Staying Fit While Staying Safe

exercising at home

Why do we get tight muscles?

With over 30 years of work experience as a Physical Therapist, I am often asked by friends and family how to maintain flexibility in your spine, especially during this COVID-19 “shelter at home” quarantine.  It is a stressful time in unfamiliar circumstances. This can cause our bodies to tense up causing neck or back pain, especially for those who are missing their workouts at the gym, their monthly massages, or their prescribed visits to a physical therapist. 

Exercise tips for home

Patients look to me to suggest alternative tools they can use to maintain their flexibility and health.  There are many things you can do right in the comfort of your own home.   In addition to performing stretching exercises, I suggest laying on a golf ball or a tennis ball to release trigger points in the shoulder blades and neck. Leaning into the arms or backs of chairs can release tension in the back.  Foam rollers are very useful in stretching your back or releasing knotted muscles. If you dont have a foam roller, you can lightly lay with your back on a water bottle or a rolling pin that is placed horizontal to your spine.

Breathing

Breathing plays an important role in maintaining thoracic flexibility.  Frequently, patients will describe that their chest feels tight” and they cant take a deep breath.  Proper breathing techniques with diaphragmatic breathing are extremely helpful in relaxing the diaphragm muscle.  This in turn will also help mobilize the rib cage. The ribs are attached to the thoracic vertebrae; once the ribs are moving freely, the thoracic spine becomes more flexible.  Putting light pressure over your diaphragm and holding it while breathing can make a significantly reduce chest tightness.

 

All of these alternative tools can help maintain flexibility when our regular activities are not available to us right now. Stay healthy and strong.  We at Frank Y. Wei, M.D., PLLC hope to see you all again soon.

 

Author
JIll Sinda, M.S., P.T.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Is Degenerative Disc Disease the Cause of my Back Pain?

As we all age, our bodies change. Our hair thins, our vision dims, our joints wear, and our spinal discs thin and undergo degeneration. However, just because a disc shows signs of aging, it does not necessarily mean it is causing your back pain.

Arthritis Pain

As we go about our daily lives, we use our bodies to get things done - yard work, sports, or just getting dressed in the morning. We use our joints. Just as with our cars, over time the parts begin to wear out. What can you do to keep your "car" running?

Isn't All Physical Therapy the Same?

When I see a patient and recommend physical therapy (P.T.), they often question my suggestion as “they have already tried P.T.” and it didn't help. Success is in the details. There are many types of P.T. Finding the right technique is key.

What Happens to My Disc Herniation?

People who have back pain and sciatica caused by a disc herniation, wonder how they can recover without surgery. The human body is amazing in that it often is capable of healing itself. The medical profession just gives it a little help.