A randomized controlled trial of muscle strengthening versus flexibility training in fibromyalgia

Kim Dupree Jones, Carol S. Burckhardt, Sharon R. Clark, Robert M. Bennett, Kathleen M. Potempa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the effectiveness of a muscle strengthening program compared to a stretching program in women with fibromyalgia (FM). Methods. Sixty-eight women with FM were randomly assigned to a 12 week, twice weekly exercise program consisting of either muscle strengthening or stretching. Outcome measures included muscle strength (main outcome variable), flexibility, weight, body fat, tender point count, and disease and symptom severity scales. Results. No statistically significant differences between groups were found on independent t tests. Paired t tests revealed twice the number of significant improvements in the strengthening group compared to the stretching group. Effect size scores indicated that the magnitude of change was generally greater in the strengthening group than the stretching group. Conclusion. Patients with FM can engage in a specially tailored muscle strengthening program and experience an improvement in overall disease activity, without a significant exercise induced flare in pain. Flexibility training alone also results in overall improvements, albeit of a lesser degree.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1041-1048
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Flexibility
  • Muscle strengthening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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