Thread the Needle Pose Modifications
May 16, 2011
Yoga for Parkinson’s: The Optimistic Warrior
June 4, 2011

Step Back

Whether jogging or practicing yoga, activities that ramp up the heart rate, strengthen, stretch and get us moving hold numerous benefits. Studies support that exercise can increase stamina, enhance balance, lessen symptom severity in chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s, help with sleep issues and so much more.

But what are we supposed to do when when the meds don’t kick in at the same time we’re kicking up our sneakers?

At the gym last week, I faced this very situation. Headphones on, I tuned in to my quick-beat play list and pressed Quick Start on the elliptical machine. Within minutes, my meds waned and the recent dose hadn’t seeped into my gray matter yet. My legs slowed. I listened as the drumbeat sped on without me.

The options were to wait it out on a bench or in continue at half-speed. The day’s schedule had no extra time in it. So was the slo-mo: the 30-minute machine policy might have proved a challenge. I decided that the bench was out, too. I wanted my full-sweat workout.

My solution? Based on a study of one (me), this highly rated, “brilliant” approach (based on one reviewer: me) showed 100% positive results for all who participated (me):

I went backwards.

Typically, I don’t run, jog or cycle backwards. It seems so, well, backward. And unnatural feeling.  But that’s the point. I recall a PT telling me that walking backwards can help with the dystonia in my leg. (Don’t try this at home without a spotter, on a treadmill or elsewhere.)

Apparently the brain gets tricked by the new pattern of movement and it can’t rely on the old patterns. It’s those old patterns that have lost the circuitry – from nerve damage or lack of neurotransmitters. Moving in a way that isn’t ‘automatic’ engages some otherwise underused part of the cells up there and the brain needs to stay on alert.

Replacing my headphones, I opted for a medium-paced set of songs. Before long, the meds waxed and I shifted to faster music and strode ahead again, happily sweating. And smiling to myself. Cliché as it sounds, it took a step back to be able to step forward.

1 Comment

  1. love this. “Cliché as it sounds, it took a step back to be able to step forward” This is a wonderful lesson for everyone :). Thanks Renee!

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