MS and Exercise: What Spring Training Looks Like to Me
My exercise routine was first disrupted by the pandemic. SO Hurricane Ian landed a right hook on my Florida community’s drill room, knocking her out of action. But soon after, my thoughts turned to something sweeter – pitchers and catchers returning to spring training here in the The state of the shining sun – and I finally went back to my own spring training.
I’m a big believer that exercise is good for my multiple sclerosis (SP). It helps both my body and my mind. It can be aerobic Or aquatic – I do both.
I’ve always exercised alone, but this year I joined the YMCA and hired a personal trainer. I wanted to know what I had done right and what I had done wrong. My goal was simply to work my upper body – arms, chest and core – like I always have. Tabatha, my new coach, had other ideas.
Focus on my MS
Considering my MS and realizing that my legs probably needed more attention than my upper body, Tabatha started by exercises to stretch my very tight hamstrings, stretch and strengthen my hip flexors and strengthen my buttocks. This was all meant to make it easier for me to do things like get up from a chair and stand longer. An improvement in my walking would be the icing on the cake.
“Why do guys always want to work their arms and chest?” Tabatha asked laughing.
“Maybe because I’m 74 and want to look like I’m 50,” I thought, smiling.
Get on with it
When you pay for something, you feel more obligated to use it, so I signed up for a series of four 30-minute sessions and scheduled them twice a week.
We first worked with light weights, which I lifted while sitting in a chair, to strengthen my arms. But Tabatha quickly moved me to a stretching table (I call it the rack). Lying on my back, I wrap a strap around my foot, straighten my leg and pull on the strap to raise the leg as high as possible. So I hold it there. I feel it in my hamstrings and biceps – a two for one.
“Okay, that’s one. Let’s do 10,” Tabatha suggested kindly. (I hate to call it a request.) After the 10, I cross my right leg over the left to stretch my right hip muscle. Naturally, the process repeats itself on my left side. It’s simple but effective, and I can walk a little better right after doing this stretch.
There’s also bridging, or lifting my butt off the mat with my knees bent so my back forms a bridge. It helps stretch and strengthen my back and core. There are repeated ascents and descents of the chair – simple for a healthy person, but difficult for me, even with my two canes. But it gets easier and it helps my legs, glutes and core – a three for one.
I tried a rowing machine for a full workout, but found it too difficult to position myself in its low seat. something called a NuStepwhich is a seated elliptical, gave me a similar workout and was much easier for me to handle.
I went through my first four workouts with eight more. I feel better. I stand a little straighter when I think about doing it. Now I pretty much know what I’m doing when I exercise.
I don’t recommend you do the exercises I did. One size definitely doesn’t fit all, so I’m grateful for Tabatha’s advice. And you don’t need to have a trainer, or even join a gym, to stay in shape.
THE Multiple Sclerosis Trust website has a great page full of exercises, designed for people with MS, that you can do at home. THE ChairFit with Nancy’s YouTube channel also offers a series of exercise videos designed for people with MS. You can find other sites if you do a search.
So see your doctor to make sure there’s no reason you shouldn’t exercise, and if you get the all clear, go for it. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Please share your exercise experiences in the comments section. I also invite you to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosticOr treatment. This content is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to stimulate discussion of issues relating to multiple sclerosis.
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