Exercise is vital not just for overall well-being — it can also assist with managing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). According to a review which was published in August 2016 in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, in people who have MS, exercise has been linked with a reduced relapse rate, lower lesion volume, slower progression of the disease, as well as improved performance on neurological tests.
Another study which was published in July 2017 in Multiple Sclerosis made the finding that resistance training in particular may increase cortical thickness in individuals with relapsing-remitting MS. This suggests that this type of exercise can assist with combatting brain atrophy, which is linked with disease progression in MS.
More recently, a March 2020 review that was published in BMC Neurology found that physical exercise can drastically reduce fatigue in people who have MS. Another recent study, which was published in July 2020 in the Journal of Neurology, made the finding that regular physical activity assist people who have MS to maintain volume in the hippocampus region of the brain.
However before you get started exercising, a physical therapist should assess your strengths and weaknesses in order to determine what type of exercise programme would be best for you. However here are some ideas about appropriate exercises.
Exercises For Balance
Stretching is, undoubtedly, one of the most helpful physical activities for bettering balance and coordination. It’s also easy for individuals of all physical activity levels.
In addition, stretching can assist with improving your posture and preventing aches and pains that are associated with MS. Gentle stretching can also assist with warming up muscles for movement. This is very important if you’ve been not active for a long period of time.
Warming up and moving your muscles slowly will also assist with preventing torn muscles, strains and sprains. You should stretch after you wake up or after you’ve been sitting for long periods of time. Seated stretching is simpler and safer for beginners.
Stretching Exercise: Hip Marching
- Sit in a sturdy chair and make sure that your back touches the back of the chair.
- Put your hands easily on your legs.
- Gradually lift your left leg straight up, leaving your knee bent.
- Hold this position for a count of 5 (or as long as it is comfortable for you), and then return your foot to the floor.
- Repeat with your other leg.
Pilates For MS
Pilates may be the perfect exercise option for someone who has early symptoms of MS. Pilates exercises can assist with activating the smaller stabilising muscles which make human movement possible..
The roll-up is a phenomenal exercise to activate the deep abdominal muscles which are responsible for stabilising the spine. Maintaining this function is super important for balance, which can be one of the biggest limiters for people with advanced MS.
Pilates Exercise: Roll Ups
- Lie down on your back on a Pilates mat with your legs stretched straight out in front of you. Reach overhead and take hold the end of the mat with your fingertips.
- Exhale and attempt to pull your stomach in towards the floor.
- While still holding onto the mat, slowly peel your shoulder blades and upper back off the floor, while pushing your head back into the mat gently.
- Pause for two seconds, trying to feel that contraction in your abdominals.
- Reverse the movement slowly, lowering your upper back down to the floor.
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