Multiple Sclerosis Stretching and Balancing Exercises

Multiple Sclerosis Stretching and Balancing Exercises

What if there was one simple thing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients could do every day to increase energy levels, reduce fatigue, and help prevent the chance of injury from falls? 

Great news—there are simple exercises you can do at home without expensive gym memberships or special equipment. Try these stretching, strengthening, and balance moves to help improve your overall wellness. 

Marching in Place for Balance

Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Contract your abdominal muscles, and slowly bring one knee off the floor in a marching position. Lift the thigh parallel to the floor if you can. 

Pause for a count of three, and slowly lower the leg. Repeat on the other side. Continue for five repetitions, working your way up to 10–15 repetitions.

Wall Push-Ups for Stretching and Upper-Body Strength

Stand or sit facing a wall, approximately two feet away, with your feet together. Place both palms flat on the wall with arms straight at shoulder height, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Lean in, keeping elbows tucked to your sides. Bring your nose close to the wall, and feel the gentle stretching in your calves and chest. Hold for one breath, checking to make sure your back is straight. 

Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat three times, building to as many repetitions as you can.

Single-Leg Pose for Balance

Do this exercise while holding onto a chair or table for stability, especially if you have problems with balance or are receiving treatment for a neurodegenerative condition

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your arms parallel to the floor, keeping one hand on a stable surface. Straighten one leg in front of you with your heel a few inches off the floor. 

Hold and balance for up to 30 seconds. Lower your foot back to the ground. Repeat on both legs for three repetitions.

Over Head Press for Upper-Body Strength

Use lightweight dumbbells for this exercise. If you don’t have weights, try using soup cans or full water bottles.

Holding your weights, stand (or sit) with a straight posture, arms out to your sides, and bent upward with your hands at ear height. Stretch your arms up, keeping your back straight and lifting the dumbbells over your head. Your biceps should be close to your ears. Return to the starting position. Repeat ten times.

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High-Intensity Step Training Can Help Stroke Survivors

High-Intensity Step Training Can Help Stroke Survivors

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked. When the brain cells cannot get sufficient oxygen, they may die off, resulting in lasting symptoms such as difficulty walking and speaking. Although some challenges may be permanent, there are a number of rehabilitative therapies that can help stroke survivors recover as much function as possible. This will shed light on how High-Intensity step training can help stroke survivors.

One form of rehabilitation which has recently emerged as an effective therapy for boosting walking skills is high-step training. While rehabilitative measures typically focus on low-intensity walking to help stroke survivors restore balance and walking skills, experts believed this approach isn’t challenging enough to help patients navigate real-world scenarios. To test their theory, a research team at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis compared the patient outcomes in low-impact training programs against those from a higher-intensity stepping program.

Participants were involved in one of three programs: high-intensity steps with variable tasks, such as steps on uneven surfaces, inclines, or over obstacles while moving forward; high-intensity steps only moving forward; or low-intensity steps with variable tasks. Stroke survivors in both high-intensity groups were able to walk faster and farther than those in the low-intensity group.

In the high-intensity groups, the majority of participants (57% to 80%) made noteworthy clinical gains, but less than a third of participants made the same improvements in the low-intensity group. Participants in the high-intensity group also reported improved balance and confidence.

Although rehabilitative walking programs have historically taken a more gradual approach, these findings suggest that pushing patients to walk further, faster, and across a variety of conditions could challenge the nervous system more effectively. In doing so, stroke survivors may improve mobility and witness noticeable improvements in a shorter amount of time. All in all High-intensity step training can help stroke survivors.

The Role of Exercise in MS Management

The Role of Exercise in MS Management

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. The disorder produces a broad range of symptoms, including fatigue and poor muscle coordination, which can make exercise daunting. Yet, research shows that in addition to prescription-based approaches, complementary therapies such as exercise may help to alleviate symptoms and minimize the risk of secondary conditions. Discover more about the relationship between exercise and MS below.

How Does Exercise Help MS?

Exercise has been shown to improve a number of MS symptoms. In addition to promoting better overall health, embarking on an aerobic fitness routine has helped people with MS improve strength and cardiovascular fitness, maintain better bladder and bowel function, and reduce fatigue and depression. Additionally, exercise program participants have reported a more positive attitude and increased social activity.

What’s the Best Type of Exercise for MS?

While light to moderate activity can help to control MS symptoms, any activity that’s too strenuous can have the opposite effect, exacerbating issues like fatigue and increased risk for injury. It’s, therefore, a good idea to work with a professional, such as a physical therapist, before beginning any new exercise routine.

Light activities like gardening, low-impact aerobic exercises, stretching, and progressive strength training are well-suited for many people with MS. Additionally, water-based exercises are especially ideal. Water provides buoyancy, enabling participants to move in ways they may not be able to on land while eliminating the risk of fall injuries. Plus, accessories like flotation vests and pool noodles can be implemented to maintain safety. Finally, the water keeps participants cool, thereby reducing the risk of overheating which can cause MS symptoms to flare.

If you’re interested in pursuing a fitness program to help manage your MS symptoms, be sure to work with your care providers to find an approach that will best suit you.

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