multiple sclerosis Information sessions

Information sessions with Dr Gretchen Hawley

Improving mobility with functional exercise

Monday 24 June 2024 at 4pm

We will be welcoming back Dr Gretchen for a live session to discuss what ‘functional exercise’ is and how to use this type of exercise to improve mobility and function.

Dr Gretchen Hawley will explain the difference between ‘regular’ and ‘functional’ exercise and how functional exercise can help improve function and mobility for people with MS.

Dr Hawley says “functional exercises are activity-based whereas ‘regular’ exercises are weakness based. The difference is that exercises that are weakness based will likely increase the strength of that muscle, but the renewed strength often does not result in improved function with daily activities and movements, like walking”.

Functional exercises break down a specific activity that is challenging and strengthens the body in a specific way that will make that activity easier. For example, if someone has hip weakness which is making it difficult to walk, a ‘regular’ exercise may be a ‘straight leg raise’. However, a functional exercise requires the breakdown of that movement.

Continuing with this example, walking requires knee bending, toe lifting, knee lifting, balance, and weight shifting. Therefore, these five movements should be the exercises that are performed to achieve improved walking.

Replacing ‘regular exercise’ with ‘functional exercise’ can make a world of a difference for those with multiple sclerosis. It’s often the difference between remaining at your current ability level and improving your mobility and energy!”.

Session overview

  • What is “regular” exercise
  • What is “functional” exercise
  • How to exercise to improve mobility
  • How to exercise most effectively (how many reps/sets, etc.)

The session will finish with time for question and answers from Dr Hawley.

We hope you can join us for this session. If you can’t make the session live, don’t worry as we will be recording the presentation and will make it available to watch again for all those registering in advance.

How to book

To join this session, please login or register in our Portal area. The session is free to join if you have a monthly or year subscription. You do not need a subscription to join, as you can register and provide a donation for the class. The suggested amount for the class is £5. If you unable to make a donation, please contact us to see how you can access the online classes via

Shortly after the class has finished, the recording will be made available and a blue button will be visible at the bottom of the screen for everyone who purchases a ticket either in advance of the live class are after it has been held.

If you would like to know more or you are having trouble registering, please contact us at

About Dr Hawley

A Doctor of Physical Therapy, with years of clinical practice experience, Gretchen is a Physical Therapist and Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist through the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centres based in the USA.

She has a special interest in the management and wellness of MS patients, and presents as the Keynote Speaker at numerous MS events including Living Well with MS events sponsored by the MS Society in addition to MS Views & News. Other collaborations include national MS organisations, including the National MS Society, MS Association of America, and MS Foundation. Additionally, Dr Gretchen shares her expertise to MS support groups, podcasts, and on her own YouTube and social media channels.

If you would like to know more about Dr Hawley please visit our website to see Dr Hawley’s previous blog or visit Dr Hawley’s website The MSing Link

Just a note to say how inspiring I found this presentation to be. Having had MS for approx 30 years. I must admit to feeling fairly sceptical that I would hear anything new. In fact, it wasn’t so much that this was all definitely new, but it was the way it was conveyed to people like me. I think it took away a continual feeling of failure and replaced it with a new mindset – Chris
A really excellent presentation. Incredibly informative and made so much sense
I thought yesterday’s presentation was fantastic. The Dr was inspiring and enlightened me to things I’ve being doing not quite right for years. I certainly took a lot away from it and thoroughly enjoyed listening – Pam
Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated Gretchen’s talk on neuroplasticity this week. I had rather given up on exercise as not really helping me (I am in my 70’s) but Gretchen’s advice has motivated me to try again and try better. So, I am resuming my exercises and paying more attention to carrying them out correctly. She was spot on about the need to change one’s mindset too. I do equate walking with fatigue and difficulty and should endeavour to get out of this negative thinking cycle