Creatine Increases Strength with Parkinson’s Disease

Resistance training with creatine monohydrate improves upper-body strength in patients with Parkinson disease: a randomized trial. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2007 Mar-Apr;21(2):107-15. Hass CJ, Collins MA, Juncos JL.

Persons with Parkinson disease (PD) exhibit decreased muscular fitness including decreased muscle mass, muscle strength, bioenergetic capabilities and increased fatigability.
This purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the therapeutic effects of resistance training with and without creatine supplementation in patients with mild to moderate PD.
Twenty patients with idiopathic PD were randomized to receive creatine monohydrate supplementation plus resistance training (CRE) or placebo (lactose monohydrate) plus resistance training (PLA), using a double-blind procedure. Creatine and placebo supplementation consisted of 20 g/d for the first 5 days and 5 g/d thereafter. Both groups participated in progressive resistance training (24 sessions, 2 times per week, 1 set of 8-12 repetiions, 9 exercises). Participants performed 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) for chest press, leg extension, and biceps curl. Muscular endurance was evaluated for chest press and leg extension as the number of repetitions to failure using 60% of baseline 1-RM. Functional performance was evaluated as the time to perform 3 consecutive chair rises.
Statistical analyses (ANOVA) revealed significant Group x Time interactions for chest press strength and biceps curl strength, and post hoc testing revealed that the improvement was significantly greater for CRE. Chair rise performance significantly improved only for CRE (12%, P=.03). Both PLA and CRE significantly improved 1-RM for leg extension (PLA: 16%; CRE: 18%). Muscular endurance improved significantly for both groups.
These findings demonstrate that creatine supplementation can enhance the benefits of resistance training in patients with PD.

My comments:

Recommending dietary supplements is outside my scope of practice, however I thought this study was interesting. Creatine monohydrate was something all the we all took when I was on the weightlifting team at NAU, as did the entire football team. I did papers on it regarding performance enhancement when I was working towards my exercise science degree. The creatine worked noticeably well for us weightlifters and football players, and creatine monohydrate has since become a very well studied and demonstrated safe ergogenic aid for sports. So I think it’s interesting that it’s now being studied to see how it helps in patients who could benefit as much, if not more, than athletes.

Athletes generally “load” creatine by taking 10-20 grams per day for a week, then maintain on 3-5 grams per day. This study did the same with Parkinson’s patients taking 20 grams for the first week and 5 grams afterwards, in addition to a basic total body weightlifting program. Their results were compared to other Parkinson’s patients who did the exercise program without the creatine monohydrate. Both groups improved in strength but the creatine group improved more with chest press strength increasing 21% compared to 9% in the control group, leg extensions increased 18% compared to 16% in the control (little difference) and biceps increased 23% in the creatine group compared to 8% in the control group. So it seemed to work better for upper body than lower body, but in a squat test the creatine group increased 11% compared to 6% in the control group. All the research on athletes I have seen showed it worked just as well for the lower body as the upper, so I expect the lesser improvement in the legs of the Parkinson’s patients is a spurious finding. Not bad for a supplement for which the brand I use costs $29 for a 6 month supply. I found a few other studies looking at creatine improving outcomes with fibromyalgia, and increasing longevity in mice. I’ve found enough newer/general health applications that I think I will blog more on some of it, and it got me to start taking it again.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you have any questions or comments (even hostile ones) please don’t hesitate to ask/share. If you’re reading one of my older blogs, perhaps unrelated to neck or back pain, and it helps you, please remember Spinal Flow Yoga for you or someone you know in the future.

Chad Reilly is a Physical Therapist, obtaining his Master’s in Physical Therapy from Northern Arizona University. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. Exercise Science also from NAU. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and holds a USA Weightlifting Club Coach Certification as well as a NASM Personal Training Certificate. Chad completed his Yoga Teacher Training at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa, India.

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