Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It is characterised by the destruction of myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds nerve fibres, resulting in impaired communication between the brain and other parts of the body. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, spasticity, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. While there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, exercise physiology can play an important role in managing the condition and improving quality of life for those living with MS.
Exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits for people with multiple sclerosis, including improving strength, balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. It can also help to reduce fatigue, depression, and anxiety, which are common symptoms of MS. Moreover, exercise has been found to have neuro-protective effects, promoting the growth of new nerve cells, and enhancing the brain's ability to adapt to changes in the environment.
One of the key challenges for people with MS is maintaining an exercise routine that is safe, effective, and sustainable. This requires a personalised approach that considers the individual's abilities, preferences, and goals, as well as any limitations or contraindications related to their condition. An exercise physiologist can help to develop an exercise program that is tailored to the specific needs of each person with multiple sclerosis, based on a thorough assessment of their physical function, medical history, and lifestyle factors.
Some of the types of exercise that may be beneficial for people with multiple sclerosis include:
Resistance training - this involves using weights or resistance bands to perform exercises that target specific muscle groups. Resistance training can help to improve strength, balance, and coordination, as well as increase bone density and reduce the risk of falls.
Aerobic exercise - this includes activities that increase heart rate and breathing, such as walking, cycling, or swimming. Aerobic exercise can improve cardiovascular fitness, reduce fatigue, and enhance mood.
Balance and coordination exercises - these exercises focus on improving balance and coordination, which can help to reduce the risk of falls and improve overall mobility. Examples include standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, and practicing tai chi or yoga.
Flexibility exercises - these involve stretching and lengthening the muscles to improve range of motion and reduce muscle stiffness. Flexibility exercises can be especially beneficial for people with MS, who may experience muscle tightness and spasticity.
In addition to these types of exercise, it is also important for people with multiple sclerosis to engage in regular physical activity throughout the day, such as taking short walks or stretching breaks, to avoid prolonged periods of inactivity. This can help to
maintain muscle function, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of complications such as pressure sores and blood clots.
Another important aspect of exercise physiology for people with multiple sclerosis is monitoring and managing symptoms during and after exercise. This may involve adjusting the intensity, duration, or type of exercise based on changes in symptoms, such as increased fatigue or muscle weakness. It may also involve using strategies such as cooling vests or hydration to prevent overheating, which can exacerbate symptoms in some people with multiple sclerosis.
There are also other lifestyle factors that may be important for people with multiple sclerosis, such as a healthy diet, stress management, and adequate rest and sleep. By taking a comprehensive approach to managing the condition, people with multiple sclerosis can optimise their health and well-being and live their lives to the fullest
Exercise physiology can play a valuable role in the management of multiple sclerosis by helping people with the condition to maintain physical function, improve quality of life, and reduce the risk of complications. By working with an exercise physiologist, people with MS can develop a personalised exercise program that is safe, effective, and enjoyable, and that can be adapted overtime as their needs and abilities change.
At SCREP we take a personalised approach when seeing people with multiple sclerosis to target activities and exercises that are beneficial in promoting continued mobility and contributing to overall health and wellbeing. We ensure to keep up with the most recent research to ensure best clinical practice is enforced throughout our programs for you.