Effects of muscle stretching exercises in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a systematic review

Rev Bras Reumatol. 2015 Mar-Apr;55(2):167-73. doi: 10.1016/j.rbr.2014.08.015. Epub 2014 Nov 1.


Objective: This study has the objective to systematize scientific evidences about the use of muscle stretching exercises in the treatment of FM.

Methodology: It was performed from retrospective research without chronological and linguistic limits, at databases of MEDLINE, LILACS, SciELO and PEDro, as well as at PubMed search tool. Data collection was performed by two independent reviewers in October 2012, with the search strategy formulated by crossing descriptors and relevant terms to the topic in English, Portuguese and Spanish languages. Randomized clinical trials, only with patients with a clinical diagnosis of fibromyalgia and muscle stretching exercises as a therapeutic measure at least in one of the intervention groups were included. Included studies were assessed for methodological quality using PEDro scale and their references analyzed to highlight additional sources. The search amounted to an average of 6,794 items. Only five articles were selected, one being excluded because of its low methodological quality. Pain was assessed unanimously. The method and timing of interventions varied widely, there was poor mention of the parameters used in the stretches and absence of specific physical examinations.

Results: There was significant improvement in all studies regarding pain, besides as related to quality of life and physical condition.

Conclusion: It is clear the importance of muscle stretching in the treatment of FM, however, there is a need for further studies to establish the real benefits of the technique, because the majority of published studies shows low methodological quality and there is a lack of standardization regarding the use of this resource.

Keywords: Alongamento; Fibromialgia; Fibromyalgia; Fisioterapia; Physiotherapy; Stretching.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic