Martial arts training by Danielle Teixiera teaches balance, coordination and combinations to those with Parkinson’s such as Dave Butcher.
Kickboxing champion and instructor Danielle Teixiera has used her experience to tweak the NZ Counterpunch Parkinson’s programme that she offers in Warkworth and Silverdale.
Counterpunch began around 18 months ago, when Lisa Roach developed a specialised, non-contact boxing programme for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Although the head trauma that is part and parcel of boxing has been linked with increasing the risk of Parkinson’s, a strictly non-contact version that includes punching has been found to have positive effects on sufferers.
Towards the end of last year, Danielle underwent training so that she could offer the Counterpunch course locally, but says boxing was something new.
“I talked with Lisa about coming at it from a kickboxing perspective and she agreed it could only enhance what is offered,” Danielle says. “People always think of the shakes with Parkinson’s, but it’s also about frozen movement, lack of coordination and falling.”
She says kickboxing brings in more balance exercises, which are helpful because lifting one foot, precise foot placement and kicking can be very difficult for people with Parkinson’s. Introducing these elements has improved participants’ strength, coordination and balance, she says.
The programme also includes hitting and kicking bags and pads.
Mary Anne Rawnsley of Stillwater and Lloyd Jenkins of Orewa have been attending the classes in Silverdale since they started late last year.
Mary lived on a lifestyle block, raising calves, and was used to an active lifestyle. She says that Counterpunch has helped with the physical restraints of early stage Parkinson’s, freeing up her movement and improving her strength and balance.
Lloyd first noticed symptoms of Parkinson’s 10 years ago, and was diagnosed in 2010. He bought himself a pair of boxing gloves while attending a Parkinson’s conference in Montreal in 2013, but didn’t pull them out of the box until he started Counterpunch classes last year.
“It’s a hard workout, harder than physio and tai chi,” he says. “It is good for cross body coordination too. I get back pain and thought boxing would be the last thing I should do, but actually the stretching and strengthening has helped my back.”
Danielle says anyone who has Parkinson’s is welcome to attend the classes and partners/caregivers can take part free of charge.
Counterpunch classes are held in Silverdale and Warkworth twice a week.