Walking vs Running

With the wealth of knowledge and experience here, maybe you can help? The question I forget to ask every time I have an appointment is ..... why can I still run?

I can only walk very slowly, and my left arm doesn't swing and my left foot stamps - so why can I run with absolutely no problems with speed or movement?

It freaks me out completely! I go into an appointment with it written down to remind me, the Doctor then tells me something really scary, I go home and find the note in my handbag/pocket etc AGAIN

Kind regards Sarah

well sarah ive not got a clue,sorry not much help,but i use to run marathons before pd kicked in and now i really wish i could now.so i say go for it ,good lucks to you x:smile:

all I know is Sarah that once I get going I seem to find it easier to trot than to maintain a steady pace. Changing direction ans stopping require effort. Also to go upstairs I find it easier to "bounce" than to ascend in a ladylike fashion. Like you my left arm doesn't swing. I try to remind it to and this seems to aid walking but then I forget and confusion and freezing result. re forgetting to mention things to Dr - could you write out your Q's and pysically hand the piece of paper to him/her?

I think its quite common for running to be easier than walking as is bicycling.
There's a video which shows a man (demonstrating to his skeptical neurologist) cycling well when he can hardly walk. I've also seen a video where a man is running and kicking a ball with considerable skill who cannot walk normally.
I suppose walking is more deliberate and has not got the forward momentum of the other movements.

i was surprised and pleased to see walking v running.... a gotta say it running wins hands down, i run a lot and fast too, mostly this is when my tablets are working because i run a good distance ,like a couple of mile,
but i do find that when my tablets were off and find it really hard to walk, this happens mostly at the bottom of the hill returning from school or the town, that the best way to get is run!!! h ave no idea why, i think possibly it may be because its a fast reactive movement ,not a slow controlled one.
i think its also important to keep running often , to use and build muscles so that they cant just retire, also running improves your cardivascular which is not affacted by pd, but youll go futher with out feeling nackered!!

simular sort of movements when i am stiff that are possible are... although i cant move my arms much a fast punch into the air, double jab like a boxer or martial art >>
and to dance kinda like your in a club and havent got much room, to hop up and down on one foot twice then switch to the other foot.

anyway either the circus or the men in white coats will be at the door soon so take acare of yourselfs xxxxx

I had an appointment with the osteopath today (no neuro qualifications but loves this side of medicine)

She says that with walking your brain interacts at a more concious level. Apparently PWP that get the freezing thing whilst walking are taught to visualise stepping over a log to start everything off again.

With running, the brain lets the auto pilot take over as the momentum will not stop and therefore it doesn't take a lot of notice of what your limbs are doing.

It kind of makes perfect sense and no sense at all to me!

have I got this right? for PWP walking requires a concious effort to eg swing arms, keep going. But running has a momentum of its own so no need o think about it? Makessome sense of why once I get going I find it difficult to stop/change direction


Now there is an incentive to lose weight - then perhaps I could run. I could do the shopping in half the time and save the petrol for the car. I could keep up with my grandchildren and run rings round everyone else. Whooo this needs consideration.


Seemingly, walking and running involve different parts of the brain.
Walking seems to involve the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri (areas involved in visuospatial navigation), occipital visual areas, and in the cerebellum.
Running involves predominantly cerebellar activation in the vermis and adjacent hemispheres but activations in the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri were smaller than during walking.
Parkinsons , i believe, particulary effects most of those areas used in walking but not those used in running. there seems to be a peculiar visual element to walking problems.

having re-read my last post, its full of neuro-cr*p, basically walking is a more basic function using spatial-awareness parts of tthe brain that are very affected by parkinsons whereas runnin and cycling use higher consciousness functions that are less affected.

This is an interesting topic. My walking is ok, sometimes slows a bit when due for next medication.I still swing my arms. I can cycle for hours and actually feel normal again doing this.
But something odd happens when I have to stand , say at the bus stop or looking at the books at the library -- I start to feel weak and particularly in the library, have to sit down if at all possible. Why should just standing demand so much effort ? Wish I knew

I think the previous explanations of automatic v thoughtful movement are right.
I sometimes can break into a run when I feel that I am going to suffer from inability to walk, but then I can't get going again if something stops me. This causes bewilderment in passers-by, as I desperately try to weave a path through pedestrians and ticket barriers without stopping, desperate to make it to the train or home, and often pursued at a distance by my wife. Likewise, I have sometimes managed to cycle along a river towpath when I can't walk, but again get thwarted if I have to stop. (So unfortunately neither ploy makes a particularly useful or reliable solution to immobility except on the odd occasion).
As an aside, I read somewhere that the brain benefits from the visual cue of each arm alternately coming into view in the corner of the eye during running, which the brain uses to trigger the next leg movement. This apparently is why you should "pump" your arms during running, and why it is difficult for arm amputees to run easily.

