Parkinson's Pole Series - Part V: Balance Drills

6 Drills to Re-gain Confidence with Balance and Coordination

 

"Sometimes it's Not the lack of ability but the lack of confidence that prevents us from achieving what we really want. Sometimes it's Doable, but self-doubt makes it impossible."

We all struggle with a lack of confidence at some point, in one way or another. 

Confidence in our ability to be successful personally or professionally... take care of our loved ones... be a great boss, co-worker or employee...  provide for our families...  and on and on. 

When you're fighting Parkinson's, a lack of confidence likely spills over into your physical abilities as well. Most notably in the area of balance. 

Is This You?

Do any of those sound like something you've once said? 

  • "I typically avoid going into the grocery store because I don't want to slow my husband/wife down. I freeze a lot or simply walk too slow, so I just don't go anymore."
  • "I always make sure I walk close to the walls or something sturdy so I have something to hold onto if I need it."
  • "I dread going out to restaurants because it's crowded and dark and I'm terrified to trip and fall."
  • "I stopped golfing / hiking / dancing because my balance got too bad. I figure it's just time for me to give it up."

When I hear my clients say these things it breaks my heart. Why? Because often they've been sold that this is the "normal progression of things" and have decided that Parkinson's will be the victor. 

Sound familiar?

Welp - today we flip the rhetoric!  

Exercise is KEY

Here's the deal. Exercise is a POWERFUL component of beating back Parkinson's and re-gaining the feeling of confidence and balance in your world. 

Don't believe me? Take a look at this awesome before and after video of one of my clients after ONE session of targeted exercises: 

His goal? Return to dancing.

And he did. Why? Because he reminded his body how to move (confidently and safely) through exercise.

The 6 balance drills I've created for you below are designed to help you start to reclaim your confidence so you can get back to doing those things you love, despite your diagnosis.

Shall we get to it? 


Quick disclaimer: If you're just starting out or have any issues with balance, stamina, or shuffling, please don't jump into these exercises alone. Make sure you have supervision. They can also help cue you on your form, posture, and give you encouragement. These exercises aren't meant to be a substitution for 1-on-1 guidance so if you are really unsteady, please seek out guidance from a physical therapist.


Video #1: Tightrope Tandem

Starting Position: Stand up tall holding onto one or both poles. Place one foot in front of the other, heel-to-toe, as if you're standing on a tightrope.

Hold for 30-60 seconds.  Switch legs and Repeat.

Add a Challenge: Decrease the number of poles you have touching the floor. Pick them up and use them like a tightrope walker to keep your balance.


Video #2: Basic Single Leg Stance (with Kickstand)

Starting Position: Stand up tall holding onto one or both poles. Shift your weight into one leg and pull the opposite leg around behind you so just your toe is touching the floor. This is "kickstand" position.

Hold for 30-60 seconds.  Switch legs and Repeat. 

Add a Challenge: Decrease the number of poles you have touching the floor. Pick them up and use them like a tightrope walker to keep your balance. Feeling brave? Lift your "kickstand" leg up off the floor so you're standing on one leg. 

Tah-dah! You're officially in "Single Leg Stance"


Video #3: Simple Arm Lift & Lower

Starting Position: Stand up tall holding onto one pole in "kickstand" position (See Video #2). Hold one pole across your waist like a tightrope walker stick, and slowly lift it overhead. Return it down to your waist.

Repeat for 20 repetitions or 30-60 seconds.  Switch legs and Repeat. 

Add a Challenge: Lift your "kickstand" leg up off the floor so you're standing on one leg. 


Video #4: Overhead Hold

Starting Position: Stand up tall holding onto one pole in "kickstand" position (See Video #2). Hold one pole across your waist like a tightrope walker stick, and slowly lift it overhead. Hold it above your head.

Hold for 30-60 seconds.  Switch legs and Repeat. 

Add a Challenge: Lift your "kickstand" leg up off the floor so you're standing on one leg. 


Video #5: Torso Twist

Starting Position: Stand up tall holding onto one pole in "kickstand" position (See Video #2). Hold one pole across your waist like a tightrope walker stick. Slowly rotate your whole body towards your standing leg, keeping your foot firmly planted. Return to the center. 

Repeat 20 times.  Switch legs and Repeat. 

Add a Challenge: Lift your "kickstand" leg up off the floor so you're standing on one leg. Extend your arms out in front of you for an added balance challenge.


BONUS Video #6: Target Practice

Starting Position: Stand up tall in the "kickstand" position (See Video #2). Hold your pole in the arm on the same side as your "kickstand" leg, about 2-3 feet from a collection of small targets on the floor. These can be: coins, post-it notes, match boxes, dominoes, checkers pieces, etc.

Reach out with the pole to touch a target and then return to standing.  Repeat 20 times or Aim for 30-60 seconds per leg.  Switch legs and Repeat. 

Add a Challenge: Lift your "kickstand" leg up off the floor so you're standing on one leg. Don't touch the floor with your supporting leg. Stand farther away from your targets so you really have to reach. Add a mental challenge by counting, naming, or identifying your targets in some way. 

NOTE: This is an advanced move! Take it slow and don't do this without supervision.


To see the entire YouTube Playlist of Pole Exercises, follow this link:

Invigorate PT & Wellness YouTube Playlist - Pole Exercise Series


If you've stumbled upon this post and want a little guidance on why I love using these easy-to-make poles for my Parkinson's clientele, head back to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series. 

Click here for Part 1 - An $11.36 Parkinson's Solution with 30+ Uses

Click here for Part 2 - 5 Basic Exercises to Build the Foundation of Strength and Balance

Click here for Part 3 - Walking Drills for Parkinson's

Click here for Part 4 - 5 Exercises for a Healthy, Happy Spine (and better Posture!)