Exercises for Personal Trainers Working with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Clients

People diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are often overlooked as candidates for a solid and rewarding fitness program. For many years they have been told not to exercise to avoid activities that may exacerbate their symptoms. This philosophy has led to additional physical ailments and limitations in the MS community resulting in increased frequency and degree of symptoms. As fitness professionals, we know this avoidant approach to be in contrast to a lifestyle promoting wellness and leading to a better quality of life for MSers.

In the MS Fitness Specialist course, we provide exercises and progressions for you to implement within the fitness program of an MS client. Remember, for any client, especially for a client with disease or limitations, Every Rep is a Step! Every step towards a goal is progress towards better health. Take the Shoulder Raise, for example …

With this exercise, as with all, it is important to concentrate on the ability to control the muscle with the use of proper form.

Front Shoulder Raise with Cable

  1. Start with arms down at sides with cable grips in each hand, palms facing back. Cables should be set below knee level.
  2. Concentrate on which muscles are about to be engaged! First, draw the navel in towards spine to engage the core muscles. Then, think about the front deltoid (shoulder) muscle that will work against the resistance.
  3. In a slow, controlled fashion, raise straight arms up in front of body for a count of 6 until they are parallel to the floor (or at a height that is comfortable for the client) and to each other, palms down, squeezing shoulders at the top of this position. If shoulder joint discomfort is felt, try facing palms towards each other.
  4. Lower arms back down for a 6 count, allowing shoulders to stretch at the end position (10-15 Reps)

There are many options to choose from when it comes to exercises and fitness programs that speak to the general population (people who want to get fit and transform their bodies), but where does that leave those who are challenged by an obstacle, such as a chronic disease, disability, or even a mental block or fear?

Modifications are often necessary to ensure that exercises are executed safely and effectively. In this example, using the Shoulder Raise, for MS clients it is especially important that a concentrated effort is placed on the mind-to-muscle connection; concentrating on controlling the muscle in this movement will effectively bypass the nervous system rather than directly engaging it. We want to bypass the nervous system for MS client programming and focus on the ability to control the muscle for the most long term benefit and symptom control.

As the goal of our partnership, NFPT and MS Fitness Challenge work to empower those with MS. Through your participation and continuing education in this area as an elite fitness professional, you can too. Together, we support health, wellness, and fitness to achieve the best quality of life possible while managing the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. This is the intention and direction of the MS Fitness Training Specialist course.

As a Certified Personal Trainer, you have already achieved your foundational trainer certification, and now you may discover a niche in your community by exploring the various, perhaps underserved, populations that can benefit from personal training. In the U.S., each week there are more than 200 newly diagnosed cases of MS. These are people struggling with the mental and physical impact of a life-changing diagnosis.

By becoming a certified MS Fitness Training Specialist, you can help MSers to shift their perspective and discover why and how fitness can change their lives for the betterSufferers of MS will benefit from your expertise, discovering that their symptoms can be managed and even mitigated with professional fitness guidance.

After you become MS Fitness Training Specialist, join the MSFitness Challenge Gym to be connected to a community of MSers with programming protocols that are emphasized and encouraged by Every Rep is a Step! Spearheaded by MS experts, David Lyons and Shannon Ferrigno, this community is focused on the fitness and nutritional needs of MSers. Achieve the MS specialist credential and then get hooked up with a community of people who will connect you with MSers in your area who are looking for your services.

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About

Angie Pattengale is co-owner and chief executive officer of the National Federation of Professional Trainers, where she works behind the scenes on relationship-building, advertising, policies and procedures, test development and delivery, and growing the business. She joined her father, NFPT founder Ron Clark, at the company in 1994.