Monday, July 20, 2015

Challenge groups?

If you are on Facebook or any type of social media, I'm sure you've seen a lot of promotion of programs that sell products (shakes, meal plans, workout videos, books) to help people get control of their weight and other lifestyle issues.

These programs, like Avocare and Beachbody to name two, appear to be quite popular and helpful for many subscribers.

I have nothing against a "pay to play" plan, but I am deeply interested in another model.  I am wanting to start challenge groups that are not based upon product sales and pyramid-type membership.  What I see is an online space where people join together in challenge groups to focus on the issues that matter most to them:  diet, exercise, mobility, vision, and so on.  The groups could be focal and target a single issue, or they could be multi-faceted.

My idea is to create online meeting spaces and electronic communications to teach, challenge and support.

I am open to the inclusion of people with or without MS who see value in joining together to improve health and well being.

I am also open to ideas of what would be beneficial to members of this growing community.

Comment, if you please, your thoughts about this idea.  Interested?  Know someone who might be?  Let's start sharing the idea and use this blog as a starting point to challenge one another!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Massage is the winner!

Which is the preferred intervention for people with MS:

  • exercise therapy
  • massage
  • exercise + massage
  • status quo (maintaining course of medical treatment/lifestyle)?

As a person who focuses on exercise of many kinds, I chose the third option (exercise plus massage). I figured the biggest gains were from exercise and the massage probably helped with recovery.


The answer is correct, but the emphasis may be more on the massage side than the exercise component.  

Full study details can be found at:

Last fall, I started having regular massage therapy sessions.  It has made a measurable difference in my ability to move freely.  Several nagging back issues (likely caused by my funky gait) have resolved.  The literature is filled with positive outcomes from massage.  

I urge you to do the research and find a good masseuse.  I have locked onto a Chinese massage therapist who needs little to no English to understand my every physical limitation and pain.

Rub it out!!


More details:

Massage therapy and exercise therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled pilot study.



The primary aim was to investigate the comparative effects of massage therapy and exercise therapy on patients with multiple sclerosis. The secondary aim was to investigate whether combination of both massage and exercise has an additive effect.


Randomized controlled pilot trial with repeated measurements and blinded assessments.


Local Multiple Sclerosis Society.


A total of 48 patients with multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to four equal subgroups labelled as massage therapy, exercise therapy, combined massage-exercise therapy and control group.


The treatment group received 15 sessions of supervised intervention for five weeks. The massage therapy group received a standard Swedish massage. The exercise therapy group was given a combined set of strength, stretch, endurance and balance exercises. Patients in the massage-exercise therapy received a combined set of massage and exercise treatments. Patients in the control group were asked to continue their standard medical care.


Pain, fatigue, spasticity, balance, gait and quality of life were assessed before and after intervention.


Massage therapy resulted in significantly larger improvement in pain reduction (mean change 2.75 points, P = 0.001), dynamic balance (mean change, 3.69 seconds, P = 0.009) and walking speed (mean change, 7.84 seconds, P = 0.007) than exercise therapy. Patients involved in the combined massage-exercise therapy showed significantly larger improvement in pain reduction than those in the exercise therapy (mean change, 1.67 points, P = 0.001).


Massage therapy could be more effective than exercise therapy. Moreover, the combination of massage and exercise therapy may be a little more effective than exercise therapy alone.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Like many or all of you, I struggle deeply with sharing both the fact that I have MS and the impact that it has on my daily life.  I have not let it be widely known in my community and even circle of friends that I have MS.  Only close family and a very few friends know the whole story.

I occasionally ask myself why I choose to keep this diagnosis private.  Here, I consciously use the word "private" versus "secret."  It is no secret that I fight MS - but I do keep it a private battle.

Again, I ask myself WHY?  WHY do I feel the need to go this mostly alone?

Is is healthy or productive to keep this to myself?

What demons am I battling with my image to others that push me to zip my lips?

When does one decide to share this information, to whom, and why or why not?

I hope you have better answers to this one than I!  If so, please share and I am certain your words could help a lot of people through agonizing decisions.

For many, keeping this on the down low is a practical, employment matter.  Not so, for me.  I run my own micro business and am my own boss and employee.  I do not disclose to contractors for fear of not having my proposals fully considered.

This professional decision is clear for me.  I have no struggles with it.

Where the struggle sets in is on the personal end.  I am a private person by nature, training, and personality.  I'm more interested in learning about others than sharing about myself.

So, what's the big deal?  Yesterday, a trusted friend asked me how my running was going.  I gave my standard answer of "slow and steady."  A true answer!  I run similar mileage and pace almost every week of the year.  I almost never miss a day of running and am very happy with the benefits I gain from each session.

Then, she asked the next question:  "Do you ever consider racing or working on getting faster?"  She's a coach (like me), so this is a natural question between us.  She knows I have an athletic past and that I am in shape.  My answer to her was so evasive and corny that I walked away feeling guilty - like I had lied to her.  Something about being content where I am... blah... blah ... blah...

I am not content where I am!  Every fiber in my being wants to race again!!  I love competition and would give anything to get out there and toe the line for something more than a fitness run!!  That's the truth!!

But, I said nothing like that in my answer.  I walked away feeling like a coward and a liar.  My answer was not genuine, complete or even truthful...  (Bow head)

So, my focus for this week is going to be on communication.  Not just the "how" piece, but more deeply on the "why" piece.  I want to re-visit the reasons why I am not being fully upfront about my situation and how it impacts me physically and emotionally.

And, dear friend, who I avoided answering yesterday:  I will try harder to be truthful.  We will talk.

Wish me luck.  It's hard to be broken!