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Does exercise worsen symptoms?

Hi Being fairly new to this, I was wondering if anyone had experienced worsening of symptoms, like a relapse when they exercise? I had a relpase and took steroids a few weeks ago, started to feel better as mainly was walking a bit clumsily and dropping things started back at the gym again a few weeks ago, not what I would normally do but now my left hand has pins and needles (never had that before) my left thumb randomly twitches and I’m finding it hard to focus at times (as if I’m going cross eyed), especially when on my computer(probably a cue to stop!)I’ve not been back to the gym but it is ongoing and also having some slightly embarrassing bowel symptoms too…is this the gym, the heat or another relpase/continuation of my last one? Any advice gratefully recieved.

Hi Puzzled,

Exercising with MS is safe, but many people find it does temporarily worsen symptoms, yes. However, by “temporarily”, I mean the symptoms would usually subside again within minutes, or at most, hours after exercise - they wouldn’t persist for days and days. It sounds as if the ones you’re talking about are more long-term, and not during or immediately after the gym. Which makes me think that isn’t what caused them. It is possible it’s a new relapse, or just a continuation of the last one (strictly speaking, there has to be at least 30 days’ remission between successive relapses, otherwise they’re considered all part of the same thing).

Alternatively, maybe it’s just the recent hot weather? Did the increase in symptoms coincide with the rise in temperatures? Hot weather may have a similar (reversible) effect to exercise, because it raises body temperature. It’s one of the idiosyncrasies of MS that many people find getting hot worsens it.

Hope this helps,

Tina

I’ve always found that the more I exercise, the worse I get. I think there’s the normal fatigue you get when you’ve exercised, which wears off after a while, but I also seem to get a more long-term deterioration of the muscles. It’s as though everything I do just chips a little bit more off their strength. When I was first diagnosed, I did loads of exercise in order to keep up my strength. I even had exercises prescribed by the physio. But, it seemed to have the reverse effect. Not sure why. Guess my MS just effects me in that way. Exercise just seems to speed up deterioration somehow.

Like everything moderation and if you stick to this it is beneficial

but remember you cannot exercise to the level you did in the past but you can still do it, i swim every morning, most of the pensioners swim by me but it does help

trish

Before the MS I was regularly going to the gym , but since then I had to stop because of the pain etc. I did go back for a short time as I asked the Neuro physio about excercise, but after just doing a few minutes of excercise that most people including me would laugh at for a few weeks, I found that I wasn’t able to do the ( small amount) normal things that I have to manage to do at home so it was suggested I stop.

As we all know, everyone is different.

Jaycie x

I’ve had MS for 12 years and if I didn’t exercise I would be much worse than I am now. Try toning down the intensity and see if that helps - if not then it could be a relapse .

Otherwise find a level that suits you - I also do Belly dancing and I will swear that dancing is why my co-ordination is as good as it is (ok for normal people its not great cause I’ve always been clumsy but I can still just about stand on one leg for 30 secs).

The reason I still exercise is so that I can exercise - remember than you still have muscle memory to rely on even your brain is now warped (some people say mine was warped even before my MS started ) and if you were used to exercising regularly then you will feel worse if you stop altogether. My body will tell me if I do too much and it also complains if I do too little.

Good luck - dont let the MS win!!

I’ve had MS for 12 years and if I didn’t exercise I would be much worse than I am now. Try toning down the intensity and see if that helps - if not then it could be a relapse .

Otherwise find a level that suits you - I also do Belly dancing and I will swear that dancing is why my co-ordination is as good as it is (ok for normal people its not great cause I’ve always been clumsy but I can still just about stand on one leg for 30 secs).

The reason I still exercise is so that I can exercise - remember than you still have muscle memory to rely on even your brain is now warped (some people say mine was warped even before my MS started ) and if you were used to exercising regularly then you will feel worse if you stop altogether. My body will tell me if I do too much and it also complains if I do too little.

Good luck - dont let the MS win!!

Hi Thank you everyone, just for back for the gym and couldn’t do as much as I would, I suppose I need to listen to my body, but I feel like I just need to be like I was 8months ago, without knowing I had this(well I had fatigue and pins and needles but it was more distracting than causing.any real probs) and just “powered” through the gym sessions, I suppose I’m worried as my first episode started after I started doing sessions with a personal trainer, present from my family, and I was doing great until I fainted in the gym(thought because I hadn’t eaten) and a day later optic neuritis and weakness. The heat just makes me tired my other tingling, pins and needles and numbness stay about the same as always, which is why I worry about the effect of exercise, as I really want to continue as I was…but I guess I just need to accept I have this… Jellybellykelly thanks for the advice, belly dancing may be the way forward, I’ve heard Pilates is quite good too, I just need to. Enlist someone to go with me:-) Jaycee, what type of exercises did your neurophysio suggest, if I can ask? I’m a cold person and love the heat so this is just something else I have to learn to live with, it can be hard to be positive when so much has to change to accommodate this condition:-( On a plus side have an access to work visit tomorrow so hopefully that will be good!!

