During intense training or a new strength training routine, you may experience significant pain, but if you start to experience pain, especially above your normal threshold or typical post-workout pain. , it may signal something more serious.
If this severe pain occurs after a traumatic event or after you’re in your 30s, but the cause isn’t clear, it could be fibromyalgia. We spoke with experts to explain what the condition is, how to diagnose and treat it, and how it can impact your run. (And remember that any time you are in pain or have trouble recovering that you weren’t doing before, it’s important to cut back on workouts and contact your doctor.)
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain. It is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue and problems with memory and mood. Although researchers don’t have a great understanding of the disorder and the problems that accompany it, fibromyalgia is thought to affect the way a person’s brain and spinal cord process pain signals, according to the Mayo Clinic. This means that once a person is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, pain can affect their stroke in several ways.
Fibromyalgia is a highly individualized disorder that often occurs in your 30s. Sometimes it can appear as a sudden increase in body pain, and other times it can happen gradually.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed and treated?
According to Kaitlyn Baird, ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the NYU Sports Performance Center, it can often be difficult to get a diagnosis and it takes a long time for a person to go through the medical system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed if you’ve had “widespread pain throughout your body for at least three months.” (“Large” means pain on both sides of your body, as well as above and below your waist.) To make a diagnosis, your doctor will usually do a physical exam of your muscles and joints, as well as a neurological exam, according to the Mayo Clinic. They may also want to do some blood tests to rule out other conditions.
Many people will feel that physical activity makes their pain worse, so if you are an avid runner you might find that your runs leave you in pain. So, you may need to reduce your physical activity, especially at the start and when seeking diagnosis and care, Baird explains.
âAs people go through their diagnosis, we know that aerobic activity – especially light to moderate exercise – is important for people with fibromyalgia,â Baird said. The world of runners.
One important thing to note is that a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can sound like a real loss of sense of self, loss of self-confidence, or loss of sense of control. While it’s different for everyone, even some of the mental health barriers that come with fibromyalgia, such as depression and brain fog, can affect your desire or motivation to run, Baird says. So just know if these things are affecting you, you are not alone and taking care of yourself both mentally and physically is important.
Treatment for fibromyalgia can include medications and various therapies, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, self-care strategies, such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet, can help.
Can I run after a fibromyalgia diagnosis?
âDon’t let the label of ‘fibromyalgia’ be your identity and make you think there is no hope. Many runners were diagnosed with fibromyalgia and were able to resume running at their previous level â, Terry Gebhardt, PT, DPT and CEO of Colorado on the move, recount The world of runners.
Baird suggests tracking your pain level after different types of runs, such as recovery runs, track training, long runs, etc., and noting how often and how far you can run without causing pain. additional.
âIt will mean rethinking your routine and setting new guidelines for yourself,â Baird explains. âThe main thing to remember is that even if you’ve been a runner, start slow and build slowly. Resist the urge to take the plunge.
Each runner or person who begins a running program will have a different set of resources, such as access to doctors, coaches, or exercise physiologists who are familiar with the disorder.
Aerobic exercise could improve health-related quality of life and physical function while reducing stiffness and pain in people with fibromyalgia, Sue Hitzman, exercise physiologist and creator of the MELT method, recount The world of runners.
Another thing to consider is to take it easy if you are experiencing a flare-up.
âYou don’t want to fuel that negative cycle of fear of ‘oh I ran so now I’m in pain’ which can make you hesitate to run,â Baird says.
The secret to maintaining an active lifestyle with fibromyalgia is figuring out what time of day you normally have the most pain, Hitzman says. Part of the process of creating self-care plans for fibromyalgia is figuring out what activities are causing your symptoms to flare up and your overall pain tolerance.
While everyone will be different, Baird suggests starting the workout with a run / walk program, or even a minute of light jogging during a walk and slowly increasing the mileage. Consider the factors that go into planning a running program, including volume, frequency and intensity. More intense activity will likely cause a flare up, so it is suggested to start in an area of ââlower activity and continue from there.
While many people can use heart rate to track intensity, Baird actually suggests using Perceived Exertion Rate (RPE) and keeping your RPE between 2 and 4 out of 10.
This is because your heart rate can fluctuate, but the RPE is dependent on your exertion, which can help you gauge if the exercise is too strenuous.
Can a trainer help me with a running program?
It is going to be different for each person, depending on their medical team, access to care and what a person can afford or has insurance to cover.
A good place to start is to try to find a center or hospital that has a movement disorders department, Baird says. Then you should work with your doctor or an exercise physiologist – who would have more specialized knowledge than your average trainer – on a workout plan.
âHalf of the program will likely involve motivational training and recovery,â Baird says. âIt will probably be a very collaborative effort. It is important to help everyone to regain confidence in their body and to deal with other stressors.
Keep in mind that stress at work and in life can exacerbate fibromyalgia and that it can be difficult to sleep well, which can affect both training and day-to-day living. It is therefore important to work with a specialist who can help you consider a program holistically.
Do I need to change my training in any other way after a diagnosis of fibromyalgia?
âWe have to treat the system, not just the symptoms of fibromyalgia,â says Gebhardt. This means addressing all of the factors that influence your pain and fatigue. Some of these include: sleep, nutrition, meditation, and the gradual progression of exercise (including strength training and mobility, in addition to running) to allow your body to adapt. .
Although many runners enjoy running and dislike doing other types of cross training, there is a need to train your body to be stronger and have better mobility and balance, as well as practice. of consistent meditation, if a runner with fibromyalgia wants to be able to run, Gebhardt says.
And, allowing extra recovery time and avoiding intensities that would exacerbate symptoms are possible alterations that will allow runners to have the most success in their training, Stephanie Palunchowski, PT, DPT, at Strive for physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation, recount The world of runners.
Plus, running technique may need to be addressed to minimize stress on the body, and a physiotherapist can help adjust technique, Gebhardt says.
Can I resume running after a diagnosis of fibromyalgia?
It is certainly possible.
âI know people with fibromyalgia who run marathons and ultras,â Baird says. “What becomes important, especially when training for something so intense, is learning to determine the pain and pain of running versus other aches and symptoms.”
It can be pretty hard to know when you need to deal with pain during training, so that extra layer with fibromyalgia pain can be devastating to both your workout and your confidence, Baird says.
A good option is to have a back-up plan if running isn’t going to be a good thing for you that day, like rescheduling your run, adding a recovery day, or going for something with less impact. , such as swimming or a stretching routine. Studies have shown that incorporating a stretching routine can help manage the pain and stiffness that accompany fibromyalgia.
âI would say knowing your body is one of the most important things that would give you the confidence you need to run again, even though it can often be a traumatic diagnosis,â Baird said.
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