Why you should participate in the annual May 50k

Healthy Living

Em Batger

The May 50K is an annual virtual fitness challenge that encourages you to get moving while raising money to support life changing research into the prevention, treatment and finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The challenge is to walk, run, or move 50k, 100km or 150km in May. You can complete this at your own pace, you simply just log you KM as you do them. 

In 2023 the May 50km goes hand in hand with World MS day which falls on May 30th. I think it’s a great opportunity for us all to understand a little more about this disease that affects more than 2 million people globally. 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. When somebody has MS their immune system has an abnormal response directed at the CNS. 

What exactly happens? Well the disease process is somewhat complicated but If I were to try and simplify; 

- Chronic inflammation arises from the abnormal immune response —> Inflammation can 

damage the myelin which is the fatty protective layer that surrounds our nerves. This process is called demyelination —> Demyelination can impact on nerve conduction velocity —> Over time the areas of demyelination can become fibrotic which is referred to as Gliosis —> Over time this can create scarring of the CNS —> over time the cumulative ares of damage can lead to disability. 

The clinical course of this disease can vary greatly from a chronic stable disease to rapidly evolving and debilitating forms. 

The most common type of MS which affects 85% of sufferer’s is relapsing remitting MS. Characterised by short attacks on the CNS followed by return, often completely, back to normal function. There are also more progressive forms of the disease which are characterised by a more steady decline in function. 

Why? Unfortunately the exact cause of this disease is not fully understood and there are many proposed factors that may contribute to the onset of disease. 

MS has many symptoms with some of the common being: 

  • Muscle spasm and weakness 

  • Lack of coordination and balance 

  • Continence problems including bladder incontinence and constipation 

  • Neurological problems such as dizziness, pins and needles in the hands and feet 

  • Vision disturbances 

  • Fatigue 

There are many more than the above listed and they are often variable, unpredictable and can change in severity between attacks. 

The treatment of MS is multifactorial. One of the roles of the physio is to encourage movement and maintain functional abilities. There is strong evidence to show that exercise can be beneficial in delaying negative impacts of the disease. Strength / resistance training is important to maintain bone mass and aerobic forms of training can have a positive impact on fatigue. Exercise should be individually tailored to suit the clients ability. We can also play a role in helping to manage pain associated with muscle weakness and spasticity. Specialised pelvic health physio’s can also implement strategies to help in the management of continence problems. 

As the worldwide prevalence continues to increase lets lace up our exercise shoes and get moving this May to raise awareness and much needed funds to learn more about MS.

Em Batger

Please note: Em's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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