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Post-polio is not a flare-up of the polio virus.  The symptoms are thought to be caused by overusing the surviving nerve cells that have been doing double-duty.  Post-polio syndrome can include a variety of symptoms including: generalized joint and muscle pain, severe fatigue following moderate activity, muscle weakness, and loss of muscle use.

Those managing post-polio should never overdo their activities.  Research indicates that exercising three times a week is best, starting out slowly and using three to six repetitions.  Use a set of muscles then take a break using different muscles, then back to the first set of muscles.  Since overuse of the shoulders is a common problem with this condition, a chair with an armrest provides assistance so shoulders don't have to support the weight of the arms.  To learn more about increasing energy, click here.


  1. Check with a post-polio clinic for analysis of muscle strength and exact guidelines specific to the results of the test.
  2. Only muscles that test Grade 4 or 5 should be considered for exercise.
  3. Five (5) repetitions at 50% - 70% of capacity.
  4. It's important to grieve the loss of things you can no longer do.
  5. Avoid anything that causes pain or fatigue that lasts 10 minutes or longer.
  6. Find the delicate balance between:
    • atrophy from disuse
    • destroying muscle units from overuse
  7. Simplify and make everyday tasks easier.
  8. Upper extremity overuse problems are common.  To decrease shoulder stress:
    • reduce reaching
    • support your arms
    • bring work up to you
  9. Take pressure off shoulders:
    • reduce reaching
    • bring your arm and hand closer to body
  10. Know your limits.
  11. Manage your time and energy to accommodate limitations.




Remember, those managing post-polio must use twice as much energy to activate muscle, so the muscle fatigues more easily.  All exercises are an overload for this condition.  But muscles can and should be exercised as long as they don't over-fatigue themselves.
The SIT AND BE FIT program provides an exercise format that incorporates gentle movements while also offering a gentle full body workout to maintain functional fitness. They should be ideal for those managing post-polio.
The most important thing is not to give up on exercise!


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