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Fibromyalgia: Exercising with Chronic Pain

written by: Bobby Ivie • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 1/13/2011

Exercising with chronic pain sure doesn't sound exciting, but it just may be what the doctor ordered. This article will show you how exercising can relieve some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and bring new life back into your life.

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    Exercising with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia is not that appealing to those who live with it. It is most likely the last thing they want to do. But it's not always wise to reward the pain with inactivity. There may be relief available through some appropriate activity.

    Fibromyalgia is a painful chronic condition that affects muscles and the tissues that connect them. The tenderness and stiffness may be accompanied by other symptoms that would seem unrelated: insomnia, fatigue and headache -- not exactly the ingredients of motivation for exercise. However, according to doctors, that is exactly what is needed.

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    Why Exercise Relieves Chronic Pain

    woman exercise In spite of the numerous theories about the benefits of exercising with fibromyalgia, none has been considered 100% conclusive. They all make sense, though.

    Exercise causes the release of endorphins into the body. Endorphins are pain relievers that are many times stronger than morphine. Even a tiny amount is needed to make the body feel better. Phenomena such as runners' high bears witness to this. Some runners get euphoric during or after a hard run.

    Exercise can help with insomnia and other sleep disorders. When the body has been fatigued during the day, it is more likely to rest well during the night. Conversely, a body that has been overworked may be restless at night. Moderation is the key to healthy exercise.

    Swelling in the joints and tendons may be reduced by getting a good workout. A good workout will cause a good sweat that rids the body of retained water. When that water is removed from the inflamed tissues, they tend not to rub up against muscle and bone, thus reducing tenderness.

    A good workout routine will improve the quality of life in many areas. That can indirectly affect fibromyalgia by providing an overall sense of well-being and freedom from the depression brought on by pain. That state of mind can lead to more activity, which in turn leads to feeling better due to having less pain and more energy. It is a healthy, life-changing cycle.

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    How to Start Exercising with Chronic Pain

    Patients need to start slowly. Overstressing the muscles will only lead to more pain. A doctor can provide a good beginning exercise routine to build upon as strength improves. Examples of good exercises for beginners include walking, swimming, and mild weight training.

    Weight training will get the muscles moving, which will relieve some of the stiffness. Stronger muscles afford better support to the body and better posture. This results in less taxing of the muscles during every day activities.

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    Summary

    While exercising with chronic pain might seem contradictory to the condition, especially fibromyalgia, it is what works. It is important that patients choose exercises at their level of ability. Someone new to working out need not prepare for next month's marathon -- maybe the one next year. Slow and steady wins the race.

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    Resources

    Image: morgueFile.com

    http://www.med.umich.edu/whp/information/fibromyalgia.htm

    http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=13571

    http://www.med.umich.edu/painresearch/patients/life.htm