Hi If I remember rightly I was just using some of the equipment, but on very low settings for not very long. Really sorry I cannot remember very well

Jaycie x

I have seen a few different neurophysios over the last couple of years and the exercises are all very similar - to help core strength, flexibility and balance and are based on pilates, yoga and tai chi

Hi exercise can annoy spasticity temporarily but I thinks it helps in thelong run. What I really think is good is yoga for everything, muscle strength, core stability and balance. It also really helps your state of mind. I dont have MS but have had a cervical myelopathy which has resolved albeit leaving some damage of spasticity in right leg which effects strength and balance.

Moyna x

I swim every other day for about half an hour and feel really good for it, if anything it improves my symptoms, I suppose it is about finding the right exercise for you.

Good luck

Gill xxx

I have always found ai feel better exercising fatigue wise and in myself. However I have always developed sensations when I exercise, like pins and needles, fuzziness etc. since my last relapse I develop a clear limp too however all of these subside once I have stopped exercise after about ten mins. I was diagnosed in 2004 and prior to having my son in 2009 I ran a lot and these sensations were usually always there, particularly straight after. As said this is still the case but I am now not able to be as energetic as I once was although give it a good go :wink: I think it depends on whether they are remaining there or not to whether you decide it’s the exercise or not? It’s hard to say sometimes. I have permanent sensations in my hands and have had them for nearly two years … These just developed one day and have never gone but I can live with them … It’s my daft leg that annoys me xxx

Hi, my daughter has just been given a gym prescription from her physio, she has her induction tomorrow at a local gym. She has also been advised by the gym to go to aqua arobics as the water takes the strain but still allows you to exercise safely. She is really looking forward to it, I just pray that she is able to do it and it’s not another disappointment for her. She is very clumsy and uncoorodinated and I hope it helps with that. Linda x

I’m a bit late to the party but I thought I could add some helpful info for anyone else coming across this post. In general, exercise, assuming it’s the correct type of exercise will only benefit your condition. The main error people make is focusing on cardiovascular activities rather than strength or resistance based activities. It may sound obvious but maintaining strength requires regular strength training. The MS patients I’ve worked with over the past 10 years have never experienced adverse affects due to the exercise we’ve done and I believe that doing these exercises has made a huge difference to their rate of progression. Many of them get stronger over time, rather than weaker. With regards to the symptoms you mention such as tingling, numbness, etc…these are due to lesions on your spine/brain and exercising will have no adverse affect on those parts of the body. It’s just important to make sure you are able to work around and manage the symptoms when exercising.

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I go to the gym under advice from the GP and physio etc. I do what I can all very slowly and leave my stick near the wall fo when I attempt to go downstairs again after, ha ha its like a comedy scene by this time. By that time I feel ace but my legs decide they have had enough. Anyway, I do what I am told, it makes me feel better, my core strength has improved and my posture but most importantly for me, I understand that my body will complain for at least two days afterwards so following the gym I will rest, eat clean good food but mainly have to stay in bed or rest in different places and sleep comes over me like a fog. I get massive muscle fatigue, general tiredness and unable to think, a drop foot which gets worse and my tremor plays up a bit. I also cannot grip well not that it is good at any time but my fingers won’t work.

Two days after this, I feel the benefit of going to the gym, my body has recovered a bit, flexibility is good on the scale of things and I can slowly start to move again. So for me, I get the benefits, then suffer a bit, then leave it again for three weeks before I go through the whole process. I also have to tailor it inbetween medicine injections which makes me feel quite ill for short periods, so it is a balancing act. When I can’t go I try to walk, with two sticks sometimes even a route round the shopping centre is a route. I went for a walk in the sun after a hospital appointment on Tuesday. I felt great, till I was nearly home then felt like I had been hit on the head and nearly crying. Oo it did hurt but, I went, I saw butterflies, I got my vit D. It doesn’t always work, I was unable to go for nearly six months in the winter as my spacticity was very bad but trying to make up for it now.

Reporting in to the GP this afternoon who will rub his big belly as usual and ask me if I have been doing my exercises!!

I think you have to do all things in moderation. Exercise is good, but maybe look at how you do it. Swimming is good - as said the water takes the strain. Tai chi also good for posture, balance and breathing. Some find yoga or pilates helps. Personally I can’t get down on teh floor! So maybe the gym as you used to use it is not right for you now? Have a word with the trainers and see what they suggest.