Multiple Sclerosis Community
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11079760 tn?1483389730

Exercise & Stretching

Hello friends,

I am realizing just how tight all of my muscles are & that I really need to be (a) moving and (b) stretching a lot more. This morning, I woke early to try out a few things and see how it goes. I have done quite literally no exercise in about 1.5 years (ugh). I have lots of excuses...the end result is the same. Bleh.

Anyways, I did some deep stretching yoga poses (cat-cow, child's pose w/threading the needle, warrior I, warrior II and goddess pose), some core exercises, 3 easy sets of biceps, triceps and deltoid work (not strenuous - light weights just to see how my hands would manage the weights), and some good calf/shin stretches to end it up. My core heated up quickly, but I wasn't out of breath or sweaty, so I feel like I was taking it nice & easy. The entire routine was only about 30-40 minutes.

Since then, I am noticing that my arms are even heavier/more painful than usual, my hand is worse than usual, I think I experienced my first MS hug, and I'm generally feeling like my body is tightening up vs. staying stretched out. Is this a normal "rebound" type reaction? Should I expect this will get better over time?

Thanks for your insights. All in all, I feel pretty good that I could handle the pressure on my hand/arm/ankle/calf. Tomorrow I will get after the treadmill and try to get some cardio going.

12 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Cheryl, wish I had some insight for you. I am tight pretty much from the waist down on both sides and my arms are starting to protest my workouts. I only do 2 sets of 10 with the arms on 2-3 machines, 2-3 times a week. I get through the sets easily enough but pay for it for days afterwards.

I skipped the gym this morning because I was having trouble lifting my legs fully this morning and my arms are sore from Monday. Icy conditions here again today so I thought it smart to not risk falling.

I may not be stretching the arms enough though. The legs is as a result of that darned spasticity.

I have likely been pushing it too much going 5 days a week for the last few weeks. Maybe you overdid it this morning? It seems like you did quite a bit..

I have been trying to push through muscle fatigue in one leg. Less than 5 minutes at level 1 on the elliptical and I have to push to get through the 10 minutes I set for myself. Are you having muscle fatigue as well?

11079760 tn?1483389730
Hi Corrie,

I know you have been really getting after the exercise, which is so impressive & motivating for me! I am suffering muscle fatigue; however, I am still trying to understand what is MS-related and what is just I'm-really-out-of-shape related. My legs have ALWAYS fatigued easily & not recovered well. I noticed this a lot when I was running, but always just thought my legs were not strong enough. I now wonder if it was the beginning signs of MS showing up.

Your comments about paying the price in the days following are partly what I'm wondering. I guess that is why I tried a variety of things (yoga poses, core work, light hand weights, stretching) - I just wanted to see how my body would respond to different types of non-strenuous exercise.

My legs are starting to join the fatigue party. It is so hard to know how much to push vs. hold back. If I want to increase strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility, I am going to have to get a little uncomfortable. I guess it will be trial & error.

Have you found any good indicators to know when it's time to pull back vs. push yourself?
Avatar universal
You can't necessarily do all the exercises you used to do, and you certainly can't do them at the same intensity at the outset. If you haven't exercised in a blue moon, then start slowly. Limit your reps and keep your stretches to very moderate. Do only what you can do without paying for it in the next few days, and slowly work up from there. Skip at least a day between sessions. I think a couple of weeks of this should tell you what's an MS issue and what's not.
Avatar universal
No consistent indicators yet but I think I might need to go down to 3-4 workouts or else have 1-2 days that are cardio only no weights.

I've been pushing through the muscle fatigue with my left leg since I started at the gym and it is my weak leg but I am disappointed that I don't notice a difference yet with respect to strengthening or going longer before the fatigue hits. I don't go fast on the elliptical or the recumbent either and I played this week with increasing levels from 1 to 3 and I think I will have to try going back to level 1. :(

I am also going to have to do more stretching I think. A lot more.

