Living MS Naturally
Living an active, fulfilling & amazing life with MS
Never having been a runner, I have no idea what a “runner’s high” feels like but the feeling of creating strength gives an internal power like no other. MS can cause weakness and limbs can go completely numb. It feels as if we have no control of our bodies. It is literally a defeating feeling that we can change into a feeling of control all from strength training. This does not mean we have to aspire to a bodybuilder type. Most do not have to worry about becoming “too big” “too muscular”, etc. You may find, in fact, as you become stronger, you become leaner. Key areas that I found to be beneficial are core strength which helps with balance and leg strength which assists walking. As I strengthen my core (this does not only include the abs but around the entire mid-section including the back) I find I can engage my core at times when I typically lose my balance. For instance, we were recently on a monorail that was literally wall to wall people. A handrail was available but the push and pull of the car as well as the people rocking back and forth made standing difficult. Tightening my core – keeping a slight bend in the knees – feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and balance is achieved. This does not mean a life devoted to crunches. In fact, I rarely do these or the multitude of varieties of crunches out there. The classic plank is the way to go. Begin easy – as with everything – it is a practice. Alignment and form are crucial and can be found here: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/plank-pose And, do not be concerned about the length of time you are able to hold this pose. It is more about consistency. You will be able to hold for longer periods or add variations of the pose to increase strength at some point. Start this practice today – no, start it right now and find ways to incorporate this into each day. How can leg strength assist with walking? A few years ago, my left knee would completely buckle randomly. When I think about the times this would happen, it occurred when I was overly tired. One time in particular, I was attempting to put a French Crumb Apple Pie in the oven. I often could catch myself when my knee buckled but, me nor the pie was so lucky this time. My husband was worried I was hurt. I was more upset about the pie. After being told by an orthopedic that these buckles were caused by arthritis and my brain “shutting down” my knee to avoid pain (huh?) and my neurologist saying it is “another MS symptom”, I decided to work on strengthening my quads and hamstrings to give the knee the support it needs. Although I now incorporate additional exercises, I began with body squats. No weight, good form, not too fast and giving the core a bonus with a tightening of the abs upon standing. Again, it is about being as consistent as you can. Stronger legs have lead to improved walking with no knee buckling. This strength can give you power in more ways than one. Your confidence will grow and you will see how these small, slow steps can help that feeling of defeat disappear.