As we approach the winter holidays, we all dream of going to the mountains to empty our minds, breathe the fresh air while contemplating the snow, and descend the ski slopes under the reflecting sun. Does all this sound like a dream - an unachievable dream when you have multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Well, here's the good news: In principle, there is nothing to prevent skiing when you have MS. Downhill or cross-country skiing: Both disciplines provide excellent cardiovascular training, not to mention the fact that a relaxed atmosphere and moments of sharing with family and friends have a positive impact on our well-being for all, you are in good health or have multiple sclerosis.
If winter sports are not incompatible with MS, you must choose your discipline. How do you know which winter sport is best for you? It depends mainly on your physical form - and psychological. Whether you prefer downhill skiing or cross-country skiing, the same rule applies: choose only tracks that do not require too much and whose difficulty does not exceed your strength. And most importantly, do not forget to listen to your body: pay attention to the signals it sends you and take regular breaks, without waiting to be exhausted.
If your MS causes you to be more sensitive to heat (Uhthoff's phenomenon), physical activity - and the heat it generates - can be a problem when you ski. That said, given the low temperatures in the mountains, the Uhthoff phenomenon is generally less heavy and easier to control during winter holidays.
If you want to ski downhill, you have to trust your body and especially your legs. In downhill skiing, the body is much more involved than in cross-country skiing. So ideally, you should practice a sport regularly and prepare yourself physically before going on a ski vacation: your body must be sufficiently trained to be able to face the demands / physical demands that a ski descent demands. In principle, this precaution is essential for everyone, not only for patients with MS. But it is clear that people with an illness or disability need to prepare even more carefully.
What to do in case of disability?
A person physically limited by multiple sclerosis might think that winter sports like skiing are not an option for them. But in fact, why not? With the right equipment, you can practice alpine skiing even if you suffer from a small - or even a large - handicap.
Here are different ski variants and their equipment:
1) Ski with stabilizer
They are recommended in cases of good physical shape associated with problems of balance: the stabilizers, a kind of English canes provided with skids for supports slipped on the snow, help to find the balance.
2) Skibob (also: Snowbike or Veloski)
This device looks like a pretty low bike whose wheels have been replaced by skis. With skibob, you can go down the runway. Small skis are also attached to your feet. A handlebar allows you to steer the Véloski to stay the course when going downhill.
3) Bi-Ski (also: Dualski, Sitting Ski)
If you are in a wheelchair, the bi-ski allows you to go down the track for two! The Bi-Ski consists of a kind of sled, fixed on two skis and on which you sit with your legs bent. Your partner is standing behind the Bi-Ski, on classic alpine skis. It is he who maneuver the Bi-Ski through a handlebar and can lead your downhill run to two. By transferring your weight from one side to the other, you can accompany changes of direction.
Although cross-country skiing is less demanding than downhill skiing, it requires physical effort. For patients with MS, good preparation and physical fitness are important for a cross-country skiing holiday.
Cross-country skiing is a good option for people with regular muscle weakness in their legs. Because these weaknesses can easily be offset by a greater use of arms and bust. In addition, cross-country skiing affects joints less than alpine skiing. The choice of the route must also be anticipated, with a length and a level adapted to its capacities. And in case of doubt, it is better to choose the most affordable, even if you want to mount the challenge the next day. The whole thing is to find courses that are fun, that is to say that mix both ease and challenge.Want to react, share your experience or ask a question? Appointment in our FORUMS Neurology, Sport, Handicap or A doctor answers you !
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