Exercise is generally regarded as an effective treatment for conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
It is common however to see both positive and negative reactions to exercise from people suffering from these conditions.
The Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue Research Group (CHROPIVER) in Belgium have been investigating why this may be and have recently published some interesting conclusions on the subject.
Exercise activates something called endogenous analgesia in healthy individuals and those suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis according to the research.
This is the body’s way of reducing pain levels and will therefore lead to a reduction in symptoms for individuals suffering from either of those conditions.
Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue seem to lack this response however, which may make them vulnerable to symptom flares following exercise. It is advised to progress exercise very slowly and monitor the response very closely to minimise such reactions.
This largely matches our experience of working with these groups. Because we test the response of the muscular system to exercise with Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), we can be extremely accurate with its prescription.
This reduces the risk of making symptoms worse and ensures that exercise is progressed at the safest speed possible for that individual.
The full paper can be viewed here.