Different Strokes
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Pilates and yoga after a stroke

I've just returned to exercise after a stroke and I thought I would pass on some advice from the consultant neurologist regarding Pilates and yoga. In general avoid inverted poses such as the shoulderstand in yoga and, positions that lock the neck such as the One Hundred (with back curled up off the floor) in Pilates. The Legs up the Wall relaxation position is OK. Shoulderstand was one of my favourite positions but not worth the risk.

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There have been isolated incidences of people having a stroke in yoga. Those people had a predisposition to having a stroke whilst doing headstands etc. There is currently no way of establishing if someone has that predisposition. I did shoulderstands, plough, knee to ear pose, and the full one hundred for many years before I had a stroke that wasn't caused by yoga or Pilates. I've done the full one hundred and rolling like a ball since having a stroke, before I spoke to the consultant neurologist who had treated someone who had a stroke during yoga. People who have had a stroke or TIA have an increased risk of having another so she was advising me not to further increase that risk.

Numerical risk is interesting. In 2014 I was prescribed a drug in common use that placed me "close to death". I understand that the risk of that happening was 0.06% (6 in 100,00 of people taking the drug). Later that year aged 68 an EP gave me a CHADVASC score of 1 (1%), with a recommendation not to take an anticoagulant as I am a bleed risk. In 2016 I had a stroke whilst I was relaxed, not involved in physical exertion and, I had excellent health stats. The stroke took 50% of my sight and the route planning part of my brain was wiped. Additionally my brain is likely to have aged 3.4 years for every hour the stroke was untreated. I don't want to add to those losses.

We make decisions on the information that we know, however incomplete. My post was not a diktat but something to inform a decision. Whether people modify their exercise or not is their choice.



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