Yoga

The practice of yoga is known to help increase flexibility and balance, and yoga may have the same effects for people with Parkinson’s disease. A 2012 study found that yoga — particularly if it’s adapted for the needs of patients with a movement disorder like Parkinson’s disease — can increase mobility, balance, strength and flexibility. It may also help improve mood and help you sleep better.

Man receiving massage.

Massage Therapy

Though not very well-studied, the effectiveness of massage in relieving side effects of Parkinson’s disease, chiefly tremor, seems clear, even if that relief isn’t permanent. A 2016 review of studies showed a measurable reduction in muscle rigidity and resting tremor immediately after a 60-minute massage.

Weight training

Movement Therapies

Because Parkinson’s disease affects balance and leads to a gradual deterioration of motor skills, certain movement therapies may help counteract those effects. The Alexander Technique, for example — a discipline that emphasizes posture and balance — may help patients with Parkinson’s disease retain mobility.

Another therapy is the Feldenkrais Method, which aims to retrain the body to do difficult movements. Even if you don’t participate in “official” movement therapies, activities like dancing and strength training (lifting weights or using machines at a gym) can help alleviate some symptoms. Check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise program. 

Acupuncture needle inserted into a shoulder

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine, whose basic principle is that simulating points along the body’s meridians, or energy pathways, can alleviate pain, among other positive benefits. For that reason, it’s commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease in China and other countries.

Patients in the U.S. who try it often report that it helps alleviate such issues as fatigue and poor sleep. Some studies in animals have shown that acupuncture can be neuroprotective (slowing the degeneration of neurons that leads to Parkinson’s disease), though those studies haven’t been replicated in humans.

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