Can Resistance Training Help Ease Fibromyalgia Symptoms?


If you suffer from fibromyalgia (FM), you know the challenges of trying to find a treatment that really works. A big part of the problem is that the underlying causes of the condition are largely unknown, so treatments are geared to managing pain, without hope of getting to the source.

One approach that has had positive results for FM sufferers is resistance training. For many, the idea may seem counterintuitive, since the natural impulse is to protect painful tissue. Yet research points to positive outcomes when resistance training is included as part of an FM treatment program.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that currently has no cure. Many experts suspect that the underlying cause is neurological in nature, and associated with abnormal pain responses in the central nervous system.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:


Diagnosis is based on a clinical exam that relies heavily on patient-reported symptoms.

Exercise and FM Symptom Relief

Physical exercise is often prescribed as a treatment approach for FM, but there is often no consensus among practitioners about which type of exercise is most beneficial. Many patients opt for water exercise because it seems like the least painful alternative. However, a growing body of evidence points to strength training as the most effective activity for alleviating FM symptoms.

A recent review of 22 studies that treated adult FM patients with resistance training found strength training to be effective in reducing pain, fatigue, tender points, depression, and anxiety. Patients also demonstrated greater functional capacity and improved quality of life.

It is worth mentioning that FM patients are often less strong and have lower functional capacity than their healthy peers, possibly due to pain and fatigue that causes them to avoid physical activity. However, researchers found that FM patients had responses to strength training similar to healthy subjects in terms of strength and muscle gain.

How Much, How Often?

There is currently no specific exercise prescription for strength training for FM patients. However, In the above-mentioned review, most studies followed adult exercise guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine.

ACSM guidelines recommend:

  • Resistance exercise performed at least two non-consecutive days per week
  • Perform one set of 8-12 repetitions
  • Do a total of 8-10 exercises to target various muscle groups
  • Resistance can be provided by body weight, resistance bands, free weights, medicine balls or weight machines
  • Use enough resistance to challenge your muscles

Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief in NYC

If you are tired of taking medications and undergoing treatments that do little to alleviate your FM symptoms, it may be time for a new approach. At NYDNR, we leverage the latest technologies and most innovative treatments to get to the source of your symptoms, with the goal of restoring function and improving overall quality of life. Contact us today, and get back to doing the things you love, pain-free.

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