Medications like Nuedexta are available to treat MS. However, there has also been a lot of research conducted into the benefits of Pilates for MS sufferers, but so far most of that has focused on the general idea of exercises to improve strength. More recent research, however, has looked at clinical Pilates – a program which is focused on the idea of building core stability.
In those more recent studies, both clinical Pilates and traditional exercise protocols were used, and researchers found that those who practiced clinical Pilates saw significant improvements in their balance, as well as reduced fatigue and tiredness. Interestingly, they also reported improvements in their quality of life, and improvements in their cognitive performance – greater than those that were seen by those who were following more traditional exercise patterns.
Exercise is known to be beneficial for people with MS, and improving their mobility can help with other symptoms as well, but there is evidence to suggest that clinical Pilates offers measurably more improvement.
Most research into MS treatments focus on general core stability exercise and strength building, with some aerobic exercise. Where clinical Pilates is particularly interesting is in the idea that it helps to improve general performance in flexibility, balance and endurance, and also improves core stability, and breathing. The systematic approach is what makes it appealing.
The latest study reported on by the MS Foundation is based on research that involved 37 people with MS who were from Turkey. Of the 37 that took part, 20 completed the study. Thy were all aged over 18, and had an EDSS score of six or lower.
The people who did the clinical Pilates programme were given exercises that focused on breathing and posture, including the correct alignment of the head, neck, shoulders and ribs. The people doing the traditional exercise regimen were given a programme that included balance, co-ordination and strength improving exercises. Both groups took part in 45 minute sessions twice a week, for a total of eight weeks.
Before the eight week training period, the individuals were tested for both physical and cognitive performance, and asked about their quality of life and how their condition affected them. AFter the programme, both groups reported that they were seeing improvements in their physical ability. The people who took part in the Pilates programme saw significant improvements in terms of their fatigue, tiredness and wellbeing, and showed improvement in both balance and cognitive symptoms.
This suggests that while standard exercise – and indeed standard Pilates – can help with MS, a focused programme of clinical Pilates could offer even bigger improvements. It could offer long term benefits in terms of managing the condition, and could be beneficial for people who are struggling to find something that will fit with their current abilities.
Pilates is a useful form of exercise because it is something that can be adapted to the ability of the practitioner – whether the practitioner is someone who is sedentary but generally healthy, a person with MS, or an Olympic athlete. With proper practice, Pilates can improve anyone’s balance, co-ordination and strength. It can rehabilitate injuries, and it can help you to improve your flexibility and your posture. Pilates is something that is best done under the supervision of a qualified instructor – whether that instructor is a general Pilates teacher or someone who specializes in clinical Pilates will depend on your goals and needs. If you suffer from MS, talk to your specialist or your family doctor about a referral to someone who can help you with the idea of learning Pilates – it is worth it for your general health.