A well-known mantra exists in the multiple sclerosis (MS) community. I first heard it after my diagnosis and have since adopted it as my own.
“Move it or lose it.”
Movement is essential for everyone’s health and well-being. For those of us with multiple sclerosis, it is imperative. Regular activity will help to strengthen the parts of your body that you can move and the muscles that may have atrophied due to lack of movement.
I understand how difficult it can be to exercise. My foot and toes on my right side can’t move on their own because of neurodegeneration. But I still move them every day. I find a place where I can employ my calf muscles. I push my toes up against the ottoman and move my knee. I hold onto a chair to stretch my calves.
Aquatic therapy is a wonderful alternative for many with MS. The buoyancy of a pool creates resistance and enables us to move weaker muscles. I use my large, tepid Jacuzzi to do leg stretches.
Most of my exercises are flexibility- and balance-related. I stretch and try to hold positions. I use my own body as resistance and have found this to be helpful in reducing the severity of my spasticity. Because of my vulnerability to falls, I consistently work on balance; these exercises keep me off the floor and strengthen my core.
Consult your neurologist before embarking on any movement program. You may have secondary issues that prevent you from doing some exercises. However, do not dismay: You are your own litmus, and any movement is a step in the right direction.
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