What is common between Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)? They all are autoimmune diseases, where your own cells start to attack your healthy tissues and organs. There are over eighty autoimmune diseases, each with it’s own unique symptoms. Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are similar; painful and inflamed joints, extreme fatigue, anxiety and depression. People with Multiple sclerosis have a little different problems like loss of muscle strength, sensation, coordination and balance. All these three diseases consist of pain which make life more complicated and can make everyday life more challenging both physically and psychologically.
When your muscles and joints hurts, it’s definitely not the first thing on your mind to get up and move. However, a proper exercise program is one of the treatments for all those three diseases. Inactivity and disuse cause more pain and discomfort in your body. Disused muscles become weak by supporting less your joints and making your joints more instable which causes even more pain. Disused joints (while they are stiff and painful), reduce joints’ range of motion which also increases pain. Lack of exercise has also found to be related to fatigue and overall stress of your body which makes it harder to cope with your symptoms. Regular exercise program has many benefits by improving your body function and mood while reducing stress, fatigue and pain.
Pilates is a great exercise form for clients with Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis. Pilates is low-impact, gentle and gradually progressive. Unfortunately, Pilates exercises should be taught preferably by a Physical Therapist. Pilates Instructors in general do not usually have enough experience in these three conditions and how they affect your joints, muscles and neuro-muscle control. Pilates Instructors who have dancers or fitness background find often difficult to understand Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis special needs and conditions. You simply can’t teach client who has pain and inflamed joints (Lupus, RA) or who has coordination and balance problems (MS) the same way as regular fitness clients. Pilates Instructors are not therapists and oftentimes a too confident Pilates Instructor without experience can make the client overdo the exercises and cause flare-up because it’s too much too soon. Pilates program should be specifically designed based on every client’s individual condition, limitation and needs. Without a proper education and experience that is obviously pretty hard to do.
If the Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis client has painful and inflamed joints, it’s important to maintain proper range of motion of joints and not put too much pressure on inflamed joints. Sometimes it is enough to do just isometric exercises which means muscle contraction without joint movements. Multiple Sclerosis client needs carefully assisted movements due to muscle weakness and co-ordination difficulties. There are many Pilates movements in Pilates repertoire which is very beneficial but maybe sometimes not enough. That’s why I warmly recommended to find a Pilates program where trained Physical Therapist is teaching and makes safely modifications based on each client’s current needs and also uses therapeutic exercise techniques as needed. A well designed Pilates and exercise program will definitely promote your physical and emotional well-being and quality of life.
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