Muscle tightening/shortening

Shel

Active member
Joined
Jul 26, 2022
Messages
55
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
11/2021
Country
US
State
MN
Hello! I’ve heard some of you refer to muscle or tendon shortening or something like that. I feel like my leg muscles are always needing to be stretched out. I also have plantar fasciitis, which we know is connected to the calf muscle. Are they actually getting tighter or shortening? Is there a test to see ? So is fibromyalgia progressive? People say flare ups, but do we really know if our flare ups are not really just the progression of things? It’s hard when symptoms come and go and can’t be connected to a trigger. Thank you so much!
 

JayCS

Legendary member
Forum Supporter
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
2,138
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
02/2020
Country
GE
Hi again, Shel - a small question (muscle tightening vs. shortening) leading straight into 2 big ones (progression vs. flares, and the mystery of triggers), which has one crucial thing in common....
- so pardon all the details, I hope this is what you were asking for...: 😊
Hello! I’ve heard some of you refer to muscle or tendon shortening or something like that. I feel like my leg muscles are always needing to be stretched out. I also have plantar fasciitis, which we know is connected to the calf muscle. Are they actually getting tighter or shortening?
I'd say both. Lemme see if I can describe the similarity and difference.
The shortening though leads mainly to stiffness and pain above and below joints, after not moving. For most of us that's the morning stiffness after trying to "get up", whilst for me it's after every longer time not moving / not stretching.
The tightening is related, but can lead to cramps, inflammation-like pains, thickening.
But plantar fasciitis with calf muscles shortening because the toes are dropping at night may seem to be similar to the shortening leading to stiffness/tendon pain, but that's where it ends, it's a different mechanism causing pain in a different place.
Is there a test to see ?
Well yes: Self-tests... I found the pseudo-joint connection out by moving my limbs, whilst putting my fingers on the joint, then above and below, and only then did it dawn on me that it's not the joints. Then I remembered the rheum. who diagnosed me saying and writing she preferred the name "polyinsertionstendomyopathy" to "fibromyalgia", saying it was more correct.
Well, even if we take fibro-my-algia in the literal sense that is not true in my experience - the insertion points of my tendons do hurt, yes, but my severe muscle Ache is a much bigger problem. And this is completely ignoring the fact that "fibromyalgia" ("syndrome") is a lot more than that. But her monster of a word does point in an interesting direction. Just it's hardly used by anyone else... I have seen it a few times, like a German page using the I think outdated terms Tendomyopathie and Weichteilrheuma, the latter meaning soft tissue rheumatism.... (A term which my wife tried to use a while to try to explain it to others, but has changed now.) Also I have read one or two people similar to me clarifying that fibromyalgia is not a joint problem, but as yet this is not often said on the one hand, on the other I as yet stand uncorrected with this belief - which doesn't mean I'm right, but it feels right, up to now.

Back to (my) self-tests: to see if my muscles are getting tighter I don't put my fingers on the joints, I put them on the muscles, and they feel pretty hard. This is something a PT can also test. The joint bit is something they can't test, that's something for us to try out ourselves.

So is fibromyalgia progressive? People say flare ups, but do we really know if our flare ups are not really just the progression of things? It’s hard when symptoms come and go and can’t be connected to a trigger. Thank you so much!
I'm not sure if you're connecting this to the tendon/muscle problems. But the same applies to these symptoms as to the rest:

Fibromyalgia as a condition is definitely not progressive in the real sense of the word, meaning it always gets worse, by itself, and can even be terminal: it doesn't and can't.
However our symptoms can worsen (or seem to) for a great many reasons:

