The Benefits of Boxing For Parkinson’s
Although it may seem out of the ordinary to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) with boxing, it’s a trend that is quickly growing. Boxing is one of the world’s oldest sports, and it offers multi-plane physical and mental challenges for all people, including those with Parkinson’s. Continue reading to learn how an exercise program like boxing can help to improve balance, posture, speed, strength, hand-eye coordination, and overall quality of life in those living with the trials of PD.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
The Cleveland Clinic defines Parkinson’s as a progressive, chronic body movement disorder that affects as many as 10 million people worldwide. PD is a neurodegenerative condition marked by the deterioration of inner-brain cells responsible for dopamine production.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter partially responsible for movement regulation, emotional responses, and overall coordination.
Inefficient dopamine production can contribute to movement symptoms like tremors, stiff muscles, poor balance, lacking coordination, postural instability, slurred speech, disrupted sense of smell, insomnia, mood disorders, and bradykinesia (slow movement).
Conventional Parkinson’s Treatment
According to Mayo Clinic, conventional Parkinson’s disease treatment typically includes medications that help some patients better manage tremors, movement, and walking problems.
These prescription medications typically work to increase dopamine production or provide a chemical substitute for the neurotransmitter.
None of the traditional treatments for Parkinson’s have been proven consistently effective for all patients. Some medications work well, especially in the beginning phases, but often diminish in effect with time. Deep brain stimulation, radiosurgery, and guided ultrasound techniques, like medications, are effective for some patients but not others.
Please consult your neurologist or medical team to figure out the right course of treatment for you.
How Boxing Benefits People with Parkinson’s
Non-contact Parkinson’s boxing programs, like Rock Steady Boxing, provide education and student-specific training to help people with Parkinson’s improve their gross motor skills, balance confidence, and mental sharpness. The high-intensity exercise and endurance training performed in boxing also help Parkinson’s patients improve their crawling, hopping, jumping, and walking skills.
Bigger Range of Motion
Stiff, rigid muscles coupled with neurological inefficiencies are common in Parkinson’s Disease, and they work together to reduce the person’s range of motion. Boxing training classes use exercise elements to help reverse those adverse effects and enable the person to enjoy wide-ranging movement.
More Fluent Rhythm
There is no boxing without rhythm! Fluid rhythm is also something that many people with Parkinson’s lack. Boxing training helps people with PD to improve their pace through agility exercises and helps them feel better about living with increased ability and strength.
Parkinson’s patients typically experience poor balance and may lack coordination. An RSB boxing class can help loosen, stretch, and strengthen rigid muscles common in PD.
Core strength is vitally important for all human beings. If your core is weak, your entire body suffers. Parkinson’s boxing classes work in all areas of the body and significantly increase core strength.
Many people with Parkinson’s Disease remain idle for so long that they lose confidence in their ability to walk across a room successfully. In many cases, this can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, eventually decreasing flexibility. A regular boxing program increases flexibility and helps people with Parkinson’s disease regain the confidence they once had about common tasks like walking.
Poor posture can lead to chronic spinal misalignment and permanent spinal paralysis in some cases. Boxing drills encourage better posture while promoting intentional recognition of the body’s position. In the meantime, each student’s posture awareness improves, which often leads to better overall spinal alignment.
Many Parkinson’s patients suffer from an inability to walk with grace or fluency. Routine boxing classes help improve a person’s overall gait endurance to enhance their confidence and make them feel more capable of participating in everyday events, along with everyone else.
Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson’s Rehabilitation
By helping people with Parkinson’s to improve their vitality and overall health, boxing classes provide high-intensity physical exercise which can benefit them in all areas of their lives. And that’s why Scott Newman founded the nonprofit organization Rock Steady Boxing in 2006 after he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at age 40.
Scott Newman noticed dramatic improvements in his agility, balance, strength, and overall health after he began taking boxing lessons, and he wanted to share this powerful rehabilitation technique with others living with Parkinson’s.
Since then, Rock Steady Boxing has catapulted to huge success by offering Parkinson’s boxing classes to thousands of people across hundreds of international cities.