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    You are here : Home » Get Involved » MSRC Interactive » Help, Advice and Inspiration from people with MS » Experiences of a personal trainer helping an MS cl

    Experiences of a personal trainer helping an MS client

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    About 6 weeks ago, I received a text message from an old client of mine, Paul. He was sending me details of a friend of his, who wanted to have some personal training with me.

    I thanked Paul for the referral, and asked him how he was, knowing that about 2 years previously Paul had, had major surgery on his back, resulting in him having two of his discs replaced with artificial ones.

    I was expecting a reply from him updating me on his back, but instead was shocked when he replied with ‘Not too bad, but struggling with the hand shakes since I was diagnosed with MS’.

    I felt so much for Paul. He has had a rough ride these past 3 to 4 years with injury, especially to his back, and now MS.

    I spent the rest of the day training clients, but Paul was very much at the forefront of my thoughts. After I trained my last client that day, I rang Paul and got his voicemail. I decided to leave a very brief, but upbeat message, telling him basically to get his arse back to the gym with me asap.

    I heard nothing back for around 4/5 days. I was thinking, ‘oh no, maybe I went in a bit strong’. Then early one morning I received a call from Paul’s wife. She told me Paul really appreciated the message, and that he would be contacting me soon.

    He contacted me later that day, and made an appointment to see me the following week.

    For the next 5 days, I researched the internet, spoke to other respected trainers, contacted the MS Society, and other support groups to see what research had been carried out regarding physical training with people who have MS.

    All I could find were walking tests and a study training MS people with the vibrating power plate. The findings of this study were that, power plate training had no benefits to MS people.

    My own conclusion to this lack of study with physically training MS people, is the very real worry about the negative effects MS people can suffer when their core body temperature increases.

    The more I read about the MS condition, the more I am fascinated and the more I am determined to help Paul and hopefully help a lot of other people.

    I feel in some ways that I am flying blind here. On the other hand, I am very experienced and confident in my profession. I have a very good network of fantastic professional trainers and practitioners. Also, a lot will depend on feedback from Paul himself.

    I asked Paul to email me as much info as he can on his condition. I have decided to print it here in it’s entirety. This way anyone reading this email will understand his particular symptoms and our starting point.

    Hi Ray

    Here is some info on my MS.

    I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS between Feb and May last year. I had a brain MRI (because of my tinnitus) that showed a number of lesions on the brain and spinal cord and that started a bunch of tests which ended in the MS diagnosis. My symptoms were pretty minor, pins and needles in the legs and feet, some loss of sensitivity (mainly on my legs), an odd, tight sensation across my abdomen that comes and goes, and some loss of balance. I still have these most of the time, to varying degrees from day to day. They are not as bad as they were a year ago.

    I started on the drugs trial about 7 months ago. It's full title is "A multicentre, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled , parallel-group, dose finding study to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of three doese of ACT-128800, an oral S1P1 receptor agonist, administered for twenty-four weeks in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis." The trial has been extended for 2 years, and I'm on the extension, which is called a "Multicentre, randomized, double blind, parallel-group extension to study AC-058B201 to investigate the long term safety, tolerability and efficacy of 10, 20 and 40mg/day ACT-128800, an oral S1P1 receptor agonist, inpatients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis".

    The big thing about these drugs is that they are oral, as opposed to the current range of MS drugs which are all taken by injections of one sort or other. And they might work better than the current drugs, which are pretty useless really.

    Second Update

    I started training an ex client of mine, Paul, around 10 weeks ago. Paul had developed MS approximately 2 years ago.

    I initiated Paul’s programme on two fronts. Firstly, to build his fitness up and secondly, to strengthen his legs.
    I asked Paul why he had come back to train with me, and what he was expecting to achieve through his sessions with me. And this was Paul’s reply;
    “The reasons I come to train with Ray are firstly my self-confidence.
    I know that MS is a progressively deterioration disease, and I want to do as much as I can to stop or prevent the deterioration.

    I also want to feel as strong as I can, I used to do a lot of martial arts, weight training and climbing, and want to feel top notch again.”
    I wanted Paul to get confidence in the training, through actual visible evidence that he was getting stronger by the week.

    I did this by using interval training on a stationary gym bike and using the leg press machine. I kept the reps to 10, and increased the weight each set.
    Paul reacted well, and indeed got stronger each week. I felt though, that something was missing.

    The reason I felt this was, firstly, Paul missed a few sessions, which is always a bit of a tell-tale sign that ‘things ain’t quite right’. Also because, he has a good varied training background, so needed more challenging sessions. I needed to light him up a bit!
    I changed everything!
    His aerobic training is still via stationary bike, but without the weights. I am using modern strength and core training, using JC bands and bodyweight exercises that demand high levels of concentration and application from Paul.

    Weight training

     This together with ladder drills, which are a series of choreographed routines that challenge agility and stability, have really worked well here.

    Ladder Drills

    The result is that Paul is stronger and leaner. His confidence has improved too.

    I am very pleased with the results so far.

    First Update
    Paul turned up for our first session looking great. He is tall, 6’3”, slim, he is 46 but looks 36, and a great smile.

    We talked about his condition and symptoms. I was very concerned about the body core temperature rising issue. Paul assured me that this does not affect him. He loves the hot weather and hot baths. Never-the-less, I feel I need to respect that this could potentially cause a problem.

    Other issues are first Paul’s back, and secondly, Paul has a shoulder problem too, that he has been told requires surgery, but is reluctant to have.

    On the plus side, Paul has a great training background. He still retains a lot of muscle tissue and is lean. He also loves to climb, and is an experienced climber. He still regularly goes climbing at the various indoor climbing walls in London. Also, I know Paul from when I used to train him. I know that he will throw himself into training and I must hold him back a bit.

    My initial thoughts on how to commence with this programme, was to work Paul hard on getting him fit first. This would mean aerobic work mainly, but the body temperature is too much of a potential issue.

    Now my thoughts have changed.

    The need is to strengthen Paul’s body, especially in his legs. It must be progressive, even if it’s only very small increases in strength each week. I want Paul to enjoy his sessions with me, and really look forward each week to coming and training with me.

    Recovery is going to be very important. This is where feedback is vital for me. Paul has done no training for over 2 years. He will get muscle soreness. Correct post training nutrition will be very important, as will rest.

    It’s been 4 weeks now. The training has been quite general so far. Paul’s fitness is quite good, although, he does not think so. The last session, I used resistance on his legs for the first time. I used the leg press machine with weights. I kept Paul’s range of movement limited, and increased the weight gradually for each set. I finished the session with back and tricep work to strengthen Paul’s upper body and compliment his cimbing.

    Leg Press work Leg Press work

    Feedback from Paul was soreness in his leg muscles, which lasted nearly 3 days. I am not too concerned with this, as this would be normal for someone who had not participated in any resistance work for 2 years.

    I believe that I have a basic strength programme in place for the next 4-6 weeks. Each week, I would expect Paul’s strength to improve week by week.

    I have been invited by the MSRC to write on their website with the results of my programme and work with Paul.

    I am very grateful for this opportunity, as I am very grateful to Paul himself, for allowing and trusting me to train him.

    I will do my very best that I can for him.

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (MSRC)

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