1) Worsening of symptoms and quality of life can be related to fibro:
a) lack of correct treatments, their side effects, esp. with delayed diagnosis,
b) lack of activity with muscle atrophy and weight gain (healthy diet; adjusted amount of activity),
c) lack of healthy lifestyle
d) pushing through = lack of pacing, sometimes hits weeks or months later.
e) chronic symptoms may take some toll with time - depression, fibro fog(?)
(Improving these can improve symptoms, i.e. they influence both ways.)
2) Worsening of symptoms can be unrelated to fibro:
a) aging (aches & pains, stamina, sleep etc.)
b) added co-morbidities (possibly unidentified)(& whether 'secondary' or 'primary'),
c) added worsening problems like depression, anxiety, insomnia,
d) worsening life circumstances,
e) which can all also influence diet / weight & activity etc.
f) Build-up before fibro becomes fully fledged.
g) Longer term flares from unidentified triggers.
Plus: Typical, natural misperception problem: "Things aren't what they used to be" ... ("The grass ... used to be ... greener")

We call a - relative - worsening "flare up", exactly because that's what the symptoms do, they flare up and then usually down again. As you say symptoms come and go...
It's irritating that when we can't connect symptoms to a certain trigger, it makes for a certain amount of mystery, but it is clear that "what goes up will come down", at least on average, and so it's good to try to not despair, but to try to accept this.

I'm not sure how much others will be able to demystify & control their triggers, but as I have mine, that is a great help for me.
But if most of us were not able to learn a certain control of our triggers, then we'd be pretty lost with all this and it would progress.
Apparently we can and it doesn't usually, but that's then the challenge: to "do it ourselves".

All this has is common learning to listen to our bodies.
Something most of us have never been trained to do.
Or rather: A lot of us have been trained not to do.


(In short my "progression" was: waves of Ache building up to a full flare since 2019, doc treatments made it worse, finding out triggers and treatments better and stable, then the jabs triggered a co-morbidity, which I also learnt to de-trigger and treat,
leaving me with much less energy, so less able to be active, but all other symptoms incl. pain, insomnia, IBS definitely there, but also well under control, so with a high quality of life, despite only being able to be active 1 or 2 hours per day.
And if I had been trained to listen to my body rather than ignoring it,
I probably could have avoided the full flare I'll likely never get out of again....
)
 
Last edited:

Shel

Active member
Joined
Jul 26, 2022
Messages
55
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
11/2021
Country
US
State
MN
This is the most helpful thing I’ve read in a long time. Thank you so so much!!!
 

JayCS

Legendary member
Forum Supporter
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
2,138
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
02/2020
Country
GE
This is the most helpful thing I’ve read in a long time. Thank you so so much!!!
Thank you, glad it made a bit of sense! Don't overlook my edits at the end ... 👐
 
Last edited:

sunkacola

Moderator
Forum Supporter
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
2,416
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
US
Shel, if your muscles are tightening the only way to change that is to stretch. Daily. You don't have to push it to the point of pain and it's better if you don't. Go gently but every week or so see if you can stretch just a little bit more. You will be amazed at how far you have come in 6 months, in a year if you do that! And you can start at any age. Muscles don't literally get shorter, they just tighten up from lack of stretching.

You can get good stretching poses on YouTube or I can give you what I use. It takes no more than 5 minutes a day and will make a huge difference!
 

Shel

Active member
Joined
Jul 26, 2022
Messages
55
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
11/2021
Country
US
State
MN
Thank you so much. Yes, which do you use?
 

sunkacola

Moderator
Forum Supporter
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
2,416
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
US
The most important thing to remember is this: If you only hold the stretch for 2 seconds it won't do you a bit of good.

And never "bounce" a stretch. In other words, don't stretch and then let go in a couple seconds and then stretch again.
This can cause injury. Instead, pull or stretch in a slow and steady manner until you reach the most stretch you can do without too much discomfort. There needs to be some discomfort or you aren't stretching at all, but you decide how much you go into the stretch according to how much discomfort you can take on any given day. It will be worse at first; once you get used to stretching it will start to feel good!

You need to really feel the stretch but not be in actual pain. Hold the stretch steadily for at least 10 seconds. The longer you hold it, the better, but loosen up if it is painful. If you get a cramp, stop working that body part until the next day.

Calf---one foot with toes touching the wall, other foot out behind with heel down. If no stretch, put that foot farther back until you have to work to try to get your heel on the ground. Repeat on other side.

Shoulders - put elbows wide apart on a counter top about chest high and try to put your head down between your arms.

