EXERCISING AND MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: experience of a fitness coach
Guest blog: Luke Tyburski, Australian Fitness Coach
My now close friend Nicholas Brown first approached me six years ago, he wanted the ‘Adonis' look: leaner, bigger, stronger, faster, fitter. He was 54 years old then.
At the age of 23 Nic was diagnosed with MS after some odd occurrences of numb hands and unexplained muscle weakness. He saw his life under threat so took the disease head on with a hard and fast paced life for decades.
By 50, his attacks became more frequent, and debilitating. His MS doctor instructed him it was time for a weekly injection of beta interferon.
Having minimal feeling in his feet and less than average balance while moving, a lack proprioceptive control was prevalent. With corporate life weight gain then a slimming down regime, as he needed surgery to remove his cancerous prostrate, (he remains cancer free) Nic then put the weight back on, but knew it was time for a change.
I had very limited knowledge of MS before meeting Nic, but after much research of the disease regarding exercise application, I began to formulate my own approach to helping him to not only train hard, but set and achieve some intense exercise goals. Combining his physical training while slowly implementing a new outlook on food, this would be our plan of attack for Nic to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
I needed to find a way to get his muscles throughout his lower extremities to continually contract without his brain having to send constant signals, although this may sound impossible, but through the use of vibration plates, balance boards, uneven platforms during exercises, and our favourite piece of equipment, The Bosu, the results have been noticeably astounding.
Nic's balance has increased, along with his strength, co-ordination, and overall fitness; being able to do 180 degree spins landing in a squat position on a Bosu multiple times is a great way to show these gains.
Approaching 60, Nic wanted a physical challenge to aim for. Climbing Mount Aspiring (3033m) on the South Island of New Zealand was selected, and I would accompany him on this adventure. Trekking through knee high snow on a glacier, climbing up rock faces, with some proper mountaineering rope work, hours of hiking up and down the mountain on unpredictable surfaces, while carrying a loaded pack was to challenge him no end.
With a training regime of strength, cardio, balance, mobility, and coordination exercises Nic’s overall fitness rose, as did his ability to know where he was placing his feet.
What amazed us both though, were the small sensations he began to feel through his feet, this was ground breaking. We even got him running for intervals on the treadmill, something he hadn’t done in 20 years.
Unfortunately due to bad weather we were unable to summit Mt Aspiring in December 2013, although we both did summit a smaller peak near Aspiring, Mount Bevan (2030m). The nine hour walk down the mountain that took us across deep snow, rocky ridges, an extreme waist height river crossing, and intense uneven slippery trails from the torrential downpours we endured made this adventure, well even more adventurous!
Nic not only surprised me with his level of fitness, balance, and coordination, but I think he too was a little impressed with his new found level of physical accomplishment.
From my experience working with Nic, constantly researching and experimenting with new exercises and training techniques, I truly feel that regular consistent exercise, or simple movement patterns for those with minimal mobility, can not only help resist this debilitating disease, but slow the effects down noticeably.
Incorporating balance and strength exercises, while maintaining a positive attitude towards the disease, and continually challenging the body to attempt new movements has shown in my eyes that it’s never too late to start, having MS is not a reason to stop exercising, and it’s never too late to start!
Dedication and hard work = results!
Endurance Adventurer, Natural Cook, Fitness Coach, Part-Time Writer.
To get in touch with Luke regarding training, wheat/gluten/dairy free cooking/baking, or his extreme adventures drop him an email on:
Luke is an Endurance adventurer, Natural Cook, Fitness Coach, part-time writer. He enjoys pushing the physical, mental, and Real Food nutritional boundaries across endurance sports, and on his own adventures. Whether it's spending a week running through the Sahara desert, cycling 18 hours in a day, or running down Mt Everest, it's all fun to Luke.
To learn more about what Luke does, and if you are interested in training with him please check out his website luketyburski.com (being relaucnched in August)
Or send me him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Adventure , The travel, The Challenge