Often, as I enter the premises of the WTTC (the ‘club’) in the late afternoon, I often see this two thousand plus-rated ping pong player deep in the throes of an intense pre-activity warm-up. “Intense” doesn’t really adequately describe what’s happening. I mean this guy is jumpin’ up and down and running circles around the ping pong tables, all the while flailing and whirling his arms furiously. A regular whirling dervish, he looks like he just might launch himself into the stratosphere and beyond (which would be fine with me, because I’d move up in the club ratings). Now here’s the question: Is this guy a genuine doofus, or is there something to this weirdness? And what about our own pre-ping pong exercises? Are they important?
Well, I don’t want to sound indecisive and give you a wishy-washy answer, but the information available on this subject is itself ambivalent. For example, Web MD (I guess that’s a trusted site) notes that you’re not going to hurt yourself if you don’t stretch before a workout. But there are other ‘experts’ who claim just the opposite. There does seem to be some consensus of opinion, however, relating to so-called ‘dynamic’ warm-up exercising. This is a pre-exercise in which active movements closely simulate or model your actual physical activity to come. For example, if one were to run a mile, he or she might start the pre-warm-up with a slow jog. There is general agreement that this ‘dynamic’ type of exercise can prevent injuries and improve performance, as well. (Note: some people would not consider this form of warm-up as bona fide “stretching” in the formal sense.)
Now back to our own Parkinson’s exercises. They are important for us – not necessarily to produce ping pong champions – but in order to maintain flexibility and balance and to keep muscles limber (use it or lose it). Stretching for Parkinson’s patients can also help reduce back and neck pain (more common in PD patients than the general population).
So, the take-home is: We’ll continue our warm-up preliminaries and we’ll endeavor to adapt new exercises customized for Pongers. Lao Du