Muscle spasticity is one of the most challenging symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Patients with MS often experience a tightening or stiffening of the lower body muscles in the legs, groin, buttocks, and back.
Muscle spasticity can affect the ability to stand, walk, and balance and is one of the biggest detriments to a patient’s quality of life. Muscle spasticity can worsen during quick stretches or movements. However, when done correctly, gentle stretches can help patients manage spasticity effectively.
While lying on your back, bend your knees at a 45-degree angle, draw them together, and gently let both knees lower to one side, holding for 30 seconds. Then pull the knees back to the center and slowly lower them to the other side.
In this hip stretch, your goal is to decrease tightness, not get your knees to the floor, so only lower them as far as it feels okay. Keep your arms out to the side in a “T,” palms down. Move slowly.
Hip Flexor Stretches
Lying on your back, rest on the lower half of your bed with your knees and lower legs hanging off the edge. You should feel a stretch in your hip flexors located at the front of your hip. Aim to build up to a 30-second, then 60-second hold.
Placing a rolled-up towel on the floor, step on the towel with the ball of your foot, keeping your weight on the back of the foot. Then, step the opposite foot slightly forward, still maintaining the weight on the back of the foot, stretching the calf.
When seated, place a rubber ball on the floor and roll your foot over the ball, paying particular attention to places on your foot that lack feeling or feel disengaged.
While seated, hold a rolled towel at both ends, wrapping the towel under one foot. Lift the foot and towel with both hands and try to keep the leg extended for up to 30 seconds.
Tips for Exercising with Muscle Spasticity
Muscle spasticity affects everyone differently. If you experience muscle spasticity when extending your legs, avoid stretches that straighten the knee and hip to that point. Also, patients who incorporate stretches regularly see the most benefits and better movement.
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.
Stretching is often touted as an important part of a well-rounded exercise program. Yet, there’s a lot of misinformation that circulates about the practice. For instance, you may have heard:
You won’t benefit unless you hold a stretch for a while.
You shouldn’t bounce while stretching, or you could tear a muscle.
If you fail to stretch before a workout, you’ll injure yourself.
These are actually myths, and in fact, you may wonder whether you really need to stretch at all.
Stretching: The True Story
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should be stretching major muscle groups at least twice a week for 60 seconds per exercise. Stretching can help you stay flexible, supporting better mobility not only now but later in life, too.
For instance, if your back is stiff and sore from staying at your desk during the workday, a stretch such as a cat/cow (getting on all fours then slowly arching and curving your back upwards) can help to reverse some of the effects of staying seated for so long.
With that said, you don’t have to stretch for long periods of time just to get the benefits. Static stretches are meant to last 15 to 30 seconds, while dynamic stretches (in which you move through the stretches) are effective too—especially when completed as part of a warmup routine. Static stretching before a workout has not been shown to prevent injury, enhance performance, or reduce post-workout muscle soreness. Static stretches might even weaken performance because they can tire your muscles. On the other hand, dynamic stretches such as leg swings and walking lunges could help warm the body up before exercise.
Static stretches should therefore be reserved for post-workout. You’ll be more flexible since you’ve been moving your muscles and joints consistently. With that said, if you enjoy doing stretches other times throughout the day—besides when you normally do your workout—there’s no harm in working them in when it’s most convenient for you.
This website and its contents are not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease. Stemedix, Inc. shall not be held liable for the medical claims made by patient testimonials or videos. They are not to be viewed as a guarantee for each individual. The efficacy for some products presented have not been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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