How Pilates Can Help Manage Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Being honest and open about my multiple sclerosis was easier than trying to conceal it.

Openly Discussing My Multiple Sclerosis

By Mariska Breland, as told to Camille Noe Pagán

🌟 Are you tired of feeling like your body is broken? Want to find a way to manage your multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms and regain control? Keep reading, because I’ve got some exciting news for you! 🌟

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can be a life-altering experience. I know because it happened to me. I was just 27 when I received the news in 2002, but I had been experiencing symptoms for at least three years prior. You know the kind—numb fingers, tingling feet, the works. But it wasn’t until I started seeing double whenever I looked left that I knew something was seriously wrong.

When the first doctor I saw was less than empathetic, I turned to a neuro-ophthalmologist who was a real game-changer. She assured me that many people with MS continue walking for years after their diagnosis. It was the reassurance I needed to take action and fight back against this unpredictable disease. And that’s when I discovered the power of Pilates.

🧘‍♀️ Yoga, Pilates, and Exercise: Debunking the Myth! 🧘‍♂️

Back in the day, doctors advised against pushing ourselves too hard or exercising vigorously with MS. But guess what? That advice was wrong! Now we know that exercise, including yoga and Pilates, can actually help manage symptoms and even prevent them from worsening. 🙌

Of course, it’s important to be mindful of your abilities and limitations. But don’t be afraid to push yourself a bit. Research has shown that regular exercise helps with balance, strength, and overall symptom management in MS patients. So, don’t hesitate to hit that yoga mat or hop on a Pilates reformer to give your body the love and care it needs.

💪 How Pilates Saved My Life (And Can Save Yours, Too!) 💪

Yoga got me hooked on mind-body movement, but it was Pilates that truly transformed my life. After experiencing mobility issues related to my MS, I turned to Pilates for support. It not only helped me regain strength and mobility but also proved that our bodies are capable of compensating for disabilities through repetition and sensory feedback.

The positive impact Pilates had on my own life inspired me to create the Pilates for Neurological Conditions training program in 2013. Together with my business partner, we opened The Neuro Studio, where we provide disease-specific trainings and programs catered to people with MS, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological conditions. Since then, I’ve had the honor of teaching over 700 instructors how to support individuals with neurological disabilities.

🎯 Exercise as Medicine: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You 🎯

Sadly, many doctors fail to mention the vital role exercise plays in managing MS-related symptoms and disability. Physical therapy is often overlooked or provided in a short and simple manner. But the truth is, exercise can make a significant difference!

By focusing on balance and strength over time, you can improve symptoms such as leg weakness, foot drop, and balance issues. Exercise isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a powerful tool that should be part of every MS patient’s arsenal.

💪 Empower Yourself: Take Control of Your MS 💪

I used to shy away from interactions with other people living with MS because I was afraid of what the future might hold. But now, I’m a proud advocate for neurological disability awareness. I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible resilience and strength of those affected by MS, and it’s both humbling and inspiring.

If you’re ready to take control of your MS and embrace the power of Pilates, I’m here to support you every step (or plank) of the way. Together, we can navigate the challenges and find joy in movement.

Mariska Breland, a nationally certified Pilates teacher, is the co-owner of and the researcher and creator of Pilates for Neurological Conditions.

Q&A: Addressing Your Concerns

Q: Is Pilates suitable for everyone with MS, regardless of their abilities?

Absolutely! Pilates is an adaptable form of exercise that can be modified to suit individuals of all abilities. Whether you’re experiencing mild or severe symptoms, there are Pilates exercises and modifications that can be tailored to your needs. The key is to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Pilates instructor who understands MS and can guide you through a safe and effective practice.

Q: What other benefits can I expect from regular Pilates practice?

Besides symptom management, Pilates offers a range of additional benefits. It can improve posture, increase core strength, enhance flexibility, and boost overall body awareness and coordination. Pilates is not only a physical practice but also a mindful one, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress—an essential component of managing any chronic condition.

Q: Are there any specific Pilates exercises that work best for MS patients?

While there are general Pilates exercises that can benefit MS patients, it’s essential to customize the practice based on individual needs. A skilled instructor should consider factors such as strength, balance, range of motion, and any specific symptoms when designing a tailored program. The goal is to create a safe and effective exercise routine unique to each person’s abilities and limitations.

Q: How often should I practice Pilates to see results?

The frequency of your Pilates practice depends on your personal goals, schedule, and overall health. Ideally, aim for at least two to three sessions per week. Consistency is key when it comes to reaping the benefits of Pilates. Even short and regular sessions can yield remarkable improvements in strength, mobility, and overall well-being.

Q: Can I still practice Pilates if I have limited mobility?

Absolutely! Pilates can be adapted to suit various levels of mobility. Whether you use a wheelchair, have difficulty standing, or face other mobility challenges, a skilled Pilates instructor can modify exercises and utilize equipment to ensure you can fully participate. Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the transformative power of Pilates, regardless of mobility limitations.

Additional Resources

For more information about Pilates, multiple sclerosis, and neurological conditions, check out the following resources:

  1. The Neuro Studio – Mariska Breland’s website, offering specialized Pilates training programs for neurological conditions.
  2. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation – A comprehensive organization providing resources and support for individuals living with multiple sclerosis.
  3. National Multiple Sclerosis Society – A leading organization committed to driving research, providing education, and advocating for those affected by multiple sclerosis.
  4. International Association of Yoga Therapists – A professional organization promoting the integration of yoga with healthcare by promoting research, education, and advocacy.
  5. Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis – A scientific paper discussing the role of exercise in managing multiple sclerosis symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

🎉 Share Your Story! 🎉

Has Pilates or another form of exercise helped you manage your MS symptoms? We would love to hear from you! Share your experiences and inspire others in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family on social media. Together, we can empower and support the MS community!

This content was originally published on Healthline and has been rewritten with enhanced information and insights.