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Episode 227: Challenging Your Rhythm for Athletes and Parkinson’s

Video Highlights

- The value of “Rhythmic Adaptability”
- Training movement quality at any speed.
- New research for Parkinson’s

Today, we’re doing a little public service announcement on rhythm, movement, and Parkinson’s disease.

As part of the Z-Health system, one of the things that we look when we’re training athletes or we’re taking people through rehab is what we call rhythmic adaptability.

Rhythm plays an enormous role in human function. Most people can think about, have a watched a show, ER, and we see the heart rhythms as the machine goes… beep, beep…What we don’t want is a straight line.

We know neurons, stuff in the brain function along rhythmic stimulation and rhythmic inhibition, so rhythm really is a basic part of human existence.

Now, how this plays a role for a lot of us and what we need to be able to do is we need to develop rhythmic adaptability. In a very simple way, what that means is if you’re an athlete or someone who’s just interested in health, you want to be able to move at different tempos, move at different speeds without it causing degradation in your movement.

If you are someone that loves dance and you love music and you love rhythm, you’re probably very adaptable to outside rhythm sources; however, when we test other people, what we figure out is when we use metronomes with them they kind of freak out.

One of the things I’m going to encourage you to do is periodically in your training; whether you’re doing joint mobility work or lifting or you’re hitting a bag, try to challenge yourself both with internal rhythms and external rhythms.

Grab your phone, pick a tempo for a song, try to move to the beat of that song or more easily, just use a metronome from your phone.

Like I said, play with different rhythms, see where you’re most comfortable and then over time go below that and above that.

I know that doesn’t sound like that big a deal. Why would I do that? It’s good for your brain that’s why.

Another reason that we actually want to talk about this today however, is that there is a really significantly growing body of research that shows that if you have family members, relatives or friends that are struggling with Parkinson’s disease, one of the things that’s very classic with that disease as it progresses is what is called freezing or gait disturbances.

They have a hard time walking. What has been shown in many studies is that using rhythm … They call it RAS, rhythmic auditory stimulation … in people with Parkinson’s often improve their ability to walk.

Now, there’s a couple of caveats to that. One of the things that they’re also finding is that lower tones like deep bass tones tend to work better and it’s great to have a device or someone working with them that can adapt the rhythm as they move.

A line of people playing drums with their hands.

If you have never heard of this and like I said, you have friends, family members, et cetera, that are struggling with this, it would be really good to connect with someone in the neural field around Parkinson’s rehabilitation because we’ve seen it be super effective in helping people get over some of the said constant challenges of movement that accompany that disease.

I just wanted to make you aware of that and I also wanted you to think about as a athlete or someone that is concerned about general fitness, general health, make sure periodically you are moving to rhythm and also change that rhythm because you want to make sure that you are adaptable going forward.

If you’re not sure how to start with this let’s just be really clear.

Let’s say you don’t have a regular joint mobility routine or you don’t hit a bag regularly or any of that stuff.

How do you get started using rhythm as a part of your training?

Let’s assume you do something called walking. Easy thing to do. Grab your phone, pick a beat per minute that kind of matches your most comfortable walking pace. Put in earphones, take a walk.

Five minutes later, increase the pace. Maybe five beats per minute to ten beats per minute, walk with that.

Five minutes after that, drop it down five or ten beats per minute and walk with that.

Again, nothing super complicated here. We’re just trying to give you a different brain stimulus because of where this information is integrated, a lot of times people identify that walking a little faster or a little slower than your typical rhythm actually improves how you feel.

That would be an easy way to get started if you’re not sure.

Hopefully that makes sense and like I said, you can take that same idea and apply it in a lot of other venues.

So, good luck.

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