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MS Article or Multiple Sclerosis Article:

 Running Up and Down the

Driveway for MS Exercise? 

Can running up and down the driveway be a good MS exercise, even for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, who are unable to walk and use a wheelchair to get around?

We hear about how those of us with Multiple Sclerosis can get some really good benefits from exercising, but when we it really comes down to it, those of with Multiple Sclerosis often think that exercising is something that is way too difficult for us to do.

This is especially true, if our MS symptoms are more severe to the point that we have more MS fatigue or if we are more disabled because of the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on our bodies.

But what we don't realize sometimes is that even many of what every one else thinks is a "normal every day task" can be exercise for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis.

Doing some type of exercise can actually help to increase our energy levels, increase our stamina, boost our immune systems and give us many other benefits to those of us with Multiple Sclerosis.

An example would be when we have to stand up to get something off of a higher shelf in a kitchen cabinet or walking (or rolling if you are in a wheelchair) up and down a steeper driveway or small hill or picking up something off of the floor that was dropped on the floor.

Doing every day activities requires us to use many different types of muscles and nerves that we often don't realize we are using.  We can use this to our advantage, rather than getting discouraged about the idea of being able to do any exercise at all.

When it comes to MS exercise, it can have different requirements as to what we really need to gain from doing the exercises. 

Exercising helps to get our circulation moving, which in turn brings more oxygen to our muscles, nerves and to our brains.  The added oxygen helps so many of the natural processes in our bodies to function so much better than they would otherwise.

Exercising can help to work the muscles and the nerves to help to regenerate both muscles and nerves, reconnect neural pathways, strengthen the muscles and at the same help our bodies to do a better job absorbing the nutrients from the food that we eat and helping our bodies to do a better job at eliminating waste products or with helping with detoxifying our bodies. Exercising can also help to increase energy levels and with improving stamina and endurance.

Overall exercise, in my opinion, is one of the more important things that we need to find ways for us to be able to do.  We need to find ways to exercise at least 3 or 4 days of each week (more if we can handle it) that can help our bodies to function better again -- without medications, or surgeries.

How can every day activities help those of us with Multiple Sclerosis to exercise?

There are several things that we can do, that we might not even realize -- without having special exercise equipment or having to find someway to afford to go to physical therapy or to the gym to work out.

Well, I recently came with this idea, when my parents went away for 2 weeks and I was home alone for 2 weeks.  Yes, I had friends that checked in on me most days of the week to see if I needed any help with anything.  At this point, I am still unable to walk or drive and I use a wheelchair to get around (although I can't walk or drive yet -- I'm working on changing this one, since I want to walk again!)

We have a very steep driveway (at least a 30 degree angle) that is fairly long that ends at a moderately busy road that has many cars that has a good bit of traffic on it most days.

Since I was home alone, it was my job to go out to the bottom of our driveway to get the newspaper every day and to take out the trash cans 2 or 3 times per week and bring them back up to the top of the driveway, after they were emptied.

I have a manual wheelchair, even though at one point the doctors tried to convince me that it might be a good idea for me to get and use a power chair.  I said, "No" to this idea, since I reasoned that if I had a power chair, I wouldn't use many of my muscles and although my muscles were fairly weak at that point, I thought that my muscles would just become weaker so that I would end up having had no choice other than to rely on using a power chair.

Although, once I started doing my own exercises, it did take a few years for my strength to gradually return, I recently thought that it was safe enough for me to be able to go up and down the driveway on my own, if I took it slowly and I was careful how I did it.

So, even though my legs don't often work very well, I use my hands and my arms every day to transfer to and from the wheelchair and to stand up as much as I can.  Although I haven't been able to stand up and let go to just stand up for any length of time for a few years, my objective is to find a way to change this too!

After 2 weeks of going up and down the driveway in a manual wheelchair each day, I actually was able to stand up and let go for a few minutes at a time for a few days in a row. I haven't been able to do this for a few years!

So, it got me thinking -- if I do what I can to go up and down the driveway each day, 3 to 5 times in a row at least once a day, I think my body will feel like it is doing the more intense physical therapy, that my neurologist said that he wants to send me for anyway.

Doing exercises while going up and down our driveway can help my legs, as well as my arms and other core muscle groupds, like the muscles around the hips and lower back to function better again, to some degree.

