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How much do you know about Parkinson’s?  

Updated: Apr 11

Up until recently I knew very little about this neurological condition. It was my own mum’s diagnosis in 2022 that changed that; and having found out more about Parkinson’s, it quickly became apparent that using my soft tissue therapy skills could help to manage her symptoms.

Encouraged by the positive effects that the combination of massage therapy, stretching, movement & exercise has had on my mum, I have undertaken further study into physical activity for people with Parkinson’s & work closely with a Neuro-Physiotherapist to help other clients with this condition.

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.

Most people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are over 50 years of age and currently in the UK, over 145,000 people are living with the condition – equating to 1 in 37 of us. This is expected to increase by up to 20% by 2030 to 172,000.

The three main motor symptoms at diagnosis are

1.      rigidity and stiffness of the muscles

2.      a tremor

3.      slowness of movement.

It is a progressive condition and can affect walking, balance, co-ordination and speech. There are more than 40 symptoms that can be associated with Parkinson’s and everyone’s journey, experience and progression will be different.

The cause of Parkinson’s is largely unknown but it occurs when nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine die. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that allows us to perform movement & by the time symptoms become apparent, more than 50% of the dopamine producing nerve cells will have been lost.

Currently there is no cure for Parkinson's.

Symptoms can be managed in the early stages with medication. Soft tissue treatment that includes massage, stretching, movement & exercise can also help by decreasing pain, addressing postural changes, improving mobility and increasing strength. Of most significance in managing and slowing the condition is physical activity.

Research has shown that regular, moderate to high intensity physical activity can help relieve some of the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, as well as improving overall mental and physical wellbeing.

High intensity exercise, the type that raises your heart rate, gets you out of puff and makes you sweat, has been shown to have a positive impact on the health of the brain and neurons & may have neuroprotective effects for people with Parkinson’s, meaning it can relieve some of the symptoms & slow down progression of the condition.

Exercise is also important to maintain strength, flexibility, balance & mobility, improve motor function & it has important psychological benefits.

Current guidelines suggest people with Parkinson's should be aiming for:

  • 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity activity, five times a week.

  • Co-ordination & balance 30 minutes or more 2x week

  • Strength 2-3x week

  • Flexibility 10-20 minutes daily

Physical Activity for Parkinson's

If you’re concerned about symptoms you’ve been experiencing, you should visit your GP, but if you or someone you know has Parkinson’s & feel you may benefit from a soft tissue therapy session, which includes treatment and advice on exercise & individual goal setting, please get in touch. Ongoing appointments can incorporate both treatment and exercise on a 121 basis.

For more advice & information:

World Parkinson’s Day on April 11th is an annual opportunity to raise awareness and funds, to support people living with the condition, to improve quality of life and to ensure that people live better for longer. 


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