Core exercises for people with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis can affect your balance and strength. This can cause difficulty with everyday activities.
Keeping your core muscles strong helps to stabilise your body whilst moving, which will keep you steady. This will help with climbing stairs, and walking whilst holding a drink.
Keeping your arms and legs strong will help you with lifting, walking, washing and cooking.
Here are some exercises to help maintain and improve your core strength. Make sure you can get back up off the floor before attempting these exercises.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your buttocks, then raise your bottom off the floor to form a bridge. Hold for 5 seconds, them slowly lower. Repeat 5 times if you can.
- Kneel on all fours. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Tighten your deep tummy muscles. Lift one arm straight out in front of you and hold for 5 seconds. Lower it and repeat with the other arm. Repeat this 5 times if you can.
- As before, kneel on all fours with your hands under your shoulders, your knees under your hips, and your tummy muscles tight. Lift one leg straight out behind you and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your leg and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this exercise 5 times if you can. If you cannot lift your leg off the ground, slide it out behind you keeping your toes on the floor.
- If you found the last 2 exercises easy, try lifting one arm and the opposite leg at the same time.
- Kneel on all fours. Draw your tummy button upwards towards your spine. Hold for 5 seconds, then gently relax your tummy and let it all hang out. Repeat this 5 times.
- Sit on a firm surface, such as a chair or the edge of the bed. Put your hands on your knees, and push down through your hands as you push through your feet, and come up to standing. Stand up tall for a count of 3, then push out your bottom and slowly sit down again. Repeat this 5 times. If your balance is not so good, do this exercise with a table in front of you to steady yourself.
Here are some exercises for your arms and legs. Try to do each exercise at least 5 times to begin with, and then gradually progress to 10 times.
- Start by sitting comfortably in a chair. Keep your arm straight. Raise it forwards and up above your head as high as you can go without causing pain. Lower your arm slowly and repeat with the other arm.
- Sit in a chair and hold a rolling pin, umbrella, or similar shaped item out in front of you with both hands. Slowly raise it up over your head, as high as you can go without causing pain, then lower it down.
- Sit at a table and put your hands on a small towel. Slide the towel away from you, so that you stretch forwards and lengthen your body. Then gently slide back to a sitting position.
- Sit at a table and hold a rolling pin vertically in one hand, with your forearm resting on the table. Gently turn your wrist over and lower the rolling pin down to the table. Then raise it up again and go over the other way as far as you can. Do the same with the other arm.
- Stand at the kitchen counter with your feet hip width apart. Lift your right leg out to the side, keeping your knee straight and your toes pointing forwards. Hold it for 5 seconds then slowly lower. Do the same with the left leg.
- Stand next to a table for support. Whilst holding onto the table, take a step forwards and gradually lower your back knee towards the floor in a lunge. Aim to get both knees at a 90 degree angle. Return to standing and repeat with the other knee.
As you get stronger, try to repeat the exercises more frequently. Alternatively you can add in small weights or use a resistance band.
If you would like more information about these exercises, or how to progress further, please speak to your physiotherapist.