Balance exercises for people with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis can cause problems with balance and coordination. This can lead to difficulty walking and may cause you to fall.
We have some simple exercises which can improve your ability to stand and walk.
It is important to exercise safely. If you are trying these exercises for the first time, make sure a friend or relative is with you. Stand near the kitchen counter or dining room table, so you have something to hold onto for support, and have a chair behind you in case you need to sit down.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart. Steady yourself by holding onto a piece of furniture. When you are ready, slowly let go, one hand at a time, and hold your balance. Count to 15. If you manage this, try it again with your eyes closed, building up to 15 seconds.
- If you are feel comfortable standing with your feet hip width apart, you can now progress to standing with your feet together. As before, hold onto a piece of furniture. When you are ready slowly let go and hold your balance. Count up to 15 secs. If you manage this, try it again with your eyes closed, building up to 15 seconds.
- Whilst still holding onto support, try and take one foot in front of the other with a gap in between. Slowly let go of your support and hold your balance. If you can manage this, progress to standing with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. Gradually build up to 15 seconds.
- Now stand with your feet hip width apart. Lift one leg off the floor, and hold your balance. Count to 15. Lower your leg, and then try with the other leg. As you get stronger, try lifting your leg out to the side.
- For the final exercise, hold onto the kitchen counter or a piece of furniture. Rise up onto your tiptoes, and hold for 5 seconds. Lower your heels back to the ground. Now lift your toes and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat up to 15 times if you can.
You don’t need to do all of these exercises at once. Try fitting these exercises into your everyday life. You could do them whilst you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or watching television.
Pilates, yoga and Tai chi are excellent ways to build strength, and improve flexibility. They help with balance and reduce any fear of falling. These can also be done while sitting down.
If you would like more information about balance exercises, please speak to a physiotherapist.