All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for July 2004

Yoga reduces fatigue in MS sufferers, report shows

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

When Beth Adamusik was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago, she felt like she was given a death sentence. “I was devastated, I used to cry constantly, I was a mess, I thought my life would be over,” says Beth.

Beth’s initial symptoms included temporary blindness. She lost her sensation of touch, from the tips of her toes to her head. She was completely numb. “It was horrifying, I had three kids, my youngest was two,” says Beth.

After receiving her diagnosis, Beth struggled to regain control of her life, both physically and mentally. Once an athlete, Beth was hungry to get her body moving again. She discovered yoga. “It has transformed me, it has given me back my life,” says Beth.

In fact, recent research published in the Journal of Neurology demonstrated that yoga significantly reduces fatigue in people battling multiple sclerosis. The study also clearly demonstrated that yoga postures can be modified for use among people with ms who have disabilities caused by their condition and that yoga can be done safely and effectively.

“Yoga is a form of movement and exercise and it incorporates deep breathing, poses, some stretching, relaxation and all of those things are beneficial to people with ms,” says Debbie Hertz of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Just like there is insulating material around an electrical wire, nerves in the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord also have an insulating material called myelin. With MS, myelin is destroyed and replaced by scars of hardened “sclerotic” patches of tissue. Such lesions are called “plaques,” and appear in multiple places within the central nervous system.

In addition to extreme fatigue, many people with ms can have blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, even paralysis. These problems could be permanent. Frequently though, they come and go.

Beth’s yoga teacher, Martin Bland, has been working with people who have ms, for the last 15 years. “In yoga class, it’s not just the skeleton, it’s not just the muscles, it’s the organs and glands that get stimulated, their whole respiratory system gets stronger,” says Martin.

Beth, who does yoga stretches religiously every morning, says it has not only helped her conquer her fatigue, but it has also helped with equilibrium.

“It’s about balance, it teaches you how to from your core, how to balance the whole upper body and then strengthen the lower body, it’s been amazing,” says Beth.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society urges every one to first consult with their physician before beginning any exercise program.

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