I’ve said in more than one blog that I consider myself to be a healthy person who happens to live with multiple sclerosis (MS). “Healthy,” perhaps, but lately I’ve found myself significantly out of shape.
With all that 2016 has brought upon me, I decided to ask my wife, Caryn, for help in getting onto a stretching program to help with the things that MS has thrown my way.
How to Stretch With MS
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has set out the following guidelines for people with MS as we get into a stretching routine:
- Stretch on a daily basis, as much as is possible.
- Include muscle groups that are tight or in spasm.
- Do slow, gentle, prolonged stretches, and go just to the point where you feel a gentle pulling, but not pain.
- Hold stretches for 20 to 60 seconds or 5 to 10 breaths.
- Avoid bouncing movements.
- Use assistance as needed: a partner, towel, or strap (talk to a yoga teacher or physical therapist about what you can use to help you stretch — and how to use it).
Most of the stretching I’ve been doing has included some form of assistance — be it a chair, the wall, or often, Caryn herself. My balance has become something of an issue, so having something or someone to hold onto while stretching has been helpful.
Also helpful for when balance is even more of an issue is an illustrated, online manual from the NMSS called Stretching for People With MS.
This manual has drawings of stretches that can be done seated or lying down. It has specific stretches for some areas of spasticity and other difficulties that commonly affect people with MS.
For my own routine, I’ve dug out my physical therapist’s notes from after my hip replacement to help ease some stiffness in that area of the old body, particularly.
How My Stretching Is Paying Off