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?
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
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.
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
When it comes to MS exercise,
it can have different
requirements as to
what we really need to gain from doing
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
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
helping with detoxifying our bodies. Exercising can also help to
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
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
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
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
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
body will feel like it is doing the more intense physical therapy, that
my neurologist said that he wants to send me for anyway.
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.
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
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
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
* 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
-- 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
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
* 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
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
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
* 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
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.
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,
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
you are using for this exercise a few times
with each hand (3 to 5). Alternate which hand that you use
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
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
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
our bodies can handle, while making forward progress in
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
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!