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Exercising while relapsing?

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  • Exercising while relapsing?

    Going through an MS attack sucks. I just got dinged with one a couple weeks ago (and no steroids for another week). I'm still managing to exercise, but holy cow it's tricky. Fortunately my relapse didn't put me in the hospital or anything, but the leg strength is gone and arm strength is pretty pathetic. Who else is crazy enough to hit the gym when battling a relapse?

    Oh, and my advice is don't ride a bike when you are relapsing. I was practically bonking just pedaling out of the driveway! But I still stubbornly did a half-hour ride before my jello legs finally gave out. Getting off your mountain bike with jello legs, I discovered, is near impossible. Yikes!
    Dave Bexfield

  • #2
    You've gotta be kidding!

    Dave - Off the bike and onto the couch! You need to WATCH some step aerobic videos and eat popcorn (works arm muscles as you life popcorn to mouth) or just surf channels (just like surfing only no shark danger)! Reframe your idea of calorie burning!

    Relapse be-gone! And hey, that's one advantage of PPMS - we NEVER get relapses! Just downhill everyday (like downhill skiing only no snow!)


    • #3
      Ah Dave, I feel ya! I've been fighting a relapse since February (sucky sucky!) and I still get out there every Friday and walk a mile on the Tramway trail. the worst is walking up the ramp to the bridge over Tramway, balance is pretty much totally gone so I use the crutches and get a total body workout. I feel that if I stop moving I'll never get going again. And Dr Ford has told me twice that he wants me to work through this relapse without the steroids since I've had them three times in the last year. Luckily its not bad enough to put me in the hospital, just make it very difficult to do anything.


      • #4
        I feel for you. I remember reading many years ago that you should exercise through an exacerbation so you'll have some muscles left when it's over. Like KristaH says, if I stop moving I'll never get started again.


        • #5
          I was so good last fall. I was sticking to my running plan, I looked great, I was active...and then January came. I had no energy, and no drive to work out. Eh, it's winter, I'll take a week off.

          Four.months.later - I find out why. CT scan, MRI, all the fun stuff. At least I have an excuse for why I wasn't exercising. But I tell ya, trying to get BACK in shape WHILE battling fatigue SUCKS! Don't do it! I never know if I'm totally zonked from fatigue or from a good workout. This stupid disease makes that awesome good I-worked-hard tired feeling into a nervous, is this a flare? worried feeling. Ugh.

          I'm doing it, though. I may run on some seriously wobbly legs and the piddly little .4 mi uphill may force me to stop (*ahem*) times, but dammit, I made it to the top AND back down again! Woo-hoo! Dunno what I'll do if my vision goes. Guess I'll just throw on a bandana and pretend I'm practicing the blindfold run!


          • #6
            Hi - this is Bridget - I'm back on the thread. I've been feeling great until about a week ago when I got zonked with fatigue (not a full relapse - just my old symptoms getting "louder" for a while). I normally run 4-5 miles a couple times a week. This past Sunday I was feeling totally unable to get out of bed so I did an experiment to see if my muscles were still able to work and be strong even though I felt so miserable. I started by taking a walk in the park; but 1/4 mile into it I still felt yucky and wasn't really getting any benefit from it. Then I tried running a bit - and still felt yucky overall; but my legs could carry me and I did about 4 miles, a little slower than normal; but still pretty good. So, for me, it seems that the fatigue is internal messed up nerve messages instead of actual physical tiredness.

            Various neuros have told me 'yes, exercise' or 'cut back on exercise' during relapses - so I don't think there's any clear cut message out there on what we should do. I know I feel better if I do something cardio -- I have this idea that the repetative motion of running or biking helps my legs remember what to do. I wouldn't recommend road biking during a relapse given balance and vision situations being out of whack; but the spinning bikes in the gym are pretty good.


            • #7
              Bridget, interesting that you see the difference between "nerve" fatigue and "physical" fatigue. I'm going to have to ask my body about that. Lately when I run, I get that super heavy, drained feeling in my legs and one step in front of another is tough. I had to push hard to get 3 miles in today, even though my plan was for 4. I'm training for the Mt Washington Road Race - 7.6 mi of ALL UPHILL! I'd better get over this leg fatigue quickly.

              I have noticed that since I've been back into being active every day, my twitches are lot more prominent. I sit at work all night and twitch-twitch-twitch. I figure it is just telling me I done good and worked dem muscles. Heck, they don't hurt, and the only thing they slow down is my internet-browsing, so I'm just amused by it and move on.


              • #8
                My doctor said it was okay for me to run during a relapse as long as I wasn't having balance issues.


                • #9
                  new dx run/walker with questions

                  ok a search on running found the site on exercising and relapses i guess the answer is yes maybe no . I am just learning about this disease and am sort of lost. My symptoms are a blurry eye, leg tingling and cramps in left leg and burning sensation in right leg. The eye blurriness in gone, the cramps are gone but the tingling and occational burning sensation are still present. Does that mean I am still having a "flare up", permanent damage or just crazy. I have just finished a half marathon and plan or doing a marathon in Feb. During the half the tingling sensation intensity varied during the run walk and I went to extended walks when it increased but it did not go to cramps. Do other feel this? Should I be concerned? Should I press my doctor for more help on this? He said to just keep doing what I'm doing.


