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13 January 2016

Running with MS

After being diagnosed with primary progressive MS (PPMS) and experiencing MS dropfoot, passionate climber Elzina believed that she would never run or reach the summit of a peak again. Discovering innovative new methods of exercise with the Overcoming MS Program (which focus on the ‘bad side’) has set her on a journey to strengthening her body and feeling able to conquer any obstacle she faces.

“Running is impossible with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS).” These are my words two-and-a-half years ago, just after the diagnosis, walking slowly, with dropfoot…

My passion

Mountain climbing was the most important thing for me, hundreds of mountains all over the world. I could not imagine my life without my big passion. Suddenly my life was over… I thought. Everything I read about my illness was looking in one direction, downhill.

Overcoming MS and I

A few months later I discovered the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis website. I was happy, the site was filled with positive stories and ways to supress the illness. I immediately started the diet, meditation and took the supplements. And I discovered more. Exercising was something I was already doing all my life. But despite all the effort I put into it everything continuted to detoriorate. There was a moment when walking became very difficult, I discovered my toes of my right leg were not working any more and the right side of my body got weaker and weaker. 

A new type of exercise

Then I saw a video about PPMS and a new sort of exercising. Only the bad side was exercised. They didn’t know if it was working but tried it. I told my trainer this story, he decided to change the training target.

Every exercise was executed, first the ‘bad side’ then the ‘good side’ and the again the ‘bad side’. By then the training consisted of balance, co-ordination, strengthening and several calf exercises.

For my toes he had another exercise, putting 10 small balls in a bowl with my toes. I did this every morning when I woke up. After a couple of months it paid of, I was walking better.

A new phase was introduced – jumping rope. First it was almost impossible, after half a year I could jump 300 times. In the meanwhile we started running on the treadmill.

Onward to success

Also very difficult. We began slowly. My trainer held his hands around my hips so that I would not fall. Little by little it went better, now I run on uneven surface for 2,400 metres.

Every time I try to do a longer distance. Another thing I do is taking a cold shower in the morning when I get up. (I followed a workshop with ‘the Iceman’. 🙂 I start with a normal shower, the last minute I turn it on cold. It gives me energy, a good way to start the day. All these things together make me feel very positive. That I made such a progress is just unbelieveble. PPMS became my new mountain. I don’t know if I ever will reach the summit but I am certainly going uphill now. And I run!

Elzina Leur (Holland)