Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system which gradually impinges on the patient’s ability to control their movements. Being relatively rare, fortunately, this disorder usually affects people between the ages of 50 and 65, and it can be partially sorted out with the help of stretching exercises.
The most common Parkinson’s disease cause is the progressive loss of a substance called dopamine, which is neurotransmitter (by and large, a kind of messenger) that connects two brain areas – the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum – in order to enable a person make smooth and controlled movements; hence, the lack of this substance is to blame for the faulty communication between those two brain areas and the subsequent impaired sufferer’s movements.
Other reasons include:
- Cell damage caused by genetic and pathological reasons (i.e. inflammation)
- Exposure to pesticides
- A previous head injury
A broad list of Parkinson’s disease symptoms can provide the warning sign that something is going wrong. These may include:
- Shaking and tremors
- Muscle stiffness and rigidity in various body parts
- Gradual slowing in performing basic movements and routine activities (for example, sitting on and getting up from a chair)
- Tardiness in walking and gait
- Postural instability and difficultly in maintaining balance
- Difficultly in thinking, which can even lead to dementia, in most severe cases
- Slurred speech (also in most severe cases)
Parkinson’s Disease Stretching Exercises
Here is a selection of some functional Parkinson’s disease stretches – notice that you should follow our general stretching guide when performing the Parkinson Exercises described below – :
- A simple dynamic stretch is actually… walking with your toes up! So, find a spacious room, or an outdoors flat surface, and walk slowly with your heel being the first part of your sole that touches the ground, and then roll to your toes; throughout the process, remember to have your legs at a slightly bigger distance compared to normal walking (so as to gain extra balance); try to walk that way for about 10-15 minutes.
- A useful chest stretch (photo 1) can also help to alleviate the symptoms of the disorder; so, stand erect or sit on a chair with your back and torso straight, buckling your hands behind your head; then, push your elbows back, opening your chest, while also pressing the back of your head with your hands; hold for some seconds and then bring your elbows forward, closing them as much as you can, but without leaning forward with your head or curbing your back; perform that either in a dynamic form (10-15 repetitions, 3 sets) or in a static type (holding for 15-20 seconds, for 3-5 times).
- Seated Torso Stretch, an active/static stretch for the upper back which is also beneficial to relieve Parkinson’s Symptoms, is this: sit on a chair (that is necessary in order to keep your lower part of the body immobile) and grab each elbow with the opposite palm; now move up your arms to chest height and twist your torso, waist, head and shoulders to the left, stretching as far as possible; hold for 20-30 seconds, come back to the initial position and repeat, this time twisting to the left; do that for 5-8 times for each side.
- A simple and effective dynamic stretch for your back, which can be of supreme benefit for the Parkinson condition; lie down on your stomach with your hands and legs totally extended; now, lift your left leg to the highest achievable point, hold it there for just a second and then return to neutral position; the moment it touches the floor, lift the right leg and do the same; continue until you have completed 10 repetitions for each leg, and then carry out 2 more sets of those stretches (photo 2).
- Another nice active/static stretch for the back muscles (photo 3) ; assume a seated position on the floor with your upper part of the body erect and your arms by your sides and your palms in contact with the floor; now, slowly lean forward while at the same time moving your arms forward (without letting them lose their contact with the ground) until they become completely straightened in front of your head and your back muscles get totally extended too; so, once you feel that stretch in the back, hold it for 20-30 seconds; then, come gently back to the initial position and repeat.
- Also, try the seated hamstring stretch (photo 4) and the knee-to-chest stretch (photo 5) which are described in detail here and here!
In general, you should have in mind that, since stiffness is a major enemy which can potentially result in Parkinson’s disease, it is vital to keep as many of your body areas stimulated as possible; for instance, try using your hands, palms and fingers for daily tasks, squeezing a small ball in your palm, marching in place with your knees high and many more!
Watch the photos below for a better understanding of the stretches described above! It’s crucial to perform the exercises as accurately as possible in order to grab the usual Stretching Benefits
Photos & Videos
The pics and the video below make it easier for our visitors to find how each stretche described above can be executed! So have a careful look on them:
Other Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Options
Apart from the above described stretches, additional Parkinson’s disease treatments may include:
- Medications, which aim at supplementing or substituting dopamine, the neurotransmitter which, as mentioned previously, Parkinson’s disease sufferers have deficiency in
- Supportive therapies, which are designed for making the sufferer’s routine easier help you cope with everyday life
- Strengthening exercises with weights
- Surgery, as the last resort
Parkinson’s disease is a tricky situation which cannot be totally cured, however a proper stretching program can alleviate the symptoms and improve the patient’s condition. Whatever the case, medical advice is imperative so as to correctly diagnose the disorder and treat it the best possible way!
Category: Stretches and Diseases