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Use It or Lose It

I have had MS for almost 24 years now and I didn’t totally understand the "Spasticity" part of it until now. When my neurologist first told me I had “Spasticity” in my legs, I laughed and said, “Oh Good. That means they've been calling me Spaz all these years for a reason.” At the age of 24, I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I just took the medication that was prescribed and kept going. Now that I am almost 46 years old, I have noticed that my legs aren’t what they used to be. Sometimes they feel like they are in rigor mortis mode which isn’t good because that’s the stiffness that sets in to our bodies after we die. I am still very much alive. When I walk, I resemble Frankenstein’s monster because my legs are super tight. The biggest difference between his legs and my legs is that my knees will sometimes buckle and my body will sway back and forth trying to steady itself. If we were to race today, I think he would beat me by a mile.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it”. I am always really good about working out and then I will get a cold or I won’t feel strong enough to work out one day or I’ll make up an excuse not to work out and it snowballs out of control. My last setback was “Frozen Shoulder.” I don’t know what caused it or why I ended up with it but I told myself I would get back to working out again once my “Frozen Shoulder” was healed. The good news is my shoulder is 85% better. The bad news is I haven’t done any strengthening exercises in almost a year and I am weaker than I’ve ever been. Being challenged with Multiple Sclerosis, there are several things I do not have control over but exercise is something I have 100% control over. I can choose to exercise and maintain my strength or I can choose not to exercise and get weaker and weaker. Although I have made lots of excuses in the past and chosen the wrong option, that all changes now.

I had an appointment with my physical therapist last week who helped me recover from “Frozen Shoulder” and I told him I desperately needed exercises to help me get stronger. It’s amazing how little you have to do to make a huge difference. As weak as I am right now because I didn’t use it and I lost it, I now have simple exercises to build myself back up again. By lying on my back with my knees bent and my arms out to my side, I tighten my stomach muscles and press the small of my back against the floor and hold it for 5 seconds. I do this about 20 times and it helps build core strength. I can even do this sitting in a chair. Also, by holding on to something and rocking back and forth on my feet from heel to toe, I am strengthening my legs and feet so I don’t struggle so much with foot drop. I may have MS and “Spasticity” but it doesn’t have me. I choose to use it and not lose it. I am going to keep exercising and get stronger and stronger.

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