When it comes to multiple sclerosis everyone’s symptoms and progression is different. That is why your exercise prescription should be too! Whether you have had one initial relapse or many, whether your decline was big or small once remitted there are exercises to help. Here are some considerations for exercise treatment and why it will help manage MS.
People with MS will often have issues with balance at some stage of their disease progression. Depending on affected limbs, progression or lasting deficits from relapses will determine the extent balance is affected. It is also important to incorporate balance exercises in anyone with MS program to maintain or prevent decline. Safety is paramount so prescribing exercises that whilst challenge and improve the person they are both comfortable and confident with completing. It may mean that some people with MS need more seated exercises or some may need more falls prevention/balance work than others. These exercises may include more walking or dynamic balance exercises to help reduce reliance on walking aids or delay the use of walking aids.
Have you heard or do you suffer from Uhthoff’s phenomenon? If you don’t know it’s a phenomenon with people with MS where they may experience an increase of symptoms when their core temperature is higher. Some people with MS will be more affected by heat than others but is an important consideration for exercise. It may mean they require more rest breaks and drink breaks to lower their core temperature or that exercising in cool environments and cool clothing is required.
One big aim of exercise treatment for MS is for the person to maintain function for as long as possible. We do this through prescribing resistance based exercises to make sure the muscles that complete our activities of daily living are strong. This will vary person to person depending on their affected body parts or what activities they find challenging. Improving strength in people with MS will help to reduce the impact of a relapse and the progression of the condition following. Maintaining strength will delay the need for assistance aids for people with MS.
Fatigue is a symptom that most people with MS will experience, their body is working harder to complete tasks. If more brain concentration is required to perform a movement due to difficulty or balance requires more energy. Exercises that may require more concentration will likely be easier to complete first and at the best times of the day. It’s a bit of a paradox but regularly completing exercise gives us more energy because the body is more efficient at creating the energy we need.
There are many considerations to consider when creating an exercise program for MS, the most important thing the exercises should be specific to your needs and symptoms.
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us or book an appointment now!