Can Patients with McArdle’s Disease Run?

Can patients with McArdle’s disease run?  Historically, most of us with the condition have difficulty doing just that – jogging or running, or similarly intense activities.  While scouring the internet for information on the disease, I came across an article in the online British Journal of Sports Medicine titled “Can Patients with McArdle’s Disease Run?” whose abstract follows:

Patients with McArdle’s disease commonly adopt a sedentary lifestyle. This sedentary behaviour, however, usually worsens the limited exercise capacity of these patients. Although eccentric muscle work can be associated with rhabdomyolysis, supervised eccentric training with gradually increasing loads has important advantages compared with conventional concentric work, particularly for patients with a poor cardiorespiratory system. We report the beneficial effects (particularly, increased VO2peak (from 14.6 to 30.8 ml /kg/min) and increased gross muscle efficiency (from 13.8% to 17.2%)) induced by a supervised aerobic training programme of 7 months duration including 3–4 running sessions ((60 min/session) per week in a 38-year-old patient. These preliminary data suggest the potential therapeutic value of this type of exercise in these patients. 

This is encouraging, because it is confirms what I already suspected: that diligent and careful but nonetheless moderately intense exercise may be the only effective therapy for McArdle’s disease capable of improving quality of life.

To read more, click  here: http://bjsm.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/41/1/53.pdf (free registration is required.)

9 thoughts on “Can Patients with McArdle’s Disease Run?

  1. MARK

    I JUST RECENTLY WAS DIAGNOSED WITH MCARDLES, PREVIOUSLY WAS THOUGHT TO HAVE POLYMYOSITIS,WHICH IS MUCH MORE SERIOUS. I HAVE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME THAT I HAD A MUSCLE-RELATED PROBLEM, TIRING TOO QUICKLY WHEN EXERCISING. I AM NOW ON AN EXERCISE PROGRAM, PRIMARILY WALKING 4-5 MILES A DAY WHEN I CAN. I AM INTERESTED IN HEARING FROM OTHERS AS TO WHAT THEY DO TO HELP WITH THIS CONDITION

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  2. Sherry

    I was diagnosed at the age of 21 after an acute case of rhadomyolysis. I also knew from growing up that I was different or crazy! I tried and tried to run in gym class, do sit-ups, etc. When I was in 1st grade, I literally passed out after not beign able to move anymore when required to do square dancing in front of our parents at a PTA meeting. I was diagnosed through CPK blood tests, a muscle biopsy and the ischemic arm test. I disaagree with the ability to be able to run for miles. When I have conditioned myself by walking 3-4 times a week, for a mile, I have at my best been able to run for 1/2 a block,before my muscles and legs almost totally gave out.

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  3. Doug

    Im looking for some info from anyone with Mcardles disease. My main question is how any of you reading this were diagnosed?? Blood test for CKP counts? Muscle biopsies… What were some of your early symptoms prior to diagnosis?? Thank you much for any imput you can offer.Doug

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  4. kath

    Hi I was diagnosed in 1991 however knew from childhood that there was something wrong with my muscles.I have had various episodes of muscle melt down requiring hospitalization.Reading the comments above it would appear that there are varying degrees of McArdles as I have difficulty on inclines, stairs in particular and really just walking any distance.Good luck to those who can run and exercise but I don’t expect you will pass me on the road any day soon.

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  5. Site Admin Post author

    @Kyle

    Kyle, the cramping injuries characteristic of McArdle’s disease occur as muscles abruptly run out of chemical energy and stop responding. The exact nature of this cramp hasn’t been described, but it has been observed to be “electrically silent” and thus distinct from muscle cramps caused by nerve impulses.

    It is worth noting that a countless number of factors probably influence the impact McArdle’s disease has on any one individual. Some people are tall, others are short; some people are predisposed to have higher resting metabolic rates while some people have hereditary back problems or hay fever. Questions of what is or isn’t possible should foremost take personal safety into consideration, and then be framed in a relative context with respect to an individual’s unique combination of attributes and limitations.

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  6. Kyle

    How can one tell if on going muscle cramps and aches in legs from running are from McArdles/other muscle enzyme disorders, or from just being out of shape?

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  7. Will

    Some can, some can’t, however well conditioned they become. McArdles knowledge is at best patchy and their seems to be a great variety in experience across patients. Being able to, and regularly achieving, ‘second wind’ seems to help those patients who can manage it.

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  8. Will

    I do think this is a bit misleading and might raise false hope. Some McArdle’s people, like myself, are not capable of running at all, however well ‘conditioned’ we become. I spent two years plus eating carefully, walking on a treadmill daily, going up inclines and trying to run and the most i could ever manage was about 5-10 seconds, or suffer severe incapacitating leg seizures/cramps. McArdles disease seems to vary greatly from patient to patient in severity and it annoys me to see these sort of generalisations made about the disease, especially from sources such as this. There is some truth in the conditioning argument however my personal experience is it is a mixed blessing – muscles can feel ‘looser’ but also feel like they have less ‘energy’ to operate with after exercise, and therefore are weaker, anyway. So, my advice would be don’t over do it, running is not a goal to aim for, gentle prolonged walking is.

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  9. Tammy

    After reading this article I have to totally agree being that before I knew I had MCArdles disease I knew my body needed to exercise in order to function better. My choice of exercise happens to be running. I run 4-5 days a week 4-7 miles a day. If I dont run for a couple of days in a row my muscles start to stiffen and I become extremely fatigued. I feel much better when I start my day running. I found that if I dont run fast just a moderate speed I dont get injured. If I eat high carbs and run I tighten up and fatigue quickly during and after my run. I will not function well at all during the remaining day. However, if I eat protein and simple carbs and take vitamins including extra vitamin B I feel much better and more energetic. Hallelujah!

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