by Michael Demetriades, DPT, April 9, 2020
As this pandemic forces many people to go out less and ultimately move their bodies less. This can be the perfect combination to allow muscle weakness to set in. Between moving less, outdoor household chores, and stuck inside; there are many ways to stay active and keep yourself safe during this time of year.
During this time where many people have to stay inside, which will lead to being less active and could possibly lead to falling more due to muscle weakness and inactivity. There are a number of ways to combat this without leaving your home during these times. Several body weight exercises can be performed in your home for people of every skill and disability level. Physical therapists can take an assessment and provide you with a great home exercise program tailored for your specific needs and skill level.
In my experience, patients that tend to be more active using specific home exercises overall fall less frequent. Some general exercises that most people are able to do would be sit to stand transfers from a chair, straight leg raises in bed, going up and down one step, lunges performed at your counter are just a few options. For a more specific plan contact a physical therapist for recommendations. The community can reach out to our office for some advice on what they can do to keep active at home.
Now that spring is here, there can be more work around your house to clean up the yard from the harsh New England winters. These spring activities of raking, picking up sticks and cleaning up the yard can be very taxing on your body. Prior to going out to perform yard working duties, make sure you are having a proper meal, drinking plenty of water and performing light stretching.
Also when performing these activities do smaller, more frequent rounds of the task, instead of leaving one daunting, big clean up. In my experience, I have seen many patients come in with injuries related to shoveling and raking when they leave everything for one big clean up. A good recommendation would be to go out a few times during the day to keep up with it to make it more manageable. This can be a hazard to pulling muscles and more importantly heart attacks if people have not been active during the winter months.
A few exercises that can be done in your house safely are sit to stands (squats), mini lunges, straight leg raises, and a walking routine. Sitting to standing exercises is a great, functional exercise that can be adjusted for any skill level. For people that struggle to stand up from sitting, you can use two hands on the arm rests to help you stand up. A progression from that when it gets easier would be to attempt to use one arm to assist as you build up some strength in your legs. Ideally, the goal would be to not use any help from your arms to go from sitting to standing. This activity is very functional, where we do it every day, from getting up from the toilet, a couch, a dining room and so on and so on.
The next movement would be a mini lunge which again can be adjusted to any skill level. Standing next to your kitchen counter or a table, hold one hand for support to help with balance, Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are slightly bent. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. The progression with this movement would be not using your arms for assistance and also going lower into the lunge position.
The next exercise is a straight leg raise. In this exercise, you will be lying on your back with one knee bent, the other straight. You will focus on tightening your abdominal muscles, then your muscles in your leg to keep it straight, at that point you will raise the leg to the height of the other knee and back down.
In the chance of an injury that occurs during spring cleaning, physical therapy is a great option that requires no prescription. Injuries will improve quicker when treatment intervention occurs sooner in the process.
These few tips and preventative measures can keep you safe during this spring and pandemic. If there are questions about any of the content above I can be contacted at Amity Physical Therapy in Branford at 203-433-4683.
Michael Demetriades, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist and certified personal trainer. He received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Michael is dedicated to helping his patients get back to their previous activities, managing their pain, and function at their optimal level. He is experienced in evaluating and treating all orthopedic and neuromuscular injuries and diseases. His interests are in treating athletes as well as rehabilitating orthopedic injuries. Michael’s experience also includes treating spinal conditions, fall prevention for the geriatric population, as well as rehabilitating the weekend warrior. Outside of work, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and dog. He currently lives in Branford where he grew up playing ice hockey, golf and baseball and has a passion for food and cooking.
Michael is Titleist Performance Institute Certified. This certification allows him to use the same distinguished evaluation and screening techniques that PGA players use to enhance performance and prevent golf related injury. Golfers of all ages and skill levels benefit from his golf performance program. He has also received certificate of completion from the Institute of Advanced Musculoskeletal Treatment in Dry Needling. In addition, Michael also has an active interest in the Parkinson’s population, where he is LSVT certified.