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muscle pain for 15 minutes to 30 minutes after exercise is usually normal.  Symptoms that last longer than 30 minutes to 60 minutes reflect muscle overwork and possible injury.  If this occurs, the exercise should be reduced or stopped.  Any exercise that causes additional weakness should be discontinued immediately.

Pacing.  Pacing has been shown to be safe and effective in increasing strength in some individuals.  The intervals of exercising can be as short as two minutes to five minutes alternating with equal intervals of rest.  The evidence also shows that secondary symptoms, such as generalized fatigue, can be reduced as individuals become conditioned and are able to perform more work with less expenditure of effort.

Use your best muscles.  Polio os often a focal, asymmetric disease with variable amounts of weakness in different limbs.  Exercise the limbs least affected or those completely unaffected by polio, while avoiding the more affected extremities.  For instance, if only the legs were affected, then the arms can be used in a fairly strenuous program that includes swimming or using an upper extremity arm bicycle; meanwhile, the legs will usually get adequate exercise in the course of doing daily activities.

Hydrotherapy.  Water therapy was the exercise of choice for many persons during their recovery from the original polio.  It is still excellent therapy.  

Because of the buoyancy of water, it allows people to do things they can’t perform on land.  For especially weak limbs, inflatable cuffs can be used to float an extremity.  For other limbs, water resistance provides a workout that can be fine-tuned to each person’s strength.  The principal disadvantages of hydrotherapy are that the temperature may not suit one’s body and it may be difficult to find pools that have lifts (if needed).  Also, the surfaces around pools tend to be slippery and dangerous for anyone with a tendency to fall.

Warm-up and cool-down.  As with other exercise programs, a warm-up followed by gentle stretching should be done to improve flexibility and reduce the possibility of injury.  After exercising, a cool-down period should take place.  Finally, the type of activity should be one that the participant enjoys to minimize the potential for dropping out because of lack of interest

Halstead, M.D., Lauro S., editor.  Managing Post-Polio, A Guide to Living Well with Post-Polio Syndrome. Washington, CC: NRH Press, 1998. pp. 30-33

Reprinted with kind permission of Florida East Coast Post-Polio Support Group – Vol. 13 #5 – their source:  Colorado Post-Polio Connections, Volume 22, Number 1, Winter 2007

DAILY STRETCHING EXERCISE

A.

LYING DOWN

1.

Stretch arms above head, lengthen spine for 20 counts.  Do 5X

2.

Elevate one arm, lower other alternately.  10X

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