Pilates Routines Suit Those with Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis

17 July 2017

Pilates helps people with Cerebral Palsy + MS 

A new form of pilates helps remove the barriers to exercise that wheelchair users face, so that people with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis can now enjoy the benefits.

Pilates is typically seen as a form of exercise that is only suitable for able-bodied people, but the great thing about pilates is that it can also be adapted for people who are wheelchair users, allowing them to benefit from things like improved mobility, muscle strength, enhanced mood and better fitness.


Revised pilates tailored to wheelchair users

Barriers such as fatigue, mobility and balance problems have long prevented people with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy from exercising. Up to 19% of people with multiple sclerosis are forced to use a wheelchair at some point, making them unsuited to traditional forms of pilates, which include a number of standing positions as part of the routine.

A 2013 study from Edinburgh identified the benefits of pilates for wheelchair users, finding that most of the key exercises can be adapted for people who are sitting in a wheelchair or lying down. These exercises strengthen core muscles and improve pelvic control, posture, breathing and movement, and participants in the 12-week study experienced less pain, improved sitting stability and better posture.


The holistic benefits of exercise

Like everyone, people with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy can enjoy the benefits of regular exercise, and the adapted pilates routines are compatible with wheelchair use. Regular exercise has a positive impact on physical activity levels, as well as helping to improve the symptoms of fatigue, emotional wellbeing, social connectedness and quality of life.

Leg fatigue can make exercise challenging for people with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, making it difficult to stay active. Researchers in Oxford and Birmingham have found that monitoring leg fatigue symptoms during and after exercise can help identify whether pilates is an appropriate form of physical activity that delivers the benefits of exercise without increasing fatigue.

Overall, pilates is a beneficial form of activity that can help keep muscles conditioned and contributes to an overall feeling of physical and emotional wellbeing. The ability to adapt these routines to suit wheelchair users means that it’s now more accessible than ever for people with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.


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