WHAT? “every inch of forward head posture can increased the weight on the spine by 10lbs?” Mom was right, stand up straight!
Stooped posture is commonly associated with long term Parkinson’s disease. Postural instability can cause patients to have a stooped posture in which the head is bowed and the shoulders are drooped. As the disease progresses, walking may be affected – slow or shuffling gait.
Maintaining and strengthening the body structure is an aspect of managing PD. This severe forward head carriage, increased curvature of the upper back an forward flexed arms. This posture is caused by many factors, including spinal rigidity, loss of normal subconscious posture control, poor balance, and a loss of normal proprioception (movement sensation of the joints).
The structure of the spine is the foundation of posture, and abnormal spine is associated with unhealthy postures. Abnormal posture causes and worsens disc decay, causes pain,contributes to spinal arthritis, and is associated with disability. Poor posture is associated with many health conditions such as limited range of motion, breathing difficulties, cardiovascular disease, headaches, poor balance, jaw pain, shoulder/arm pain, and numbness/tingling.
Specific to PD, the cervical spine (neck) and the thoracic spine (upper/middle back) are regions greatly stressed due to the development of “hyperkyphosis.” Hyperkyphosis is related to early morbidity and mortality. The hyper-kyphotic posture is not only physically stressful but it potentially shortens lifespan.
Posture is a subconscious state.
Do you know what works? Repetitive movements with medium to long holds that involve whole body movements, and challenge balance/stability. This, however, is more difficult for patients with PD because the areas of the brain that help control posture are simply deficient. Therefore, persons with PD must utilize concentration or “cognitive” activity to compensate for the lack of reflexive control. An analogy of this concept is driving a “standard” automobile instead of an “automatic.” The “automatic” car shifts gears on its own (reflexive) but in a “standard” the driver must know when to shift to make the car move efficiently (cognitive).
The best initial treatment involves management of your pain, physical therapy to recover lost range of movement, and adjustment of your meds to help mobility. Also, YOGA (of course!) … here is some details on Tadasana, or Mountain Pose to improve posture in PD.
Another tip from Parkinson’s Society Canada: Emphasize the anti-gravity muscle group! “These are the muscles that straighten you or make you taller.” Back extensors, knee straighteners, triceps – the muscles at the back of the elbow that straighten the arms, enabling you to reach up, to the side and behind the back, shoulder blade squeezes. “These work against the typical stooped posture in Parkinson’s.”
Open your heart and stand up tall! much love.
Some other references: How Do I Treat “Stooping” Caused By Parkinson’s?, Parkinson’s Post