Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease afflicting the central nervous system of 400,000 Americans and two to three million people worldwide. The initial inflammatory response attacks or scars the myelin sheath covering the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, and the scar-like plaque of the myelin can impede conduction or transmission of the nerve signals. This may lead to many signs and symptoms such as muscle weakness, fatigue, immobility, balance and coordination challenges, dizziness, vertigo, pain, and other symptoms that can affect activities of daily living.
The initial diagnosis of MS may occur as early as your 20s or as late as your 50s, and it affects women at a rate two to three times higher than men. The effects of MS vary from one individual to the next, but they follow a given progression over time. There are four progressions of MS: relapse remitting MS (RRMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), and progressive relapsing MS (PRMS).
MS affects a person’s ability to exercise based on the signs and symptoms associated with the disease. Individuals with MS usually have lower exercise tolerance and report a higher rate of perceived exertion when compared to people of similar age without MS. However, persons with MS who are mild to moderately disabled respond positively to aerobic exercise. In exercise training studies, they demonstrated improved oxygen capacity, increased fatigue tolerance and walking capacity, as well as improved activities of daily living. Based on the level of disability, aerobic exercise on a recumbent bike can benefit a person with MS while reducing the risk of falling during the exercise period. For individuals who are wheelchair bound, upper body aerobic endurance training can be beneficial. Therefore, tossing a ball to a partner or against a wall can be beneficial.
Muscles weakness is often a symptom reported by individuals with MS. Resistance training has shown significant improvement in isometric strength and power. Additional benefits include improved functional capacity, greater muscular endurance, better balance, improved walking gaits, and reduced symptomatic fatigue. Consequently, resistance training on selectorized equipment targeting large and small muscles groups are recommended based on the individual’s level of disability.
Due to the many symptoms of MS, special considerations should be taken:
- Maintain hydration. Persons with MS have reduced thermoregulation. Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration!
- Reduce intensity duration during period of severe exacerbation of symptoms. Focus on flexibility exercises during such periods.
- Allow long rest periods during exercise to avoid onset of fatigue and encourage muscle recovery.
- Include functional training when possible. Perform exercises such as sit-to-stand, steps on stairs, high knees, leg lifts, kicks, low punch, middle punch, high punch, side steps and stepping over obstacles/hurdles.
- Include 3-5 minute warm-up/cool down periods before/after exercise.
- Maintain proper posture.
- Level of disability must be taken into consideration for all exercises.
If you or a loved one has any questions or concerns about MS or how the exercises mentioned can benefit, please contact us! You can submit a form through FYZICAL First, and our team will reply within 24hrs!
interested in Personal Training for MS? Call 239-561-1177 to schedule a free consultation with Romel Philizaire