Anyone suffering from multiple sclerosis has a distinct and profound need to exercise. Maintaining muscle mass will help with retaining function and even assisting with posture. Resistance exercise is essential as it improves bone mineral density which can help avoid the onset of osteoporosis. If you have multiple sclerosis, do not begin an exercise program without consulting your physician or neurologist, and an assessment by a physical therapist will help you determine what exercises you should be performing.
Anyone with multiple sclerosis who is still ambulatory needs to maintain this ability, and walking on a treadmill is a way to track your progress. A decent treadmill will not only record speed and distance, but will enable you to change the elevation at which you walk, which can strengthen your legs and increase the stretch reflex in your calves. Your training is not just about strengthening the muscles, it is about getting your nervous system to respond, so use variety in your walking patterns.
You do not need to lie across a ball in an attempt to gain an increased range of motion on exercises, but lying back on one can be a good stretch for your lower back and hip flexors. Using a ball in place of a chair will force the muscles that maintain your posture to work harder, which will help strengthen them. A ball can also be used against a wall as a support to perform squats. With the ball in-between your back and the wall, squat down as low as you comfortably can and stand back up. The ball will help you maintain proper posture and keep you from falling.
Bands of differing levels of resistance are excellent all-purpose tools. Not only can they duplicate many exercises that are normally performed with barbells, they can be used to assist with stretching as well. To work your back, wrap a band around a bar with one end in each hand. Back up until there is no slack in the band, then pull your elbows back as far as you can. Repeat this for 15 to 20 repetitions. To stretch your shoulders, grip a band with your hands twice as wide as your shoulders and pull them apart so there is no slack in the band. Raise your arms over your head and rotate them back as far as they will go without losing tension in the band. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds.
Upper Arm Ergometer
An upper arm ergometer is often referred to as a UBE bike. It is a device that functions just like a bicycle, except you pedal with your hands. This not only provides cardiovascular activity, it is also commonly used to test respiratory function in those suffering from multiple sclerosis. Multiple types of the UBE bike exist, including those structured to allow someone confined to a wheelchair to use the device effectively.
- "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research"; Changes in Bone Mineral Density in Response to 24 Weeks of Resistance Training in College-age Men and Women; Harold C. Almstedt, et al.; July 2010
- "Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism"; Changes in Muscle Activity and Perceived Exertion During Exercises Performed on a Swiss Ball; P. Marshall et al., August 2006
- "The European Respiratory Journal"; Respiratory Muscle Function and Exercise Capacity in Multiple Sclerosis; K. Foglio, et al., January 1994