Like you I was getting weakness and wanted to do something about it but think I have worked out over 20 times and don't feel any better than before I started. What I don't know is if I am keeping it from worsening which I suppose would be something.

Hopefully others will be able to chime in with some tips or things to watch for.

11079760 tn?1483389730
Thanks, ess. I have always felt disappointed by my lack of athletic skills. Thinking back on what I was able to do 2 years ago and what I can do now is immensely frusterating. It would have been this way without a Dx, so I am struggling to understand my boundaries. Something I will just have to figure out as I go, I guess.
11079760 tn?1483389730
Thanks for sharing this, Corrie. Disappointing - but maybe more breaks in between strength training would actually yield better results? Let's keep chatting. I'm feeling like my experiences may be similar to yours based on today's experience...

Hi Cheryl,
I'm with you, Ess & Corrie with this too.
Think you doing the right thing (which we are) getting moving and stretching at the gym, to come back and be feeling you could stay in bed! And almost feel worse than before going.
I told my trainer that I wanted to be pushed as much as possible but realistically, and I've unfortunately found, I've got to listen to my body now, this is something that is totally alien to me too. I've started there recently so I'm going twice a week at the moment, (which again is not what I'm used too)
The one bit of advice my trainer did give me for when you are working out on different pieces of equipment was, alternate when working upper body and then legs, basically, don't go from bike to leg bench straight after each other, and also the same for upper body, the muscles are more fatigued after each exercise so give rest in between. When I was doing that, I could see what she was talking about.
I'm with the leg fatigue too and also the tightness is tough,  my arms are ok (ish) but get heavier as I exercise them.
Definitely a big learning curve finding out a new way of doing things eh?
Take care.
Thanks, T. The combo of getting older, being so out of shape, and MS is a nasty one! I plan to stretch every day and then alternate cardio & strength training. I'm hopeful to train for a 5k starting in a couple of weeks. It may be more walking than jogging, but I guess I will have to be OK with that. Keep us posted on what is working for you with your trainer. Good to learn from everyone.
5k! That's great!
Even if it is more walking than jogging, it is a plus that you want to do it.
Hope it goes ok.
Let us know how it does go!
Take care.
5265383 tn?1483811956
The other strange thing ...  I am in the pool consistently 4-5 days a week doing aquatherpy/aquafit and have been since October.  The most I can miss is THREE days without fall-out (increasing stiffness, more difficult to jump back in).

It helps you be consistent with exercise, for sure!

I'm interested that you ladies are mentioning muscle fatigue -- I have told my neurologist repeatedly that I have this issue, and perhaps I've misunderstood him, but he insists it's not an ms thing?!?  I see him this month and I want an answer for this question, because my foot drop and difficulty raising my arm are decidedly worse post-exercise.

Good for you all to commit to physical activity -- lots of research going on at our local university about the benefits of exercise for those with ms.
Avatar universal
Well gosh, when we push weak muscles over and over to do something they're not accustomed to do, and maybe not even capable of doing, somethin's gotta give. Of course the result is fatigue and aching muscles.

If muscles affected by MS simply are not getting the signal to move, then they can't move, it's that simple. After enough time of not moving, they're too deconditioned to move. Sometimes surrounding muscles can pick up the slack, and that's where a good neuro physical therapist can be most helpful. And sometimes stimulation of muscles and nerves can be beneficial in getting the original nerves to fire approximately the way they had before MS did its thing. One of my neuros incorporates this into his practice using what feels like tens machines on steroids. I can add more on this if someone's interested, or at least point you to his website.

I'm not at all convinced that all of this actually works in general or has worked on me, but I do think specially trained neuro PTs can be really helpful.

Guess I've veered off topic more than a little :-) so back to whether MS causes muscle fatigue. If looked at in a vaccuum, then I think it doesn't, since we don't wake up after a restful night's sleep with tired achy muscles. But if we're living in the real world where it's necessary to be mobile in order to function, that's another story. Trying to make weak muscles behave like healthy muscles will cause muscle fatigue and pain.

