Balance and coordination issues are among the most prevalent and frustrating symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Experiencing ongoing physical or mental instability can have a significant impact on your quality of life. When multiple sclerosis (MS) attacks your central nervous system, you may encounter symptoms such as numbness and muscle weakness, which can result in a loss of coordination and balance.
Pilates is a method that emphasizes muscle control, flexibility, and core strength, which can help reduce symptoms of MS. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of Pilates for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). We will discuss how to get started with Pilates, what to expect during a Pilates session, and provide helpful advice and safety measures to keep in mind while performing Pilates exercises.
Understanding Multiple Sclerosis and Pilates
Multiple sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS, is a chronic disorder that affects the central nervous system. It leads to inflammation and destruction of the protective covering of nerve fibers, known as myelin. This may lead to symptoms such as tingling, weakness, numbness, pain, vision problems, fatigue, balance problems, indigestion, cognitive decline, and mood swings.
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable and complex illness that can have a significant effect on your emotional and physical health. Although there isn't a cure for multiple sclerosis, there are therapies that can assist in controlling the disease's symptoms, lessening the frequency and intensity of relapses, and delaying the disease's course.
Pilates is one of the therapies that can assist you in managing multiple sclerosis. It is a low-impact workout that emphasizes strengthening the body's core muscles and enhancing flexibility, balance, body awareness, and posture. Joseph Pilates created Pilates in the early 20th century as a rehabilitation method for injured people. It has since evolved into a popular and effective approach for individuals of all ages and levels of fitness to improve their physical and emotional health.
Pilates Advantages for MS Patients
Pilates can provide numerous benefits to patients with MS, including:
Core Muscle Strengthening
Maintaining alignment and stability in the human body largely depends on the core muscles, which support the pelvis and spine. Pilates exercises effectively engage the core muscles by integrating them into all movements. This can help improve posture, enhance mobility, prevent falls, and alleviate back pain.
Improves Your Flexibility
Pilates workouts involve extending and stretching the joints and muscles, which can assist you in improving your range of motion, relaxing tension in muscles and stiffness, reducing pain, and preventing injuries.
Enhances Your Balance
MS usually affects balance as a result of nerve damage that controls sensation and coordination. Pilates exercises test your balance since they make you maintain your balance while you move your limbs or change positions. The workouts can help you boost your confidence, balance, and overall safety.
Improves Your Breathing
Pilates relies heavily on breathing because it improves movement coordination, activates core muscles, promotes relaxation, and oxygenates blood. The exercise teaches you how to exhale through your lips and breathe rhythmically and deeply through your nose. By doing so, you can enhance your energy levels, mental clarity, circulation, and lung capacity.
Boosting Your Mood
Endorphins are naturally occurring molecules that can brighten your mood, and practicing Pilates can help release them. Pilates encourages mindfulness, self-awareness, and relaxation, all of which can help lower anxiety and stress.
Improving Life Quality
Pilates can assist you in enhancing your life quality by improving your mental health, physical function, social interaction, self-esteem, and overall health.
Getting Started With Pilates Exercises
Here are some guidelines for getting started with Pilates for multiple sclerosis:
Consult With Your Physician
You should speak with your doctor to ensure that any new fitness regimen is safe and appropriate for you before starting. Based on your medical background, current health, medications, symptoms, and goals, your physician can guide you on any necessary precautions or changes you should take.
Find A Competent Instructor
The best approach to learning Pilates is through a competent instructor who has worked with individuals with MS. An experienced instructor can determine your current level of fitness, help you with proper form and alignment, and let you work through the movements at your own pace.
Find An Appropriate Pilates Program
Pilates programs come in a variety of forms, including reformer Pilates, mat Pilates, chair Pilates, and prop-based variations. You can select the program that best fits your preferences, availability, and needs. Additionally, you have the choice of in-person or online classes, as well as group or individual sessions.
Begin Slowly And Progressively
The Pilates method is a progressive workout that calls for practice and patience. Starting with the basics and simple physical exercises is recommended, and as your confidence and skill level grow, you should gradually raise the level of difficulty, time, and intensity. Additionally, to prevent overdoing it or getting hurt, pay attention to how your body feels and adjust the workouts or take breaks.
Be Consistent While Also Having Fun
When done on a regular and consistent basis, Pilates can yield the best results. Try to schedule two or three 45- to 60-minute sessions per week at the very least. In addition, you can combine Pilates with other physical activities like cycling, yoga, walking, or swimming. The most essential thing is to make sure you enjoy the journey you undertake and acknowledge the achievements you make along the way.
What to Anticipate From Your Pilates Session
The following are the key elements of a regular Pilates workout:
Warming up helps your mind and body get ready for the workouts by improving blood circulation, loosening tight joints and muscles, and strengthening the core muscles and breathing exercises. Gentle stretches like raising your arms above your head, twisting your body's torso, or bending the knees, as well as easy exercises like rolling the shoulders, spine, neck, ankles, and hips, could be incorporated into the warm-up.
The workouts, which take place in the middle of the session, involve a series of motions that test your strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility. Starting with the basic movements—the roll-up, the hundred, the single-leg stretch, or the spine twist—you will work your way up to more challenging and complex practices like the swan dive, the boomerang, the teaser, and the sidekick series.