Hi Lorna. I may be wrong but I have assumed that just standing requires constant fine adjustment of muscles to keep your balance, which uses up a lot of dopamine in signalling all the slight changes. And keeping muscles more or less in one position is tiring, as you find if asked to keep an arm stretched out horizontally for any length of time. Movement usually requires one muscle to tighten while another relaxes, and then switch to the other state, which probably gives the muscles time to recover as half the time they are relaxed.

I was just going to ask about the balance problem. Thank you for the explanation

I have found standing as opposed to walking really difficult for many years, long before other funny little symptoms were leading me to suspect something was wrong.
The more you learn about this disease, the stranger it gets.

Hi Passeggiata,
Thanks for your explanation about why some of us find it such an effort to stand for any length of time, I think you're entirely right. At the bus stop , I usually shift about from one foot to the other , it seems to help.
Last year , when I'd not been diagnosed very long, I went to an information day at the hospital and I was surprised at the large number of people who turned up . My point is , there were not enough chairs and the Parkinson nurse running the meeting ( not my nurse, I'm glad to say ) just said , sorry we don't have any more chairs , you'll have to stand !
The meeting lasted about 2 hrs, but many left before it finished !
Knowing that this is likely to be difficult for many P.W.P. wasn't this awful ?
This is why it's so good to hear actual experiences from people who are walking the walk. Many of the professionals there to help us, are excellent, but some disappoint us. Have good day all !

I'm new to this forum but the question re walking vs running caught my eye because exactly the same thing happened to me. I'm now on medication and can walk much better as a result but prior to that, my left leg wouldn't move forward past my right leg, so I had a pronounced limp and this caused severe secondary problems in my knee. However I could still run normally - so that's what I did - I didn't much care about how it looked, just that it was more comfortable than walking, and no doubt kept me rather fit! I don't need to do it now because the meds (mirapxin & azilect) are helping.
It was interesting reading the replies.
The other thing that helped me walk much more normally was singing a song in my head and moving in a dancing motion - bouncing a bit and flexing hips - just the smallest dance movement improved my gait considerably and my leg did what I wanted it to more often. Song comes from a different part of the brain to language so I've read, I found the singing thing helpful to practise walking more rhythmically too even without dancing.
You can only dance if you're in a good mood I find....so it helps lift your spirits, even if feeling pretty fed up...has anyoneelse tried it?

I find counting 1,2,3,1,2,3 in waltz time helps put my socks on. Dr Jonathan Miller had a programme on parkinsons about 20 (?) years ago that featured a man who could run but not walk. I found it very interesting at the time ... little did I know! Haven't been able to find a link to it.

On a different note, I found an interesting article that said that the maximum placebo effect for pwp was when they were told that a treatment was 75% effective. 100% didn't excite a dopamine response as it was a certainty, 50% wasn't exciting enough, but 75% was just right!

One thing about parkinsons is that it is a very interesting disease that shows us a lot about the weirdness of the human brain. More interesting than diabetes for example. Arent we lucky!

Singing as you walk is a very good idea. Our friend Hugh insists on singing the Plymouth Argyle tune....sad. My hubby(pwp)and I often walk in step(left right.etc) and I'm often to be heard saying 'heel' by his side as his heels are often up off the ground causing him to fall or go off balance. When moving through the house he finds that if he closes his eyes just before going through a doorway there is no problem.:smile:

closing his eyes is interesting as there seems to be a definite link between spatial perception problems and walking (as opposed to running or cycling). it also links into freezing where people can be helped by imaging a line the need to step over. http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/about_us/news/news_items/all_news/freezing_and_spatial_awareness.aspx
i think this aspect of parkinsons is underestimated. it particularly affects driving. i believe pwp have to compensate for the deterioration of their spatial subconscious processing by using their conscious mind to work out where things are. this is obviously slower and less certain, causing hesitation or freezing.
i know that when i am driving i have to make conscious calculations of objects positions instead of relying on them being perceived accurately by my subconscious.