At the moment I'm have a real issue with sudden and markedly decreased strength in my right hip flexors, why I'm not sure. I now have to physically pick up my right leg to put on a shoe as I can't raise the leg off the floor more than an inch. Ok, that's a reasonable fix. But I have another problem driving. Now going even short distances causes my right thigh to ache. Why? Because I have to keep raising it off the gas pedal to get to the brake.So I keep a rolled up towel in the car and tuck it under my thigh. My toes can still reach down to the gas and my leg doesn't have to pull up to touch the brake. I am not straining the weak hip flexors, so no ache and fatigue.

I have had that problem with driving, too. Some days it is worse than others.

Agreed that tired & achy muscles are to be expected. The feelings are just so different than they have been in the past for me (and after doing much less) that I wondered if others struggled from similar fatigue/muscle spasms. Just trying to decipher how hard to push myself, I guess.

Maybe I'm too tuned into my body right now to be objective. I'm not to proud to admit that could definitely be the case :)
12080135 tn?1453631171
Hi Cheryl
Only just seen all your entries.

Anyone not exercising for 18 mths will get the stiffening you describe and in the places you mentioned from the poses etc you did. Usually 1-2 days later. Wouldn't be immediately concerned in my experience.
I do Pilates and had over a year out with my back etc. Have got back up to my previous level (4-6 sessions) and continued to get stronger again but then I've always been v active and I think that helps with muscle memory etc

My right leg atrophy is still v noticeable but I'm determined to conquer that however long it takes me.

I think you just need to listen to your body and use your head too. The will might be v strong, but 2 steps forward to take 1 back might be demotivating. Better perhaps to take half a step forward each time but maintain your gains. You'll reach a point where you'll know 'that's it'. Above anything enjoy whatever you are doing and celebrate every success however tiny.

Gd luck with it all - I'm looking forward to cycling weather and building that back up too.

11079760 tn?1483389730
Thanks everyone! I appreciate all of the responses and feedback. Here's to being more fit in 2016!!
Avatar universal
Oh, just remembered this. There's a PBS tv show called Classical Stretch (http://www.classicalstretch.com/) that has some nice workouts that are adaptable to all levels. Where I live it's televised at some ungodly hour, but I believe a few of them have been uploaded to youtube, if anyone wants to take a look. And of course, as with nearly everything PBS, whole series of these are available on DVD.

I had tried this very briefly last year but somehow got side-tracked. Am thinking of taking it up again, as to me it seems a good way of keeping functioning muscles at their healthiest. There are other offerings such as Power Yoga, which I basically can't do anymore, and there's one called Sit and Be Fit, which I've never seen. That might be quite helpful for the considerably disabled.

I confess I blow hot and cold on these things, tending to more or less hibernate in winter, but to pick up steam as, the days grow longer. I recently lost my dear dog, and on top of the sadness I'm realizing how good for me our daily walks were, so I'm trying to get up and moving more.

I have my MS stuff and being quite ancient I also have my falling apart with age stuff. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference :-)  But I do feel better when my muscles have gotten a modest workout. It's so easy for me to overdo. I used to belong to a really great gym, but illness and relapses meant that I went less and less, making the fees ridiculous. I do know that I can do a lot at home or just walking in the neighborhood to improve my overall fitness. There are lots of DVDs out there, including ones on Pilates, which I do like, even if the downside of home workout routines is the possibility of getting the form wrong in a lot of cases.

Still, I'm not trying to turn myself into catwalk material :-) :-)  just to feel stronger, fitter and more energized. Days when the dreaded fatigue sets in I know that sofa and book are what I'll be up to, but there are other days too. Moderation in all things, including moderation.
Avatar universal
Wow! So glad I found this thread! I have some left sided weakness from my first ever flare that led to my diagnosis. I am determined to get my left side back to baseline. I did learn a lot reading this thread, so thank you all who contributed!!
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