Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disabling disease of the spinal cord and the brain. In this disease, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, which covers the nerve fibers and it leads to communication problems between the brain and the other parts of the body. This disease can eventually cause nerve deterioration or permanent damage.
If you have multiple sclerosis and if you want to feel better then exercise is an effective way to feel better. It might sound crazy and many patients suffering from multiple sclerosis avoid exercise. They think it shall aggravate their pain or might make fatigue worse. However, according to research, the opposite is actually true. Exercises can improve symptoms and make life easy.(1)
Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis
Following are some highly effective exercise for multiple sclerosis:(1,2)
Working out in water pools is a great activity with patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.(2) Water walking, swimming and water aerobics may be adapted for a wide range of symptoms of multiple sclerosis right from mild to severe. Use wet belts, water weights, and pool equipments for an effective cardio workout. Try to do 30 minutes of water aerobics for a minimum of 3-4 times a week. If the water is overheated then it might worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms. Ensure the water is not too warm in the pool.
Strength training must be a part of the multiple sclerosis exercises regime. The wall squats can strengthen the leg muscles. For doing this exercise, stand against the wall with your back keeping your feet 2 feet in front and maintaining a hip-width distance between the two feet. Now, slide your back down and bend your knees until your knees are at 90 degrees. Hold your position for 30-60 seconds and go back to the starting position. Begin your exercise with five repetitions till the time you familiarize yourself and you know how you can push up and slide with good posture. In case your knees trouble you, do not slide down lower.
You can add hand weights to the exercise. Begin with no weights till the time you feel comfortable when you do 10-12 repetitions. Slowly add little weights and gradually increase.
Planks as an Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis
Planks are good exercises to strengthen your core muscles. It strengthens the obliques, abdominals, and the back muscles. To do the exercise, lie down on the exercise mat with face down and place your forearms and toes on the floor. The elbows must be placed directly below the shoulders and the forearms facing in front. Now, raise the body to form a straight line from ears to toes without bending or slouching any part of the body. Ensure that your shoulders are down and not creeping upwards towards your ears. Hold the position for 10 seconds and slowly lower down to the ground.
Traditional planks may be difficult for several people. If you find traditional planks tough you can try out modified planks. Start with lying down on your tummy like in the plank exercise. Keep your elbow right below your shoulders and forearm rested on the mat pointing forward. Slowly, tighten your abdominal and glutes muscles and raise your body keeping your knees on the ground. Hold the position for a few seconds and go back to the starting position.
Bridge Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis
Bridges are great exercises for conditioning your glutes, legs, abdominal muscles, and lower back. Lie down on your back while bending the knees. Do not arch or press your back to the floor; keep it in a neutral position. Now, tucking in your tummy, raise your hips up until it is in line with your knees and shoulder. Hold the position for a few seconds and slowly go back to the starting position.
Wall push-ups are the body exercises of the upper part that help in building strength in the pectorals, triceps, and deltoids. This can be performed either in a seated or a standing position. Stand in front of the wall keeping a distance of 2 feet between the wall and your feet. Your legs and feet should be together. Keep your palm on the wall shoulder-width apart at the shoulder level and your fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Now, slowly lean towards the wall till your nose almost touches the wall by bending your elbow. Hold the position for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Overhead Press for Multiple Sclerosis
The upper-body strengthening exercise can help in making daily tasks easier for people suffering from multiple sclerosis.(3) In this exercise, one will have to stand with a bar on the shoulders holding it with the hands. Take a deep breath and push the bar upwards above your head until your hands are straight and the bar is balanced. Hold the bar for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
Balance Training as an Effective Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis
Balance training is very important for multiple sclerosis. Balance training exercises can be done in many ways such as one leg balance, leg swings, tightrope walk, heel-toe walking etc.
Lunges as an Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis
Lunges are lower-body exercises, which build up strength in your hamstrings, quads, and ankles thus improving your balance. When you do a lunge for the very first time, ensure that you perform it near a countertop or sturdy furniture so that you get the necessary support that you need. If you have major balance issues or trouble while walking it will not be appropriate to try it. To do lunges, stand with your right foot forward and left foot around 3 feet apart. Now, bend your knees to lower your body keeping the head, neck and back straight. Be sure not to bend forward and lower down straight. Hold the position for a few seconds and return back to the starting position making sure that your torso is straight and your tummy is tucked in. Repeat on the other side as well.
Physical activity or exercises counter muscle weakness and prevent your lungs and heart from working hard. Exercises are necessary for overall well-being. Moreover, it can help to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis like fatigue, muscle weakness, poor balance and depression to name a few.(4) Exercise can help with weight management for patients with multiple sclerosis and it improves your mood by releasing endorphins which also helps in making you feel better and thus cater to depression.(4)
If you want the best results then exercise most days of a week. However, to prevent injury and burnout, you should pace yourself. Exercises can reduce the relapse rate, minimizing the progression of a disease, lesser lesion volume, and improved performance. Before you begin exercising, physical therapists must evaluate your weaknesses and strengths and decide the kind of exercises that are best for you so that your exercises prove to be beneficial.
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- Remedies to Combat Constipation In Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- What Kind Of Pain Does Multiple Sclerosis Cause?
- How Do You Get Multiple Sclerosis?
- What Happens To A Person With Multiple Sclerosis?