This whole fibromyalgia project started when I discovered that extreme exercise was remarkably good for me. Bootcamp was the first time in literally decades that I had run, jumped, and generally moved beyond a brisk walk. I was sore and tired, but my body was snapping back. Even being tired, my brain seemed to be a little more active too. What was happening to apparently reduce fibromyalgia symptoms when light or moderate exercise didn’t have an effect or make symptoms worse? I still haven’t answered that question.
After bootcamp, I signed up for a Crossfit class for people over 40, Silver Nanos, a great program with two parts, strengthening and cardio. The first part of the workout usually focuses on weight training with barbells, etc. The second part of the workout usually focuses more on cardio but often with a weight element. At first things were going pretty well, but it wasn’t long before things started sliding. At first muscle pain didn’t snap back as quickly. Then my hips became unbearable, and I got cortisone shots to ease that up. The shots didn’t work, and pretty soon my lower back was joining in the chorus of “oh no you don’t…” I cut back on the exercise, going once a week instead of twice. I immediately started losing cardiac stamina, and shortness of breath was knocking me down. Then the psychological factors kicked in, anxiety and panic, and I had gotten to the point that I just couldn’t walk in the door.
Last week I started a different program at Crossfit, STEAM, which is a cardio workout. The workout is more sustained at 25 or 30 minutes instead of broken up. It’s really tough. The last one included 20 walking lunges as part of the AMRAP25. In total, I did 75 lunges. That was two days ago.
Yesterday I went to work and out to dinner and a movie, got home late, exhausted, sore, but it was in general a good day. Today is Saturday, and I can’t move. Every thigh muscle is screaming at me. Sitting, standing, walking, it’s torture. However – and this is a big however – this is the very satisfying sore muscle pain that I had with bootcamp. My back is yelling at me, but no more than before.
My theory is that a strictly cardio workout – vigorous, not light and well past moderate – is what fibro needs to either settle down or create enough regular “real” muscle pain to take the mind off the fibro pain. Without knowing what I’m talking about, I think it involves what happens on a cellular level with fibromyalgia. What, I don’t know. I’ve read about the mitochondrial changes and the mast cell proliferation. I know that a lot of the chemicals and hormones that people with fibro are short on react on a cellular level. There is something that happens during cardio (aerobic) exercises that does not happen during strength training (anaerobic) exercises. There must be some way to figure out exactly what the difference is – on a cellular level. If so, then would there be a possibility of coming up with some answers about fibro management? Or the origin of fibro? I don’t know… still.