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Pilates for Parkinson’s Disease

8th February, 2018

Pilates for parkinsons

It’s been over 200 years since James Parkinson wrote ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’, which is considered the first medical documentation of a condition affecting the brain that we now call Parkinson’s Disease.

For most people the cause is unknown (idiopathic Parkinson’s) but it often affects one side of the body first and it’s more common in men than women.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

There are four main symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease including:

  1. Bradykinisia – which means slowness in movement
  2. Rigid muscles
  3. Poor posture and balance
  4. Resting tremor (uncontrolled muscle movement) – this is usually in one arm but not everyone will have this symptoms. In fact up to 30% of people with Parkinson’s will not have a tremor

How is Parkinson’s Disease treated?

Medication and targeted exercise programmes are the mainstays of treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

Here our some of our favourite exercises to improve posture, balance and strength:

Leg lifts with or without supportStrengthening exercises for the buttocks

Squeeze your buttock muscles and lift one leg out behind you, keeping your knee straight and your body upright. Repeat 10 times each side.

Outer hip strengthening exerciseBalance on one leg and lift your other leg out to the side, keeping your leg straight. Repeat 10 times each side

Balance work with or without support
Balance exercises

Hold on for support if you need to and rock your weight forwards into the balls of your feet and backwards towards your heels. To make it slightly harder you can go up onto tip toes at the front of the movement and lift your toes at the back. Repeat 15 times.

Upper back strengtheningUpper back exercise

Lie on your front with your hands by the side of your head and elbows bent. Draw your shoulder blades down your back and follow the movement with your upper body and head, so that your forehead hovers just up off the floor. Try not to push with your arms or hands to work your upper back muscles. Repeat 15 times.

Shoulder stretch with a resistance bandShoulder strengthening exercise

Hold an elastic resistance band between both hands. Slide your shoulder blades down your back as you raise your hands overhead. Breathe in to prepare. Breathe our to bend your elbows and pull on the band. Breathe in to raise your hands again. Repeat 10 times.

With Parkinson’s, the best outcomes are achieved by those who start exercising early on, when they are first diagnosed.  It’s also well known that the symptoms of Parkinson’s are very individual, so no two people are alike. An experienced physiotherapist will be able to identify the main issues and prescribe a tailored exercise programme specific to stage of your condition and your symptoms.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!

The Pilatesfit Teamm.