Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maintain Mobility with Walking Poles

Post 32
I’ve written before that my hiking adventures with Martha are no fun anymore because I just can’t keep up.  Even when my medications are working and I am walking smoothly, I’m still slow.  I take as many steps as Martha, but they’re short, and I fall behind.
I pondered this dilemma (well, maybe not, but for the sake of the story) as I searched the basement for the glass inserts for storm doors.  What I discovered stacked in a dusty corner were cross country skis. Now, understand, I’ve cross country skied exactly one time in my life, and didn’t find much pleasure in it. That did not explain why four pairs of skis were stacked in the corner.  Then again, Martha does have a thing for yard sales.
I‘ve read that some Parkinson’s patients need a visual nudge to get moving.  It was not the skis that grabbed my attention, it was the poles.  I picked through the selection, evaluating them for heft and style.  All were too long for what I had in mind.  I wanted something that would put my elbows at about 90 degrees.  I was a man with a plan; and a pipe cutter. A quick trip to Maxwell’s hardware store for some rubber cane tips and I was ready to try my experiment.
I concentrated and threw the right pole out in front. My right leg followed automatically. Left pole out, left foot followed.  I crossed the yard and went out on the sidewalk. By this time I was humming that song by Queen “Another one Bites the Dust” which is the perfect sound track for a brisk walk. The walking poles really did help.  I was ready to call the New England Journal of Medicine.
Instead, I called Martha. “Come on” I said. “Let’s go take a walk.” She joined me enthusiastically. We went to a nearby trail and continued the experiment.  I tried right pole, right foot.  I tried left pole, right foot.  Both patterns worked.  My legs followed the visual cues of the walking poles. The further out I swung the poles, the longer my stride. My speed was normal.  I was keeping up and having fun.
I urge you to give it a try. Then get back to me with a comment. And don’t forget to sing.

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