Stretching Counts – 7 Best Stretching Exercises for Parkinson’s Fighters

Stretching Exercises

While medication has been the most prescribed treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD), many neurologists argue that a regular exercise program is as important as medications for managing the progressive disorder. Though most of the PD fighters follow a regular exercise program, they often overlook the importance of stretching the important muscle group(s) before starting with a specific fitness routine.

Stretching exercises are a healthy habit for everyone but for people with PD, they are particularly useful to reduce stiffness, improve mobility, posture, gait and balance. Here is a selection of 7 stretches that you should follow if you are about to start your Parkinson’s exercise regimen.  

1. Hamstring Stretch

Flexible hamstrings assist Parkinson’s fighters to perform a variety of daily activities, including walking and returning to the standing position after bending over. One of the safe active stretches for the hamstring is seated hamstring stretch.

Steps to follow:

  1.    Sit on the floor with legs placed forward at 45 degrees angle.
  2.    Try to touch the toes, keeping the knee straight.  

2. Calf Stretch

Regular calf stretching helps in maintaining good circulation and promote mobility in Parkinson’s disease. Stretching calf muscles also prevents knee pain and improves flexibility in ankle joint.

Steps to follow:

  1.    Stand straight with your back supported on the wall.
  2.    Raise your heels up.

3. Chest Stretch

Chest stretches help in improving posture in Parkinson’s fighters by aligning the shoulder blades. Stretching the chest also plays an important role in relieving upper back pain.

Steps to follow:

  1.    Stand with your hands together, arms extended directly in front of you.
  2.    Keeping your arms straight, quickly move your arms back as far as possible.

4. Back stretch

Back Stretch should be done on a regular basis to maintain flexibility in your spinal muscles, ligaments and fascia. Stretching back not only removes morning stiffness but also improves range of motion, relieves back pain and reduces tension in trunk musculature.

Steps to follow:

  1.    Stand tall, keeping hands behind the back.
  2.    Bend your torso backward.

5. Rotational Stretch for Back

Rotational Back Stretch is great for improving posture and flexibility in Parkinson’s fighter’s trunk muscles. The good news is that this stretch can be done in standing, sitting or lying down position.

Steps to follow:

  1.   Stand tall, keeping hands behind the back.
  2.   Rotate your torso in either direction to feel a stretch in your paravertebral muscles.

6. Shoulder Stretch

Flexibility and strength around shoulder musculature are vital for most of the daily living activities. Shoulder stretch is important to maintain good mobility in otherwise rigid arms.

Steps to follow:

  1.    Lay down flat on your back
  2.    Raise your arms straight up and move them over the head.

7. Forearm stretch

Hand functioning is important for Parkinson’s fighter to perform activities of daily living (ADL). Forearm stretch increases the range of motion in wrist joint by relieving stress in forearm muscles.

Steps to follow (for stretching extensor muscles):

  1.    Lift your arm up and fingers pointing downwards.
  2.    Bend your wrist inwards to feel a stretch in extensor compartment.

Steps to follow (for stretching flexor muscles):

  1.    Bend the wrist upwards and backward
  2.    Point your wrist towards the ceiling to feel a stretch.

A Word of Precaution: It is important to consult your physical therapist before starting any new stretching exercise, particularly when you suffer from Osteoporosis too.

Don’t overstretch your weak muscles and force joint beyond its normal range of motion. It can lead to instability. Avoiding aggressive stretching; progressing gradually is wise for the simple reason.

Breathing also plays an important part in stretching. Do not hold your breath during a stretch. It can alter your blood pressure.

This Blog is contributed by Dr. Rimpy kanwar. She has more than 8 years of working experience in the field of Physical Therapy. Her expertise lies in ortho-neuro and Pulmonary rehabilitation cases. 

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