More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Swimming eases fibromyalgia pain
Feb. 19, 2008

An hour workout 3 times a week soothed symptoms of the mystery ailment

LONDON - Swimming can significantly ease the debilitating pain of fibromyalgia, an ailment with no known cure, European researchers said on Friday.

The condition mainly strikes women and can cause severe pain and tenderness in muscles, ligaments and tendons. Shoulder and neck pain is common but some people with the condition also have problems sleeping, and suffer anxiety and depression.

In their study of 33 women, the researchers had one group exercise in warm water for more than an hour three times a week for eight months while the others did no aquatic training.

The women who swam said the workouts helped ease their pain and they reported an improved quality of life, said Narcis Gusi at the University of Extremadura in Spain and Pablo Tomas-Carus of the University of Evora in Portugal, who conducted the study.

“The addition of an aquatic exercise program to the usual care for fibromyalgia in women is cost-effective in terms of both health care costs and societal costs,” they wrote in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Doctors usually prescribe exercise and relaxation techniques, painkillers or sometimes a low-dose antidepressant to treat the symptoms.

Pregabalin, a drug that calms nerve cells, gained U.S. regulatory approval in June to treat the condition. It is sold as Lyrica by Pfizer Inc.

In November, U.S. researchers showed that women who participated in a physical training regimen said they had less pain, better physical functioning and vitality.

Gusi and Tomas-Carus said they did not compare aquatic training with other forms of exercise such as low-impact aerobics, walking and tai-chi.


I haven't been swimming in decades but I sure know that hydrotherapy (regularly exercising muscles/joints in warm/hot water - even in the bath I do some physio stretching and movements exercises etc) ... well ... the water makes it easier to lift and move plus, more important, it soothes and relaxes/softens muscles, which releases pulling and stress on the joints, all of which cause aching and pain in the muscles/joints, plus helps keep the muscles from wasting - as they tend to "waste" from lack of use, losing strength and tone and flexibility, eventually. When the water has relaxed and eased muscles and movement then exercising in it with stretching/toning/strengthening movements goes a long way to improving symptoms ... it does for me at any rate ;)

I know that when movement causes pain, there's a tendency to resist doing what hurts, so one thing that happened with me was wasted/shrinking muscles, which in turn causes stress/pull of tendons/ligaments and joints, so add more trouble and pain, and damage :( ... so hard but important to find a balance between too little/too much so as to keep the muscles in as good shape as possible and to not over do and hurt them. The worse shape they are in, the more pain and problems I have. Any kind of stress, physically going beyond energy/physical endurance, fatigue and lack of proper sleep, emotional and psychological stress, cold air (I HATE CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONG!!!) and other things, really effects my soft tissue/fibro stuff ... and thats when I love the hot water for some relief. I think the better shape the muscles are in then the less symptoms, or at least less intense when they happen. Most people that I know with fibro are ultra sensitive to temperature (hot/cold) especially sudden shifts in temp.

If you have fibro, what happens when you go shopping at a big grocery store and go through the frozen foods section? Anything? My muscles cringe and I start to hurt immediately!

I always move freer and better in hot water, and feel no ache in it ... sometimes when I'm having an extra hard time, the relief only lasts as long as I'm in the water, but most times it lasts a bit, or a lot longer ... and I always do gentle excercises in the tub.

I find another thing that helps me, as well as the water heat, is to notice when my muscles are feeling like they are tensing and I try to deliberately relax them and shift the way I'm using or positioning my body. Anything to try and unstress the muscles as much as possible. A benefit can be less fatigue that tends to come with the fibro. More exercise, less fatigue and symptoms usually, for me. Every little thing that helps, is a help. A cure would be better though :D

I hope some of you find something helpful in what I said.
very interesting kanadiana! i tense up from stress but that's been my extent of muscle pain (fortunately). i love being warm and am now having visions of relaxing warm bubble baths... :)


Hottub would be great to have access to sometimes, hey? :)
I'm glad, for you, that it sounds like you don't have fibro or any of the
other problems that effect connective tissue ;)
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