5 Ways to Stay Pain Free and Fit at Home; Physical Therapy in the Midst of a Pandemic
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives including those seeking Physical Therapy. Health care workers come in close contact with patients and although frequent hand washing, using masks and taking other precautions might reduce the risk of transmission; social distancing and staying at home is the best alternative to curb the disease spread.
Bearing this in mind, we present to you with 5 preventative ways to remain pain free and fit at home:
Activation exercises and Calisthenics
Continue the activation exercises prescribed and if doubtful about the exercise, please send a video of you performing it to us so that your treatment is not interrupted. To keep fit incorporate Calisthenics in your routine. Calisthenics are exercises that use minimal to no equipment and principally use body weight to load large muscle groups simultaneously. For example squats, push ups, chin ups, lunges etc, are all body weight exercises that can be easily done at home. Be creative and load up by holding your child in your arms or using a backpack with books to up the ante. Sweat it out by competing with your family members in the following challenges (take a note of the right form and technique while doing the exercises by asking a family member for feedback if you lose correct form). Lets start with the following-
Plank challenge- How long can one sustain the plank position (great to activate the global core muscles)
Squats challenge- Count the number of squats completed within a stipulated time (great for activating the muscles in the buttocks, front of the thigh as well as calf)
Hanging challenge- How long can one hang till they fatigue and drop down for grip strength, activation of hip and core muscles.
Focus on improving Posture
Posture correction is something that physical therapists continuously reiterate because length tension relationships or in simpler terms muscle imbalances are the ones that majorly contribute to aches and pains be it the neck or the back!
This can be achieved with 2 simple steps-
- Stay upright and avoid slouching
- Keep changing your position every 20 minutes or so
We know this is easier said than done but certainly worth the effort especially in these testing times when we are unable to assist you with manual therapy interventions.
Encourage yourself by using daily life cues such as if you see your favourite colour, adjust your posture. If you see a specific person passing you by, be reminded again. Such cues work wonders in the short run and help to reinforce good posture habits unconsciously in the long run.
Avoid sustained postures because they wreak havoc in your body by tensing certain muscles and weakening others. Take frequent breaks while working from home as well!!
Keep your head held high not just for confidence but also for maintaining a good posture!!!
Dealing with pain, discomfort or stiffness
So you had scheduled an appointment with your physio but had to cancel because you have a recent history of travelling and do not want to take chances? Yet the pain seems to be unbearable and you wish you could do something on your own about it?
Acute pain should be tackled with the P.O.L.I.C.E. protocol which stands for-
- P-Protection, protect the part with either bracing or bandaging
- O.L-Optimal loading, if you have seen the physio before, continues with the same exercises given before by him/her. Do not do exercises from the internet to prevent aggravating your pain
- I-Icing the part helps but if it’s the back then a hot pack might help as well. Do what suits you and reduces the pain.
- C-Compression as in use of a compression bandage to reduce swelling. See to it that the bandage has a graded pressure wherein it is tighter distally and less tight proximally.
- E-Elevation as in elevate the part above the level of the heart in the event of swelling
Of course we are always there to help you online, so please don’t waste any time in trying out new remedies, contact us promptly.
Stretching and foam rolling
This is the time where you can actually devote yourself to improving your flexibility and mobility. Practice those stretches prescribed by your physio such as upper trapezius stretch, piriformis stretch, etc. Utilize this time to release tight muscles by foam rolling be it the iliotibial band or the calf (been there, done that)! Facilitate your healing by practising stretches at least twice a day and holding the stretch for 30 seconds!(You can send videos of your stretch position to us so as to correct form).
Stretch to be your best!!
One cannot emphasize the importance of mental health enough!!
We know that recent times have been testing but let us utilize this period to be close to your loved ones, doing things that make you happy and rejuvenate yourself mentally by meditating or practicing Yoga (only those positions which are permitted by your physio).
Happiness is a state of mind rather than a state of current affairs in your life!
Rest, Reboot, Reload.
Stay safe, stay home!!!
Dr.Mamata Revankar, PT
YOS-Musculoskeletal & Sports Physio
(The beautiful pictures are by Chris Yang, Eric froehling, I Yunmai, Natalia and Sergio on Unsplash)