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, this article would present to you 5 ways to remain pain-free at home as well as stay fit using no equipment.
1) Activation exercises and Calisthenics
Continue the activation exercises prescribed and if doubtful about the exercise, send a video of you performing it to your physio so that your treatment is not interrupted. To keep fit incorporate Calisthenics in your routine. Calisthenics is exercises that use minimal to no equipment and principally use bodyweight to load large muscle groups simultaneously. For example squats, push-ups, chin-ups, lunges, etc are all bodyweight 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 note of the right form and technique while doing the exercises by keeping a spotter who disqualifies someone if they lose the correct form).
- 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 a calf)
- Hanging challenge-How long can one hang till they fatigue and drop-down (great for kids to improve height, tackle spinal alignment issues)
2) 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!
How to do it-Sit in an erect posture at all times. I know this is easier said than done. What one can do is try to maintain the posture for a short time at first and then go on increasing the times from thereon.
Another way is to use cues in day to day life such as if you see your favorite color, 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!!
So you had scheduled an appointment with your physio but had to cancel because you have a recent history of traveling 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, continue 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 its the back then a hot pack might help as well. Do what suits you and reduces the pain.
- C-Compression as in the 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 elevating the part above the level of the heart in the event of swelling
If you have any queries specific to your condition contact your physio before taking a new step.
4) 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 practicing stretches at least twice a day and holding the stretch for 30 seconds! (You can send videos of your stretch position to your physio so as to correct form)
5) Stay Positive
I cannot emphasize the importance of mental health enough!! know that recent times can be testing but just utilize your time to be closer 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).