness program to include exercise and normal home activities.
  • Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, aquatic therapy, occupational therapy and cognitive and speech therapy.