One of the things that people with fibromyalgia are told on a regular basis is to stretch. Stretch out those muscles and joints that are hurting so badly. It’s a good idea, certainly, but from what I can tell both by experience and in the little bits of reading I’ve been doing, stretching will not jump start pain reduction. It will certainly give temporary relief and just feels good, but if you are looking for actual pain reduction, cardio seems to be the answer.
Jones et al (see library) demonstrate in their study that aerobic training increases tolerance of pain, so maybe that’s why football players can head straight into each other like locomotives and actually enjoy the ensuing carnage. However, there are a couple bottom lines to take into account:
- Weight training does not increase pain tolerance (this was demonstrated in Umeda et al also)
- Cardio training may allow development of the part of the brain that increases pain tolerance.
This is the second time (at least) that I’ve read that exercise (the proper types of exercise) may actually retrain the brain to be able to tolerate or perceive pain differently. I have to keep looking into that….