Thighs - kneel with one knee behind the other and try to hold the behind foot up with one hand. Use a strap or robe tie if y ou can't reach that foot with your hand. Keep the other hand on something if you need to for balance.

Hamstrings ( very important!) - lie down on your back holding a robe tie or a strap of some kind. Put the strap under the arch of one foot, lie flat and bring that leg up. Pull on the strap towards your head until you feel the stretch. Repeat with other leg. Pull a little bit more once a week or every other week. With this one you can pull until it is pretty uncomfortable and it won't hurt you, just don't cause actual pain and do it slowly and steadily.

Another shoulders - one arm behind back and the other over your shoulder and try to touch, then grasp, fingers of hands together. Do this on both sides.

These are my basics; I have others I do as well. Start with these, though, because it won't take long.
If you hold each pose for 30 seconds it still won't take more than 5 minutes.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

DebMarPir

Active member
Joined
Jul 10, 2021
Messages
69
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
US
State
PA
Plantar fasciitis is of unknown origin but there are factors that are linked. I had it five times. It’s an inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of the foot, obviously, and they do have you stretch your calves as one of several exercises. (Stand on a stair backwards and let your heels sink of a step holding is a good one.) More links are being female, or overweight, but it can also be an overuse thing. I used to walk a lot-hours a week, I pronate, and I now only wear good shoes. I no longer walk for exercise because I had 5 bouts and each was worse and I was at the point I was close to surgery…each time got worse. Even though I was doing many of the tight things I no longer push it. I bike. But don’t let or worry you, with good therapy if this is your first time it may disappear really easily. You will also have exercises stretching the feet, icing the feet and so on. Good luck.
 

Shel

Active member
Joined
Jul 26, 2022
Messages
55
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
11/2021
Country
US
State
MN
Thank you!! I had it several years ago. I got orthodics and stopped going barefoot. It resolved. This bout has lasted about 6 months.
 

JayCS

Legendary member
Forum Supporter
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
2,138
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
02/2020
Country
GE
Plantar fasciitis is of unknown origin
Just in case it gets lost, best if I add that what I was reading and comparing with fibro muscle problems was the explanation that plantar fasciitis is worse in the morning - like fibro stiffness - because feet/toes are drooping all night and so the calf muscles shorten.
Not that I know much else about it, cos calf stretching in a few different ways is what helps me best (got it down completely in 1-2 days, cos I didn't let it become chronic), after trying out about 10+ youtube exercises for it, so I didn't need to delve further.
they do have you stretch your calves as one of several exercises
On what are the others more focused, on the foot itself?

By far not all exercises helped me, so I'm curious if you or anyone knows why: are there different forms or is it just that our feet and legs are different?

And a warning: I thought I could quickly help my wife with hers 2 weeks ago which had probably been caused by old footwear, by showing my favourite exercise. She then did it for 90 seconds in one stint, and either the length or the exercise made it a lot worse.... :rolleyes: Luckily a few days later we were able to approach the topic again 😬 😊, and she read up on it (and agreed at least my diagnosis was dead right) and tried something different, doc's appointment is in 2 weeks, in the meantime new shoes and some things she can put under her heels.

So like so often it's good to be able to listen to our bodies and sense how long our stretches etc. are best.

I know when my full flare first started, a pain doc suggested to do Yin Yoga, which are yoga stretches of several minutes long. I was ripped apart after 40 or 50 seconds. I thought I was being great and proving myself doing these and also the stretches in a stretching book in the longest time that was suggested in it, also around 45 seconds. Then quickly gave up, cos it was causing dreadful and very long lasting pain.
Only when I started applying the "secret" of pacing, sweet spots, limits, meaning for me 10 second stints of everything (sometimes only 3), did I realize I could do "anything", and that could then be expanded bit by bit.
I didn't think I'd ever be able to touch my toes again with knees straight, but now it's no problem and that stretch started with 5 seconds, and even now I seldom do 30 seconds. So for me it's mainly how regularly I do them (e.g. once an hour for a time)....
 
Last edited:

Medicine

Active member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
35
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
00/0000
Better for muscle to be lengthening and stretching.
 
Top