I was a fitness instructor for 20 years before I was diagnosed with MS but even before becoming qualified I was one of the original Jane Fonda “Feel the burn” lycra and leg warmer bods.
Exercise has and hopefully will always been a part of my life but after my diagnosis I realised that burpees were no longer going to be an option for me (I hated them anyway) and I knew that I would need to make some adjustments to the type of exercise I did.
My reasons for exercising have also changed, at one time it was obviously for health benefits but it was about how quick and strong I could make myself, now it is about staying mobile and working within my capabilities and that is where pilates and yoga have been a lifeline for me.
I am exceptionally lucky and the class I attend is specifically for people with chronic conditions and all the exercises are to help improve symptoms. We work a lot on balance, flexibility, mobility of joints and core strength.
We spend time making sure that shoulders, hips, ankles, spine and knees are worked through their natural range of movement, we focus on posture, this helps no end as I find I have problems with my neck and back due to the change in my gait.
I also use yoga poses to not only increase strength in muscles that could become weak overtime but the stretches also help alleviate tightness in areas that are tense due to mobility problems. The class places a good deal of emphasis on ensuring that body weight is centered over the pelvis to give a stable base (invaluable for someone like me who has lesions on the balance part of my brain) and we work on core stability again imperative to improve power through the lower limbs. It is a full body workout!
Also, the class uses a variety of props (even a chair for those days where you need that as a comfort blanket) such as prickly balls which help myofascial release, much easier than using a foam roller when you have mobility problems. We also use bands, weights and small squashy balls that help keep knees in alignment when squatting.
Some mornings when I am tired and don’t feel like going I still get myself ready and go, as I know that my body will feel so much better for it. Not surprisingly it always does, plus that comradeship that you get working out with other people is a mood lifter it sets me up for the entire week.
During my last visit to the neurologist she was impressed with my muscle strength and that given a few moments to adjust I was able to improve my balance.
It is a far cry from how I used to be but again it is a self management tool that helps me think I am taking back a bit of control. Any type of exercise is recommended despite your diagnosis. Give it a whirl I know you won’t be disappointed!
Do you exercise? How has your workouts changed since your diagnosis? What type of exercise is best for you?
Bev Wright was diagnosed with MS on 14th February 2013. It came as a complete shock as she had been a fitness instructor for 20 years. Within two days of her diagnosis she joined the MS Society and has raised over $250,000 for the chronic disease by running the annual ICE Ball.