While teaching a fitness class for Parkinson’s patients, I noticed some very uncoordinated foot movements. I started observing this tendency more closely and started doing some research. I found out that delayed nerve transitions through the pathway from the brain to the foot and back can be one reason for this.
According to research, properly timing an automatic activation of dynamic stabilizers are more important than strength for functional stability. Pain and fear of falling actually affects posture to the point that the muscles do not fire in proper order. Learning to activate The core, (transverse abdominals and multifidus) and keeping it strong, is vital for postural stabilization.
Another issue is proprioception. Proprioception is Another name of the sensory system, the communication system between eyes, ( ocular nerve) and muscles.
It’s a feedback loop that helps maintain balance during walking and standing. It tells you where you are in space and in what direction you are moving. Again this system can have some firing issues, and become delayed.
The stiffness that accompanies Parkinsons, can in a sense block this proprioceptive feedback system, thus impacting gait, coordination and balance significantly.
Mirrors can help to give visual feedback for movements. Repeating the cues verbally to yourself is another one. Breathing is also important, as holding your breath stiffens your body and tells your brain it is in danger, further stiffening and blocking the neuropathways for effective movement.
Simply working on gait, forward, backward walking, crossover and sidestepping are good exercises. Also arm movements- lifting The arms with palms facing in, facing out, up and down our great variations for improving the neurological connections of the brain and body!