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EXERCISE FOR POST-POLIO PATIENTS

People who have muscle and nerve diseases, such as post-polio syndrome and multiple sclerosis, usually do not exercise because their muscles hurt during exercise and they feel extremely tired after they exercise. A recent report in The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation shows that can benefit greatly from a program to strengthen their muscles.

Your muscles are made up of thousands of individual fibers. Each muscle fiber is innervated by a single nerve. When a nerve dies, the muscle fiber that is attached to that nerve lacks a stimulus to make it contract, so that fiber dies also. Multiple sclerosis and post-polio syndrome destroy nerves, causing muscle fibers to disappear. When such people exercise, their muscles have fewer fibers, so the remaining fibers have to work much harder, fatigue earlier and take far longer to recover. Strengthening the fibers allows a person with nerve damage to do more work before the muscles fatigue during exercise.

However, all people who have nerve damage become extraordinarily weak on the day after they exercise. To avoid long recovery periods after exercise, they can start out by lifting very light weights in 3 sets of ten and stop exercising immediately when they feel burning, heaviness and fatigue. They can try again at least 48 hours later, provided that their muscles do not feel heavy before they start. When they can perform 3 sets of 10 with a certain weight comfortably and feel fresh on the next day, they are ready to try a slightly heavier weight in their next workout.

June 5th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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