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Poor balance and coordination also known as postural instability can become a frustrating component for those with Parkinson's. Balance is associated with equilibrium. If you can no longer control your body's center of mass over its support base, you may become unsteady when you are no longer in an upright condition.

When we can no longer maintain an upright posture, we tend to feel unstable while standing upright. Parkinson's impacts the brain by causing delays in a person's reaction time, speed of movements, and overall posture which all increase the risk of falling.

During diagnosis of Parkinson's, many physicians may test for postural stability by using a "pull test" to see how well you react to losing your balance. Usually, a person without postural instability takes a quick backward step to prevent themselves from falling. However, a person with Parkinson's is often unable to recover and falls backward if the physician or another person isn't there to catch them.

The good news is that with practice and commitment, postural instability can be improved with exercises that focus on balance, strength, agility, and flexibility that improve balance and coordination.

Exercise Tips to Improve Balance and Coordination

  • High intensity; challenging and cognitively engaging; repetitious, progressive, meaningful, and enjoyable exercises.

  • Activities that incorporate balance elements, including yoga, tai chi, Pilates, boxing, and dance - all of these activities include balance control exercises that can be incorporated into daily life.

  • Strength exercises challenge muscles to remain strong. Use muscles repeatedly in a specific and controlled way. This is especially important for trunk muscles to help you remain upright.

  • Lifting weights and using machines at the gym can be effective, but you can also do strength training at home using everyday household items such as milk jugs filled with sand, soup cans, or broomsticks.

  • Agility, or the ability to move quickly and easily can be improved with agility exercises. Physical therapists can help you condition lower body and muscle memory exercises that work together to improve overall reaction and speed.

  • Stretching increases overall flexibility to help with maintaining a good range of motion and movement for muscles and joints. As you lose flexibility, you also lose mobility and range of motion.

Additional Strategies that Can Help with Poor Balance and Instability:

  • Assess and improve your posture by standing against a wall, ensuring that your lower back and shoulder blades touch the wall. Do this a few times a day to keep your posture in check.

  • When you're standing, plant your feet shoulder-length apart instead of close together to create a more stable base for your body.

  • Use a "fanny pack" or belt to carry things so that your hands are kept free and unrestricted. With both hands free, making a conscious effort to swing both arms can help you maintain balance.

  • If you have difficulty changing directions or with quick movements, try making a wide turn that looks like the letter "U" instead of a quick turn and potentially risky pivot that looks like the letter "V."


Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's. Every Victory Counts, Your Go-To-Resource of Essential Information and Inspiration for Living Well with Parkinson's. Pages 46. "Manual." Sixth Edition, 2021.​

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