Can't build flexibility or strength in muscles

I've tried many times over the last few years to start stretching regularly, and less often I do regular strength exercises as well. Sometimes I think I'm more flexible during one or two sessions, and often less so in others, but in the end my condition doesn't change at all. I always end up falling out of the routine eventually because I'm weak and have really poor flexibility, so the exercises are always challenging.

I've tried to change aspects of my routine, extending or shortening the times I'll hold stretches, keeping sessions shorter or lengthening them, changing the impact of the exercises, etc. Even doing very gentle stretches, my muscles feel awful. I don't know how to explain it, but it's like I'm causing them a huge amount of strain and injury despite hardly stretching them at all. I have a lot of tension in my muscles at rest, and usually it's painful stretching them. They do tend to feel somewhat better after stretching though, so I'd like to be able to do it regularly. I'm limited in the exercises I can do due to POTs symptoms and so on, but poor flexibility is the biggest hurdle, as it's a struggle even getting into restful positions to stretch.

Has anyone else had similar issues?
yes. I once went to a physiotherapist who started me off with gentle exercises with the intention of gradually building up strength and endurance in my back muscles. I have sclorosis. I then got a crash at some point and it didn't work. I do have flexibility and need to rule out Erlos Danlos at some point. But muscles stay weak despite stretching and numerous efforts to improve
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Senior Member
Early on in the disease I had a lot of issues like this and my doctor started me on a gym program for strength and cardio. Ultimately what happened was I gained strength but then had a very big crash. I worked out a way even with wildly fluctuations in heart rate to continue doing some strenght training with sets separated by up to 10 minutes or so while watching resting heart rate and stopping the moment it wasn't returning to baseline and while I did gain strength (and flexibility which is mostly about opposite muscle strength btw, stretches don't do a whole lot without strength) I also crashed super hard doing it after I caught covid.

So there is in my history a post about how I did this using resistance bands and continued exercising right to the point where I couldn't get out of bed. I don't recommend it. I do think there is a bare minimum you have to do, usually core and around the upper legs to stop your back just completely killing in agony and those you have no choice about (the back big 3) but I am no longer of the opinion its worth fixing until there is a significant improvement in exercise tolerance generally, anything you do is flying close to the sun and stopping recovery.

vision blue

Senior Member
I have similar issue to you. muscles will not strenthen and stretching produces bad outcomes. I cannot do repititons. I have "muscle soreness" sensations in my legs all the time, i think just because i need to walk around to live! No one understood any of this and I stopped telling people. I've tried PT twice - long stories. I feel like i have the opposite of EDS - things are pretty stuff - I cannot eg fully extend my knee and if i try or its forced i get big big big problems.

anyway, reason i posted is the only thing i can do, and it has helped me, so maybe it can help you, is to think ROM (range of motion) rather than stretching. If you don't have full range of motion in any joint, start working on that. I have to work at a pace that is so much slower and more gentle with only 1 repitition than any PT would do, so i have to do it on my own - but it has helped. I did learn though from a PT how to do some of them and then i genearlized when i realized the basic principle.

i can go through in more deatils how i've done it if that would be useful.


Senior Member
Same issue here - and I kept trying PT and resistance bands right up until the more severe level. I also view that exercising as one of the causes of my repeated crashes, despite doing the lightest bands or zero resistance bikes.

If my body responded more normally, these would be great help. As it is, I tried all kinds of exercise (resistance bands, stationary bikes, isometric yoga, etc), and all of it led to crashes.

Myhill (who I have mixed feelings about) recommends that you do zero exercise until you're in the more moderate-mild range, then carefully controlled - I think maybe once per week or something with long recovery periods. That makes some intuitive sense to me after trying five minutes of resistance bands every other day which was way too much for me. (And I was someone who loved the gym before this whole disorder.)

I also tried every supplement or medication around to try to improve muscle strength and nothing seemed to really help.