I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) in 2004 at the age of 53. At first my symptoms were very mild. However, since that time I have developed severe akinesia, (a loss of normal motor function, resulting in impaired muscle movement) in my left hand and arm. The major impact PD has had on my life is that it made me take early retirement at age 55. Basically I wanted to do some traveling with wife before I become completely disabled.
According to my doctors, exercise should not be considered as an alternative or adjunct to therapy, but rather should be included as a ‘must do’ component of PD therapy. Under “doctor’s orders” I began to explore many types of exercise including walking, weight lifting, yoga, and tai chi. All offered some benefit. Then I heard about Pilates through my yoga studio and that’s where I really noticed a change.
I think I have more energy overall due to Pilates and other exercise. Pilates has strengthened my weaker muscles, especially my core muscles in my abdomen and lower back, and has really made a positive change to my overall functional movement. One specific example is that I can once again stand up from a seated position on a sofa or chair without using my arms to push myself up.
I can recommend Pilates without reservation. I do not mean to say that every person will be able to perform every Pilates exercise. But thats the beauty of it - exercises can be modified so that people at all different fitness levels can experience success with a specific movement.
I strongly feel that with the help of a good instructor and a little bit of individual attention, you can find the best Pilates exercises or postures to help you specifically - whether it be trying to increase a level of function within your body or just improving your athletic ability.
Michael McConnell does Pilates at Mindful Movement Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Has Pilates changed your life? Are you an instructor with a great client success story? We’d love to hear from you.