Aquatics (Aquatic Exercise)
From The MS Information Sourcebook, produced by the National MS Society.
Aquatics-exercise in water-is often recommended because it provides optimal exercise conditions for the person with MS. Water reduces the effects of gravity, and the buoyancy or weightlessness that occurs in water helps a person with weakened limbs attain a greater range of motion. In addition, chest-high water can provide support, enabling many persons with MS to stand and maintain balance for exercises with less effort than on land. The resistance that water provides can also be utilized for purposes of muscle strengthening. There are also many types of commercially-available devices that can increase the water resistance and provide an excellent method of strengthening.
Hydrotherapy incorporates specific techniques, performed in water, which can be utilized to decrease symptoms and address functional mobility deficits.
Water also helps reduce body heat that can be generated by exercise. Because the core temperature of the body remains lower, there is less overheating, which is often a cause of temporary worsening of MS symptoms. Water temperatures of 80° to 84° F are usually recommended.
Many Society Chapters Sponsor Aquatics Programs
Many chapters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society sponsor aquatics programs or know of local programs appropriate for people with MS. Other forms of exercise and physical therapy can also be adapted to the needs and abilities of individuals with MS.
For Healthcare Professionals