Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Ankle weights help with MS leg spasticity on horseback.

I love a simple solution, when it works. Hey, multiple sclerosis is almost never simple!

Spasticity is a real problem for lots of MSers. Almost without warning and occasionally for excruciatingly long periods of time, our muscles can cramp up and seize up and hunch us into tight little bundles of agony.

Try that on horseback. 

Sure, horseback riding can be excellent for working on balance and overall fitness. But correct and effective equestrian posture means the rider needs to stretch his or her legs down long around the horse. (OK, horse racing jockeys take an altogether different approach, but that’s another story.)

I dabble in dressage, along with some trail riding and Western dressage. That means my legs need to be as long as possible, particularly for a short person.

Enter MS spasticity, and it can really cramp my style in the saddle, so to speak.

Thank God I happened to eavesdrop on a trainer friend (from an altogether different equestrian discipline), as he taught a Saddleseat lesson on one of his statuesque American Saddlebred horses. His student seemed to have a little trouble keeping her legs stretched down and her heels placed low in the stirrups. So this inventive trainer ducked out of the riding arena and returned with a pair of strap-on ankle weights.

Voila. That did the trick.

For my next ride at the barn, I wore my own five-pound ankle weights, attaching the Velcro straps right over my dressage breeches and paddock boots. Whew! They did the trick! My posture improved immediately. The horse became remarkably more responsive to my leg cues.

Seriously, I love a simple solution.

Anyone battling multiple sclerosis knows that our feet often feel heavy enough. On our worst days, we trudge along and can almost swear we are already wearing invisible ankle weights. But on horseback, the extra baggage can actually help to stretch our cramped-up legs down and offer a bit of relief.
Kiefer ankle weights
Product promo photo – fair use

1 comment:

  1. If you’re a beginner, you can start by choosing ankle weights anywhere between 5 to 8 pounds. When you start getting habituated with those ankle weights, a tremendous result will start appearing.


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