6 Great Exercises That Make Living With MS Easier

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Exercise offers powerful health advantages when you have multiple sclerosis. Exercise can improve your heart and lung function. It can help you maintain your range of motion and stay flexible, increase your energy level, and help prevent your muscles from wasting away. Get your doctor’s okay to start, and then ease your way into these six stretching and strengthening moves. No special equipment or fancy sportswear required!

1. Deep-Breathing Exercise

Practice this deep-breathing technique to relax, relieve stress, and get more energy. Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent, feet flat. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Feel your chest move up and down as you breathe normally. Take a deep breath in through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Count to three, then exhale by slowly blowing out with lips pursed as you count to six. Tighten your stomach muscles as you exhale.

2. Deep Breathing With Arm Raises

This exercise is good for improving your shoulders’ range of motion. Start in the same position as the previous exercise, with your arms at your sides. As you take a deep breath, raise your arms up toward the ceiling, and then down toward the floor. As you exhale, extend your arms outward and sweep them along the floor until they’re back at your sides, as though you were making a snow angel. Keep your tummy muscles tight.

3. Knee Hugger

This exercise improves range of motion in your back and your hips. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent. Straighten your right leg on the floor, and then bend it up toward your chest. Wrap your arms around it. Hold for a moment, then place the foot back on the floor with your knee bent. Repeat with your left leg.

4. Twisting on the Floor

Increase your range of motion in your back with side-to-side twists. Lie on your back on the floor, arms at your sides, knees bent and together, and feet flat. Twist to the left to bring both knees down to the floor (your butt and lower back will lift off the floor as you do this, but keep shoulders flat). Your knees may not go all the way to the floor. Hold for a moment, and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.  

5. Twisting on All Fours

This exercise targets your upper body, focusing on improving the range of motion in your back and chest muscles. Start on your hands and knees. Then, with your right arm, reach under your body and across to the left side. Reverse direction. With the same arm, reach  out to your right side. Raise your arm as high up as feels comfortable. Follow your arm with your eyes. Keep the movement slow and controlled. Repeat with your left arm.

6. No Pain in the Neck

To reduce tension in your neck and shoulders, try the ear-to-shoulder roll. Sit in a chair and hold your head straight. Bring your right ear down toward your shoulder. Then, relax the shoulder, letting it drop slightly. Hold the position for 30 seconds, as you lean forward and look toward the ground. Repeat on the other side.

Moving Fitness to the Next Level

Exercise encourages more exercise. When you’re ready to take the next step, ask your doctor about working with a physical therapist, personal trainer, or physiologist. These experts can plan a safe exercise program to help you maintain your flexibility and further improve your range of motion. They can also adapt exercises for your abilities and muscle strength.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 7
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Everybody Stretch. Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. http://mssociety.ca/en/pdf/EverybodyStretch.pdf

  2. Exercises for people with multiple sclerosis, Series I. National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability. http://www.nchpad.org/226/1505/Exercise~for~People~with~Multiple~Sclerosis~-~Series~I