Sport Climbing Tied to Improved Posture in Parkinson’s Disease

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Sport climbing helps improve posture in patients who: Parkinson’s disease (PD), including older patients, new research suggests.

In a randomized controlled study, a group that participated in wall scaling using ropes and fixation anchors slouched less over 12 weeks than a control group that participated in some form of unsupervised physical activity.



Dr. Heidemarie Zack

The results highlight that it’s never too late to learn a new sport or type of movement, and that interventions of this type can have significant health benefits. Medscape medical news.

“There is no hurdle too high to overcome, no burden to overcome,” Zak said. “If you can climb stairs independently, you can climb.”

of Survey results announced At the International Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) 2022 held virtually in Madrid, Spain.

Common point of PD

Analytics are part of a larger project that includes: published research Last year, patients who participated in sport climbing were shown to have an approximately 13-point reduction in the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale Part III (UPDRS-III) score. This activity was also significantly associated with improvements in bradykinesia, stiffness, and tremor.

The current analysis focuses on hunched posture, a common feature of PD, in addition to motor symptoms. This postural deformity can cause significant discomfort, pain, and reduced quality of life.

Researchers point out that pharmaceutical treatments have little effect on postural deformities. Although physical therapy may help improve symptoms, only a few randomized studies have examined the use of physical therapy in general, and alternative sports in particular, to improve posture in PD.

Sport climbing is “really unique” for Parkinson’s disease, Zach said. A climber herself, she recommended it to one of her patients. A 79 year old male on his PD, he is a walker and hiker who eventually came to love the sport. She called him a “pilot patient.”



“The hurdles that are insurmountable and not burdensome are not too high.”
It cannot be conquered,” said researcher Dr. Heidemarie Zakk.

The single-center study included 48 adult participants aged up to 78 years with mild to moderate PD (mean age approximately 65 years). Most were Stage 2 of his Hoehn & Yahr and some were Stage 3. All had no climbing experience. Exclusion criteria included non-PD status.

Researchers randomly assigned participants to a sport climbing course or a control group.

The sport climbing group performed 90-minute climbing sessions every week for 12 weeks in an indoor gym. Under the supervision of an instructor, we put our mats on the ground for safety and put on harnesses and connected them to ropes.

The climbing wall was about 15 meters (50 feet) high. Participants typically started at 2 meters or he 3 meters (6.5 to 9.5 feet) and worked their way up, says Zach.

People in the control group were asked to participate in unsupervised physical activity for 12 weeks as recommended by the World Health Organization and the European Physiotherapy Guidelines for Parkinson’s Disease.This included at least 2 hours each week. It included half-moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.

full body workout

According to Zak, the primary outcome was improved posture, measured using a “simple” but reliable tool. The distance between the C7 sagittal vertical axis (C7SVA) and the wall was measured in centimeters.

Mean C7SVA at baseline was not significantly different between the two groups and was 8.2 cm in the climbing group versus 7.7 cm in the control group.

However, results showed that only sport climbing was associated with a significant reduction in cervical spine forward flexion

C7SVA decreased by 1.7 cm (95% CI, 0.8–2.6 cm) in the climbing group. “So the climber was more upright and less slouched after his 12 weeks,” Zak said.

She noted that the mean difference in the control group was 0.5 cm (95% CI, -0.2 to 1.3 cm), “almost nothing”.

Zach noted that there appeared to be no predictors of which patient subgroups would benefit most from the intervention, such as age, gender, or body mass index.

In explaining why climbing improves posture, she said it’s like a “full-body workout.”

This activity builds upper body strength by using the muscles of the back and shoulder girdle, as well as increasing joint flexibility. Climbing movements, such as reaching for long holds repeatedly, stretch the hip flexors and hip muscles.

Climbing actions may also promote an upright posture, as these movements reduce stiffness. And because wall climbing involves planning and executing movements, it trains body-spatial awareness, a key component of maintaining and correcting posture, she said.

Zach noted that motivating group dynamics likely also contributed to the success of the intervention. “They were rooting for each other at the bottom of the climbing wall,” she said.

The results, she said, show that climbing can improve PD in addition to improving posture, including improvements in motor symptoms, stiffness, and tremors. The next step in the research agenda is to show whether the intervention has a positive impact on gait, added Zack.

“Quite adventurous”

comments on the research of Medscape Medical NewsRebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer of the American Parkinson’s Association, said she welcomes “new ideas” to help people with PD, and sport climbing sounds “pretty adventurous.”

“The general concept of asking people to move their bodies in novel ways is good for everyone, especially for people with PD,” said Gilbert, who was not involved in the study. increase.

She pointed out that the ideal exercise intervention in Parkinson’s disease involves a combination of four modalities: stretching, balance, aerobic exercise, and strengthening. Rope climbing includes many of these things in addition to the cognitive component, Gilbert said. It’s also important that people with PD participate in activities they enjoy, she added.

However, she stressed that safety needs to be “balanced”, especially for stage 3 PD patients who often have balance problems.

“If you have balance problems, climbing the rope can be difficult,” Gilbert said. is more reasonable for patients with

Zach and Gilbert have not reported any related financial relationships.

International Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) 2022. Abstract 739Announced September 16, 2022.

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