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5 Low Impact Workouts to Reduce MS Numbness

By Daryl H. Bryant (1048 words)
Posted in Living with MS on April 1, 2015

There are (2) comments permalink

5 Low Impact Workouts to Reduce MS Numbness

When it comes to working out with Multiple Sclerosis, finding the right routine that works for you can be a challenge. Overheating with aerobic activity can cause symptom flare-ups, but sometimes slow and gentle exercises won’t work out aching muscles or stiff, numb limbs. However, your MS should not deter you from pursuing physical activity.

In fact, the right exercise routines can relieve symptoms and strengthen your body for the next flare-up, especially if you suffer from MS numbness. The following low impact workouts will reduce your MS numbness and strengthen your balance, agility, and muscle strength.

Weight Lifting

Weight lifting is ideal for building strength. Regardless of how light or heavy the weights are, by lifting you will be working out a series of muscles and muscle reactions that can strengthen the neural communication between your muscles, thus reducing numbness. Because you’re in control of the weights and the speed of lifting, you can reduce injury, discomfort, and symptom flare-ups by being cautious.

Try a weight lifting routine on a vertical bench press machine to work out your chest muscles. On this machine, you can sit down with your back straight, relieving tension on your knees and legs. Adjust the weights to lift only what is comfortable. Try starting with 5-10 pounds and increase from there. Slowly lift the weights, concentrating fully on the extension and contraction of your muscles as you lift. Do 3 series of 10 before moving on. Repeat this same series on the shoulder, back, and leg machines.

Recumbent Bicycling

Bicycling is another routine you can do sitting down, and riding at the gym is less stressful than riding a real bike because it requires less balance. During your recumbent bicycle routine, start off slowly on little to no incline until you build up your strength. Ride at a comfortable pace for 8-10 minutes, and then increase your pace for another 2 minutes.

Do not overexert yourself, and try not to break out into a sweat as the overheating and cardio can cause symptoms to flare-up. Until you know how your body and your MS will react to exercise, keep your bike routine at a minimum. Even at a comfortable pace, your legs will get the workout they need. It will increase blood flow to these areas, reducing your numbness, and you’ll notice increased strength in your legs that will help with walking.


Climbing stairs is a great way to continue strengthening your legs while improving your balance. You can do this specific routine at home, or anywhere you can find a staircase. It’s great to do at work as well, especially if you need some peace and quiet. Sneak away to the stairwell and do this routine for 5-10 minutes to get a quick and relaxing workout.

Step up onto the first stair with your right leg, then lift your left and hold it in mid-air for 20-30 seconds. Slowly drop your left foot and step down from the steps. Repeat this move with the alternate legs, and then repeat the routine 10-20 times. Feel free to hold on to a railing or wall while you do this, but you should work up to the point where you don’t want to grab onto anything for support. Increasing the hold of your leg in mid-air will help you balance as well as strengthen your leg muscles, and the more you practice the less likely you are to hold on to the railing.

Speed Drills

To work on your balance, quick and easy speed drills are a great way to spice up a workout routine. This one is also nice to do outdoors in spring or fall when the weather isn’t too hot yet. Draw a ladder design outside with chalk. Make it with as many steps as you’d like, but 8-10 is a good start. Practice walking through the steps of your ladder by putting one foot in the square, followed by your next foot.

Continue climbing the ladder in this way, and then back down again, and increase your speed on each new turn. Don’t try to speed through the ladder. Rather, take your time and pay attention to the movement of your feet and legs as you climb the ladder. Increase your speed only when you are comfortable. Whether you go slow or quick, this routine will help increase your balance and agility.

Balance Ball

Using a balance ball for sit ups and yoga stretches is a great, low-impact way to increase balance and coordination. Working out on a balance ball requires a lot of sensory awareness, and building up this coordination will help improve your motor function and reduce symptoms that affect the way you walk, balance, and move through life.

Start out with minor routines until your balance improves. First, sit up on the ball with your back straight, knees bent, and both feet flat on the floor. Keeping your knees bent and your feet flat, practice moving from side to side and back and forth on the ball. The lower half of your body should not move, only your upper-half. You can hold your arms out to help maintain your balance.

After this, cross your arms across your chest and do a series of 5-10 sit-ups. Do your crunches slowly and concentrate on the way your body moves with the ball. The slower you go and the harder you concentrate, the less likely you are to waver or fall. You will start to notice improvement in your balance and your sensory awareness after doing a few of these routines a week.

What do you do to help reduce your MS numbness?

As you start these five workouts, remember to keep your routines slow and comfortable until you know how your MS will react to changes in your exercise regimen. Always confer with your doctor or physical therapist/trainer before making any big changes to your workout routine. You want the goal of your physical fitness to be strength and comfort, not speed, so do not feel pressured to perform or finish these workouts in a timely manner.

Even the speed drills are meant to be completed at a pace that is comfortable for you. As you continue to exercise, your body will strengthen and you’ll notice a natural increase in your pace, strength, and agility that will show in your daily life as well as at the gym.

Comments (2)

ann ford posted on: April 2, 2015

I already do bike work and work with weights which are helpful. I was given the leg work on stairs by my physio, which is also helpful. As time has passed my leg strength has improved and I am sure these exercises have helped to improve my body coping with PPMS. When I first started exercising, I swacribe bt body's reaction as my MS having a temper tantrum. To combat this I exercised and then had a day of rest until I could do mu routine daily.

Robert Roberson posted on: April 3, 2015

All good, but my best total body and aarobic work is on the seated rowing machine.

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