Q I have Parkinson’s Disease and I find it very hard to walk, but I find I move a lot more easily when running. Are there any tips on running with Parkinson’s disease?
A One of the difficulties of Parkinson’s disease is that the size of your steps become smaller, making walking (and running) slower. Music can help with automatic movements such as walking and may also be useful with running. It helps you keep an efficient rhythm to move your feet to if you try to time your steps to the beat of the music. Also as you run, try to associate the beat with a big step, by saying to yourself “big step” in time to the beat. With practise this will become more of a habit. Vary the style of music for relaxed running, running at increased pace and on hills, while focusing your attention on the length of your steps to maintain performance. Other strategies such as rehearsing movements in your mind beforehand and making deliberate and exaggerated movements are also helpful. You should see a podiatrist for some advice on orthotics and running shoes. This may help with the stability of your feet and balance.
Include a programme of stretching exercises and think about your posture while you run. At www.rescueproject.org, you can download useful self-management advice for a variety of problems.
—Dr Lynn Rochester, Clinical Specialist in Neurological Rehabilitation, Northumbria University