After exercising, the cool-down is meant to help you unwind both physically and mentally. It does this by lowering the heart rate, alleviating any residual stress or pain, and reestablishing your natural alignment and posture. Simple stretches like stretching your arms, bending the elbows, or crossing your legs can be part of the cool-down, as could some soft movements like stretching the knees up to the chest, curling the spine, or rocking the pelvis.
This information allows you and the instructor to weigh in on your progress, discuss any difficulties or queries you might have, and create some objectives or goals for the next workout session. Additionally, you could get advice on how to better position yourself, adjust the exercises to suit your specific needs and skills, or incorporate Pilates exercises into your daily schedule.
Pilates Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis
The following are some Pilates workouts that you could try either in a class or at home, depending on how flexible and strong you are:
These workouts can be carried out while lying on the floor on your side, stomach, or back. You can protect your joints and cushion the body by using a towel or a mat. Another option for supporting your neck or head is to use a towel that has been rolled up or a pillow.
The Hundred Exercise
This is a basic Pilates exercise that focuses on warming up the body, activating the core muscles, and enhancing your breathing. To carry out this exercise, you should do the following:
- Lie down on your back, feet flat on the floor, with your knees bent. Additionally, you can raise your feet to an elevated tabletop position, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, and extend your shin parallel to the ground.
- Raise your shoulders and head off the ground, then extend your arms out to the sides. Maintain a long neck and a slightly tucked-in chin.
- While making small, rhythmic movements with your arms, take a deep five-count breath through the nose.
- While pumping the arms, completely exhale through the lips for five counts.
- This cycle should be repeated ten times, resulting in a total of one hundred counts.
- Relax by lowering both your shoulders and head back down to the ground.
This is another traditional Pilates exercise that works your hip flexors, abdominal muscles, and spine while strengthening and stretching them. To perform this workout, you can follow these steps:
- Lay flat on the back with the arms extended overhead and the legs parallel to one another. Relax the shoulders and keep them away from the ears.
- Curl your shoulders and head off the floor and raise your arms towards the ceiling while taking a breath.
- Roll over onto your back, exhale, and stretch your arms down to touch your toes as you sit up. Maintain a long, curved spine position and prevent collapsing or rounding your back.
- Relax your muscles and inhale as you slowly roll backward until you reach the floor. Keep the arms stretched forward while the legs are firmly anchored on the ground.
- Relax your shoulders and allow your arms to fall back to their initial position as you exhale.
- Repeat this workout five to ten times.
Single-Leg Stretch Exercise
This abdominal series workout serves to build the lower abdominals, hamstrings, and hip flexors. To carry out this task:
- With your knees bent and raised to a tabletop position, lie on your back. With your hands on your shin, raise your head and shoulders off the ground. Maintain a long neck and wide elbows.
- Take a breath and raise one leg 45 degrees off the ground while bringing the other knee up to your chest. As you exhale, switch legs, making sure both legs are engaged and active.
- With each breath, alternate between the legs and perform this exercise 10–20 times on each leg.
Pilates Workouts for MS While Seated
Seated Pilates workouts for multiple sclerosis patients include the following:
This type of workout improves spine mobility and rotation. With your arms folded across your chest and your feet flat on the ground, take a tall stance on your chair. Take a breath and stretch your back. Let out a breath and, without moving your hips, twist to the right. Breathe in and then back to the center. Breathe out and make a left turn. Breathe as you repeat each side of the motion ten times.
Seated Cat-Cow Exercise
The spine can be stretched and made more flexible with this workout. With both hands on the knees and feet flat on the ground, take a tall stance in your seat. Take a breath, raise your chest, arch your back, and gaze upward. Pull your navel in and tuck your chin as you release the breath and turn your back. Ten times, repeat this motion while keeping your breath in mind.
Leg Lifts While Seated
Legs and hips can be toned and strengthened with this exercise. Remain upright in your seat, placing both hands on the thighs or the chair's sides and your legs flat on the ground. Raise your right leg as high off the ground as you can without bending your knee or stooping back. After three seconds of holding, lower the leg to the ground. After ten right leg repetitions, transfer to your left leg and repeat the motion with it.
Seated Arm Circles Workout
The arms and shoulders get stronger and more flexible with this exercise. Maintain good posture by sitting up straight on the chair, legs flat on the ground, and arms at the sides. Using your arms, move in small clockwise circles for ten counts. After that, create little counterclockwise circles for ten counts, reversing the direction. Repeat this motion three times.
Find a Qualified Pilates Instructor Near Me
Pilates is a low-impact workout that can greatly enhance your quality of life and help manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It can be seamlessly incorporated into your exercise regimen to meet your specific objectives, needs, and preferences. Pilates exercises offer numerous benefits, such as strengthening your core muscles and improving endurance, flexibility, and posture.
If you're in Torrance, California, Trinity Acupuncture is a holistic treatment center where we also offer acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. We are here to offer expert advice on effectively incorporating Pilates into your exercise routine. For personalized guidance, give us a call at 310-371-1777. Our team will assess your fitness requirements and provide you with the necessary counsel.