                  • #10
                    From my perspective, sounds like your doc is right: keep doing what you're doing. And I would say you are not in a flare. You'd know. I had both tingling and burning sensations (and cramps and a blurry eye), and they may stick around and they may disappear over time. For me, the tingles stuck, the Bengay feeling went away.

                    Also, symptoms may get amped up during exercise because of the heat, but that's not hurting you unless it causes you to fall or run into a parked car while your brain is daydreaming about why your leg has this stupid burning sensation. Only then, after you've plugged said car, will people think you are crazy. But right now, no, you are not crazy...

                    Keep us posted on your marathon!
                    Dave Bexfield


                    • #11
                      I stumbled onto this thread and don't know if you'll check back, but I run when I'm having symptoms, and have run through a flare. (Although, it was really weird to run with my whole left side feeling as though I was coming off of Novicane!)

                      My neuro wants me to keep doing what I'm doing, because I seem to be doing well. My symptoms are varied degrees of numbness on random parts of both legs. I have other symptoms, but the legs are what bother me while running. I've learned not to be afraid of this, but to pay attention.

                      I've run 7 marathons and have another in Redding, CA coming Jan. 16. I'll also run the Napa Valley Marathon this March. I believe in keeping my strength up.

                      When I was first diagnosed(in 2005), I read in a book somewhere that it was important to take whatever excersise you were doing and do that and more if possible. I was already doing marathons, so....I just keep plugging along.

                      Good Luck with your marathon. Where is it?


                      • #12
                        Teresa26.2 and bjlokey,

                        I came across this site yesterday while looking for runners dealing with MS issues hoping for some advice, feedback and a chance to share experiences in overcoming flare ups during training.

                        I was diagnosed with MS in 2005 and started running 3 years ago. I just ran my fist marathon last month and continue to train for an upcoming half marathon next month and will try another full marathon this spring (touch wood).

                        This past week I began feeling like I wasn't fully controlling my right foot while running on the treadmill. My foot also started to tingle and give that burning sensation which intensified as I pushed on into my workout. Fortunately, I did finish my run, and in a weird way, it felt afterwards that my little flare up distracted me from thinking about how tired my fast pace was making me and helped me to concentrate on reaching my workout goal.

                        I am slowly learning to run while being what feels on some days like being only 80 per cent in control of my body. If anyone has any advice to give or similar expereinces to share, I'm all ears.

                        Good luck to both of you as you continue your training and in your next races.


                        • #13
                          Exercising through a flair

                          I used to run but now I'm more into bicycling. I suffered a little flair about 3 months ago while I was training for an event this past November. I continued my training but I dropped the intensity of my workouts significantly, in fact I had to move from outdoor riding to an indoor trainer to get the intensity low enough to be able to put in a reasonable amount of time on the bike. Even at that there were a couple of days I just couldn’t do it. Those days I laid off. I got through that flair in about three weeks but couldn’t really say whether the exercise helped me get over it sooner or not. I will say that continuing with the training program during that flair enabled me to do as well as I did in my event though.

                          I know runners are generally pretty good at knowing when to push and when to rest in their training programs but your complaint does sound like you might be pushing a litttle too hard. You could try cross training on a bike or in a pool for a week then go back to your running program and see if the foot problem has cleared up.

                          I have never heard or read anything anywhere that indicated exercising through a flair could permanently worsen the MS. I did have a PT tell me to slow down once but when I questioned it she cited personal safety reasons. She was concerned that if I got too fatigued I might be more prone to falling down. Well, I can handle that.

                          Cool to see so many runners here, good luck to you guys. I hope to hear more about your training and how your events go.


                          • #14
                            Wow, it's good to hear of others like me. Sometimes I feel like an anomaly.

                            I can't give good advice about running, or any exercise for that matter, except that I live with it and pay attention. Yeah, sometimes it feels like I'm running without full control of my body parts. When parts start acting up, I make the constant desicion to either ignore, slow down, or stop.

                            You know, I don't think it's the actual symptoms that slow me down most of the time. I think it's the mental part of constantly concentrating that's hard. That is draining.

                            I'm a slow marathoner. My best time was this last year's Big Sur Marathon at 5:00:06. I was so close to a 4:xx:xx. I hope to change that soon. Redding is considered a harder marathon, but not as hard as Big Sur. If not Redding, Napa. Now that one is supposed to be "easy".


                            • #15

                              There is no such thing as a slow marathon in my book. Congratulations on your time and keep on pushing for your goals. I know you'll grab that 4:xx:xx marathon soon enough.

                              Many thanks. You have given me great advice. Until now, I have always ignored my symptoms while running because they were rather mild. Now, for the first time, I have been forced to take note and make adjustments. I too use a simultaneous combination of all three options: sometimes I slow down, sometimes I stop and there are times to ignore it. As it was aptly pointed out in the above post, runners tend to know when to push and when to pull back.

                              For sure the lack of full control of the body while running requires extra concentration. I too find this very draining some days while other days it's not a problem. I wish I knew the secret to this so that I could overcome the fatigue everyday.

                              I ran the Athens Classic Marathon last month. I was hoping for 3:30, and I ended up running a 4:27 due to fatigue and joint pain. Disappointing yes, but I am not giving up. I am training now for a half marathon in Naples, FL this January and will take another shot at a marathon in Thessaloniki, Greece in April.

                              If I have more flair ups during training that could be of interest to you and other runners, I will gladly post them. Especially if through trial and error I happen to find effective ways of dealing with them. Best of luck.