7 Stretches and Exercises to Improve Balance with MS

Jacqueline Ho | Jan 30, 2014 June 13, 1994

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If you’ve experienced muscle stiffness and balance issues with MS, take heart in the fact that it is possible to address these problems. Sticking to a challenging but safe exercise or rehabilitative program can result in improved balance. Make sure, however, that you speak with your doctor before trying any of these moves.

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Calf stretch

Stand with your feet together. Step back with right foot, keeping right leg straight and left leg bent at the knee. Place hands on left thigh and lean back on right heel until you feel a stretch in your right calf. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

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Hamstring stretch

Sit with legs extended and feet together. Reach down and place both hands around your right ankle. If you can’t reach, you can wrap a towel around the bottom of your right foot. Slowly lift right leg up—either with hands or the towel—until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

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Hip flexor stretch

Stand with legs a little less than shoulder width apart. Step back with right leg and slowly lower right knee to the floor. Place hands on top of left knee. Keep back straight and slowly push pelvis downward until a stretch is felt towards the front of your right hip. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds. Return to start and repeat on opposite side.

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Blind one-legged stand

Stand on one leg—it is best to face the walls in the corner of a room so you can touch the walls if you need to. Close your eyes, and try to balance on your leg for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

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Heel and toe raises

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly raise your heels a few inches off the floor while you balance on your toes. Lower heels to the ground. Repeat 10 times. Slowly raise toes as you shift your weight onto your heels. Lower toes to the ground. Repeat 10 times.

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Partial squats

Stand behind and place your hands on the back of a chair. Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Slowly lower into a partial squat while keeping back straight. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.

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Postural control challenge

This move requires a piece of foam, which you can find at most local sporting goods stores. Stand with both feet on the foam, which should provide a somewhat unstable surface. Keep your back straight and your head looking forward for 20 to 30 seconds.

NEXT: 8 Ways to Manage Fatigue with MS
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