Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Guest blogger: Dr. Scott Calzaretta

Cat is coming out of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and had two questions:

Is CFS a long-term case of severe overtraining?

Answer: There is nothing that I have come across in the literature to suggest that CFS is a direct result of long term overtraining.

Her second question: How can she ramp up her ½ hour hill walking to a law-enforcement level of fitness without getting sick again?

Answer: You should get help from a health care professional who can assist you in improving your condition. Over 23 years, I have seen CSF patients make excellent recoveries when addressing the issues that caused their CSF. As a general rule, start slow (don’t increase more than 5%/week), get adequate sleep, focus on great nutrition and give yourself enough days between workouts to recover.

You really do need to work with someone knowledgeable in assisting patients to recover from CSF, and has more insight into your personal history, so you can move forward in your training.


Guest blogger Tim Grizzell also addressed Cat's concerns -- see the comments to his blog, "Making Time for Fitness" for his answer.

1 comment:

The WatchCat said...

Thanks for the comments, Doc!
On question 1, I agree that the overtraining connection has not appeared in any prominent literature. However, I do think it bears consideration because of the similarities in the symptom list and the histories of many CFS sufferers. Many of us had high-pressure, high-energy lifestyles before illness took us down. I don't know; I'm not a medical professional, but I found the correlations quite interesting.

Q2 is the real kicker. To be blunt, my regular doc hasn't been much help with anything related to the CFS, but I'm not aware of any experts in the Portland area so I've been hesitant to leave the one doctor who at least knows the bulk of my medical history.

Bare-bones history: I developed flu-like symptoms and PTSD shortly after returning from a year in Russia and the Middle East. We did MRIs and blood work & came up with elevated liver enzymes, and six months later, Epstein-Barr. And for six years, I dealt with mild to moderate impaired function. Last year I made major strides in dealing with stress issues, and also resolved some longstanding dental issues. Since then I've seen my endurance improve significantly.

I've been alternating walking and Pilates, usually with 3-4 workouts a week, punctuated with stretches, crunches and less-than-perfect pushups. Oh, and occasional sessions with my .40 ;) But I'm at the stage where I feel I need to start pushing myself harder since some long-term goals are now possibilities again.

One question for clarification: how are you measuring that 5%? Distance, time, intensity? And since stress seems to be a major factor for me, how do I balance the stress-relieving properties of exercise against the physical strain?

I do realize it's tough to advise from a distance, and I appreciate the time you've already taken on this. (My own post...I'm blushing!) Thanks for all your help!