There are a number of MS symptoms that can make it harder to maintain a good posture. These can come on gradually without you noticing.
If you have any weakness or imbalance in your muscles, especially the core or postural muscles in your back and stomach, it will be harder to keep your back and pelvis in a normal position or alignment and so harder to keep a good posture.
This can mean that you either have too big a curve in the low back so that you lean backwards, or too little (slumped back) which makes you slouch. These problems can cause neck and back strain. Strengthening these muscles will help.
- There are exercises for posture in the Exercise for people with MS pages.
- Pilates, yoga and tai chi can also help with this or ask your nurse or GP to be referred to a physiotherapist for assessment.
- If you slouch or stoop, your head also tends to jut forward, rather than sitting in line with your shoulders. The whole weight of your head (about 7kg or the weight of three bags of sugar) will be hanging on these small neck and shoulder muscles - no wonder they start complaining!
- Having furniture which supports your back in a good posture will help.
- If you have weakness in your legs, you may find standing for a while tricky and start to slouch. Try to alternate standing with perching or sitting for some tasks to give your legs a rest.
- If you find you are walking with a limp or dragging your feet after a while, try and pace yourself. Rest regularly to allow your muscles to recover and consider using a walking aid for longer distances so you are walking as 'normally' as you can.
Fatigue can also have an impact on your posture. The natural tendency is for your body to sag and slouch with the effects of gravity when you are fatigued.
Whether your fatigue is caused directly by MS (primary fatigue) or by secondary factors such as lack of sleep, stress, low mood, poor fitness or lack of exercise, inadequate diet or side effects from medication, the key to managing fatigue is planning, prioritising and pacing your activities and using energy effective strategies.
Poor eyesight may cause you to lean forward to see the computer screen or television, causing your shoulders to hunch and head jut forward. When at your computer, you may need to adjust the font size so you can see it more readily and take regular breaks to prevent eye strain and fatigue.
Numbness or tingling
If you have numbness or tingling in your legs, it may cause you to feel a bit unsure of your balance. This may cause you to stoop forward when you are walking to see where you are putting your feet, which can cause neck and back strain. Rather than looking straight down, you may find looking forward, scanning the ground a few metres ahead for obstacles is more helpful. This may also help you keep a bit more upright.
A physiotherapist will be able to assist you in assessing any of these issues in more detail and advising you as to how to help your specific problems.
This page will be reviewed within three years