Exercises that do a better job at targeting the core muscle groups, for helping to build strength and rebuild muscle include doing more specific exercises, including getting on my hands and knees on the bed or the floor or some type of flat surface to do exercises, as well as lying on my stomach to do leg lift and stretching and strengthening exercises.

 I just started testing out my theory, and I am already seeing some positive results!  I am excited that maybe I just came across a good idea that can help you too!

We need to change the way that we think about what is exercise, in connection with Multiple Sclerosis.  Exercise can help those of us with Multiple Sclerosis to help promote regenerating nerves and muscles for us to function better. No matter how severe your disability is, there are ways to exercise your body that works with your body to help it to gradually work better if done consistently over a period of time.

Okay -- what am I talking about that you can do, as far as "exercise"?

My point is that there are things we can do around our house that can help us exercise like we are going to physical therapy.

Okay -- examples of MS exercise that can be done at home can include:

* picking up cans of food -- we can do this to exercise our hands and arms, sort of like using hand weights and also helping to improve how well our hands work with gripping things and hanging onto them.

* Putting cans of food in a small box and pushing it away from us and pulling it back on a flat surface, like a table -- this can help to exercise the shoulders and the muscles in the upper and lower back.

* Standing up and sitting down -- this can help exercise the upper legs (you can practice doing this even if you have problems standing to help improve how well you can stand, if you do this exercise near a table or a chair to stabilize how well you can stand and to prevent the possibility of your legs or knees collapsing and throwing you on the floor.

* Sitting down with your feet on the floor and picking up your foot and holding it out straight-- do this for however long that you can handle it and then putting your foot back down on the floor and letting your leg rest for a few minutes, then do the same with the other leg; doing this 5 to 10 times with each leg can help to improve muscle strength in the lower legs, as well as help to increase stamina, as well as helping to stretch tight tendons or muscles.  Build up to doing more of this if you need to.  It's okay to do a little at a time to get your body used to exercising again.

* Stretching exercises for the lower back -- can be done even if you are in a wheelchair by sitting down with your feet on the floor, while looking straight ahead and twisting your body to the side, while moving your elbow from one side of your body towards the shoulder on the opposite side of your body.  Do this 5 times on each side.

* Stretching for the legs -- can be done lying down on a bed or a couch with your legs out straight or on some other flat surface.  Start with both of your legs out straight and bend one knee up towards you chest and wrap you arms around your leg while pulling it towards your body. Do this a few times with each leg.

You can also use a towel or a sheet and put it under one of your feet and pull the sheet or towel towards you to stretch your leg.  This can be done with each leg a few times in a row.

* Hand exercises for improving dexterity or fine finger movement -- this can be done by taking a bunch of marbles, dried beans, paper clips, dimes or any other small object and pouring them on a table.   Try to pick up each one separately and place them in a bowel or glass.  This can help to improve how well your fingers and hands can function with your fine finger movements or dexterity.

* Squeeze a bag of flour, powder sugar or anything else that can help to work the muscles in the hands.  Instead of using a bag of something that can spill on you, you can put some dried beans in a clean sock and use this instead or whatever else that you have that you think might help you to exercise your grip strength of your hands.  Squeeze and let go of whatever you are using for this exercise a few times with each hand (3 to 5).  Alternate which hand that you use and rest the one that is not in use.

Not everyone has a steep driveway that they can use to exercise with going up and down, but we need to look around where we live and find things that we can use to help to exercise and reprogram our bodies to start to function better again.

No matter how severe your case of Multiple Sclerosis has become, start doing what you can do and start to add more things to do that were previously too difficult for you to what you do as your body begins to function better again.  For in the end each baby step or small step that we take can help us to regain the abilities to function again that Multiple Sclerosis has taken away from us for a period of time.

As far as MS exercise, doing exercises with MS can give us so many benefits from us finding ways to exercise as much as our bodies can handle, while making forward progress in regaining our abilities to function again. For in the end, we need to do what we can to regain more of our abilities to function again, instead of waiting around for a "quick fix" cure for Multiple Sclerosis to be developed some time down the road.

We need to take charge of our own recoveries and not depend so much on prescription drugs, doctors and physical therapists to help us regain more of the abilities for us to be able to do the things that we enjoyed doing in our lives, before Multiple Sclerosis entered our lives.

If we change the way we think and look at everything that we do each day as having potential to help exercise our bodies, we will find a way or several ways to help our bodies to function better again and recover from the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on our bodies!

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2009. TamingMultipleSclerosis.com All Rights Reserved.