Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an incredibly variable disease, affecting everyone who has it in slightly different (or even wildly different, in some cases) ways. However, a symptom most people have in common – that of muscle degeneration – is one of the more worrisome for those who would still like to remain as strong and mobile as possible. So what are you do to if you want to still work out? If you're looking for physical therapy exercises to keep your muscles from degenerating, here are a few you should know about.
Start Small With Stretches
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), starting physical therapy immediately after a diagnosis of MS can help alleviate mild physical challenges and even slow the progression of the symptoms of the disease. Starting right away will be easier if it's an exercise you can do at home without specialized equipment – so a couple good options are those that focus on balance and stretching, like Tai Chi or yoga.
Both of these techniques can be performed while sitting, standing, or lying down and can be modified as needed while still getting benefits like improved balance (which is often the first thing to go with MS), flexibility, and muscle tone. You don't need a personal trainer for either Tai Chi or yoga; there are plenty of easy-to-follow how-to videos online that walk you through the motions, even demonstrating modified versions of the exercises if you can't do the full one.
Build With Bikes
Not road bikes, which could be dangerous due to your impaired balance and mobility, but rather stationary bikes, which you can find at any gym near you. Start at a speed and resistance that make it feel just a little hard to pedal, then gradually increase your speed and resistance (especially resistance, which will be key in keeping your leg muscles powerful) over the following weeks, months, and years. A stationary bike will help you stave off the degeneration that MS can bring while keeping you in a safe environment.
Practice With Pools
Aquatic therapy (like shallow- or deep-water aerobics) can be extremely helpful if you're feeling a little too shaky on ground to be confident while exercising. Not only does the water help to keep your core temperature down while exercising, ensuring you won't get too hot, but it also gives you a place to work out with gentle resistance, as opposed to the more rigorous challenges of a bike or treadmill. Aerobics can tone muscle over your whole body, making it a good choice if your muscle weakness isn't centered in just your legs or arms.
For more information, consult professionals like the Bayonet Point Health & Rehabilitation Center.