It’s a perfect time for this blog as I find myself hunched over my laptop taping on the keyboard. I try to remind myself to focus on my posture, but as soon as I get distracted…. I morph into the Hunchback of Notre Dame. So what’s happening to my body with Parkinson’s disease and how can I help improve my slowly stooping self?
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can bring many unwanted symptoms, but rigidity and slowness of movement is usually on top that list. The stiffening of your body, leads to the tightening of muscles, which then starts the shortening of the muscle fibers, which ultimately impacts the way you stand. This snowball effect only gets more momentum when our body isn’t efficiently sending and receiving messages from our brain, (due to lack of dopamine). As your body adjusts to the change, standing with perfect posture actually becomes hard to do, even painful.
I will share a story that will make this concept a little easier to understand. I grew up in Colorado where windy weather was as common as wearing flip-flops in the summer. Sometimes the force of the wind was so strong that it would push a tree over causing it to lean. If the tree didn’t get support, such as tying the trunk to a stake, that tree could permanently be distorted. As gravity pulls it down, the trunk continues to grow stooped over, till one day, correcting it would be impossible without hurting the tree.
Now, imagine that you’re that tree … there you are just doing what trees do… you know, tree stuff. Branches swaying rhythmically back and forth. Leaves blowing in the breeze. But then the wind picks up and begins to blow you off center. The truck of the tree, (your body) tries to remain upright, but the wind (Parkinson’s disease) is just too strong and causes you to stoop over. The longer you stay in this position, the more difficult it will be for you to remain a strong tree with a straight trunk.
AlignMed has created products that provide the support you need to retain proper posture. They are like the stake that you used to help control the stooping tree. So you can imagine how excited I was to review their products.
Today, I will be reviewing the following AlignMed products:
1. AlignMed Sports Bra
AlignMed’s website describes the sports bra as,
“Engineered with AlignMed’s NeuroBand Technology, the AlignMed Sports Bra™ interacts with your body to support the alignment of the chest, neck, scapula and spine. The AlignMed provides the perfect amount of tension and preventative care for everyday use.”
I was pretty pumped to try out the AlignMed Sports Bra because being a personal trainer I know how important posture is. When we exercise with good alignment, we prevent any further injury to our already challenged bodies. So it was time to put it through the Perky Parkie test. I first wore the sports bra to an outdoor boot camp class and here is what I found:
-I definitely did feel a gentle pull to keep my shoulders back and it wasn’t too distracting.
-The design was comfortable, and didn’t hinder any of my movements during my workout.
-While wearing the garment, I did keep getting mental reminders to pay attention to my posture…. better than posting sticky notes around my house telling me to stand up straight.
-It’s an easy way to work on improving your alignment… you just have to wear it.
-Although the front zipper should make it easier to put on, I struggled with it. That could be easily be fixed if they would place a small eye-hook to hold the bra closed, then you could zip it up with little effort.
-The wide straps don’t allow for cute tank tops… yeah, I know it was created that way for functionality and not aesthetics, but a fashionista such as myself can help but mention.
-Now I am speaking to the ladies… men, plug your ears. This bra is not ideal for women with large breasts. There is just not enough support and with no underwire, you can feel like your back in the training bra days.
I will admit, I was a little skeptical about these shoe insoles, which is described on AlignMed’s website as,
“So much more than simply cushioning, our patented gel-channeling flows back and forth with every step to provide a constant massage that increases circulation through your entire body with every step. Full Range Insoles don’t just cradle your feet, they dynamically adjust to provide you with superior balance and support.”
That’s a bold statement to back up, so I slapped those gel clouds in my super adorable, bright neon pink sneakers and headed to the gym to see how they would hold up. Here is what I found:
-You feel a difference in your walk immediately.
-You have the ability to trim the insert to provide a custom fit to your hooves.
-They are super-thin and can fit various styles of shoes.
-I did notice when I stood for a long time and my dogs were barking, switching to the gel inserts alleviated any discomfort.
-It feels like you are walking on a cloud of Marshmallow whip… but don’t take a bite, I tried.
-Although I know its function is to promote circulation in the foot, the shifting of the gel under your tootsies can be a little distracting and can take a while to get used to it.
-The price for a pair of inserts is $41.00, which can be a bit high for Parkies already struggling with the high price of medications. BUT, they do have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so you can give them a spin without fear of spending money on something that doesn’t work for you. More incentive? Use the code perkyparkie at check out and save 25% off your purchase.
Now onto the mother ship…. the SpinalQ Vest. The AlignMed website describes how the technology works,
“The SpinalQ™ is the most functional bracing system for all stages of injury & recovery. The touch and tension of NeuroBands provides a passive therapy of muscle support and biofeedback that interacts with muscles and joints on a subconscious level. The bio-feedback works on sensory pathways to elicit the desired response for optimal posture, and to enlist muscle balance as a means to combat repetitive or awkward movements by enhancing the way the body is naturally intended to move.”
As you can see from the pictures, the SpinalQ is a postural vest, but it’s more than just a couple of bands that pull your shoulders back…. it’s a whole system that is intended to activate muscles that we forgot we even had. At first glance, it’s kind of intimidating. But nothing scares Perky Parkie, so I velcro’d up, and this is what I found:
-First and foremost…. IT IS FDA APPROVED, SO MOST INSURANCE PLANS COVER IT! Say what?! Yes, that wasn’t a typo. AlignMed sounded too good to be true, but as I found out with the proper documentation and prescription from my Movement and Disorder Specialist, my insurance covered it 100%
-It comes with its own protective neoprene bag.
-Unlike AlignMed’s Sports bra, the vest has eye-hooks that help making the front zipper easier to put on.
– From multiple abdominal surgeries, I tend to get lower back pain from my weakened abdominal muscles. This prevents me from walking long distances without pain. AlignMed claims the SpinalQ manages pain. So I decided to test this theory when I was already aching from shopping for the perfect dress from my Birthday celebration, but still needed to take my dog Crash on a long walk. Unbelievably, the SpinalQ eliminated all my back pain, and enabled me to walk the whole length of the lake by my house. So not only was I super-duper happy that it alleviated my pain, but Crash is also a fan of the vest because he got to chase the geese at the lake.
-The vest makes it easier to maintain proper posture by activating underused muscles that lead to the stooping position Parkie’s tend to fight.
-AlignMed doesn’t make the vest with rhinestones or my personal power color, hot pink. Yes, that is defiantly a con on my list.
-The vest can accentuate your rolls or muffin tops that are looking to be buttered. Me taking a picture of my fluffy areas just shows the dedication I have to my investigative review…. I report the good, the bad and the questionable.
-It can cause you to heat up and for a Parkie that runs hot already, it can be a little tricky to find an adorable way to wipe sweat off your top lip.
After trying these products in different scenarios, it was time to choose Perky’s Pick. This one was easy… without a doubt was the AlignMed SpinalQ vest. Not only did it eliminate my back pain and improve my posture, but also my insurance company covered it. With the help of AlignMed’s arsenal of postural support garments, this young onset sapling is prepared for any windy days to come.
To get 25% off your AlignMed apparel order, use the code: perkyparkie at checkout or :
If you are interested in submitting your insurance information to determine coverage:
If you have general questions about the the SpinalQ vest call AlignMed at: (866) 987-5433