Trying to Stay Physically Healthy during Quarantine
It goes without saying but 2020 is not off to the start that we all imagined it would be. Coronavirus seemingly took over in what seemed like an overnight, blink of an eye. The virus has infiltrated our news, social media, work emails, and more. Plans have changed, life events have been altered or completely canceled. Everyone has had to find a way to adjust to this ‘new normal’ that we are living in.
This shift in everything that we knew to be ‘normal’ has taken a toll on everyone. Everything from our mental health, lost jobs, new working quarters, modified workout environments and more have been 100% flipped upside down.
Personally, I have been fortunate to have a stable job throughout this global pandemic and crisis. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity and ability to work from the comfort of my own home while still being able to keep up with work productivity. That being said, I had to quickly re-adjust to my new makeshift ‘office set up’, routine, daily work outs, etc.
For the purposes of this post, I am focusing on this pandemics’ physical effects it has had on me. I transitioned quickly from a perfectly ergonomical work station, complete with standing desk capabilities and a standing mat to help with back pain; to a soft kitchen chair cushion, a table way too high (ergonomically speaking) and found myself doing daily online app workouts without properly stretching. All of a sudden I went from my yoga studio routine and in-class stretching to trying to get outside to burn off the anxiety with a fast-paced run. (Mind you, I haven’t run just to run in years)
Quickly, I began noticing new symptoms that I was definitely not experiencing prior to COVID19’s life transitions. My gut says it is a mix of lots of different factors but primarily, bad posture while working in a kitchen chair not meant for 8+ hours of sitting, over-exercising with very little stretching, and bad sleep (because… pandemic stress).
The Physical Therapy At-Home Fix
When I say ‘the fix’, I do not mean some “quick take this pill and you’ll feel better.” Rather it has been a lot of daily routine changes and major changes in the way that I stretch, heal and recover my body.
The most obvious outer change I made was giving in and ordering an ergonomic chair meant for working…. Should have done that much sooner.
I decided to take it to the professionals.
Next, I came across an Instagram video from My Concierge Physical Therapy and the lightbulb clicked on. Here was a doctor offering virtual consultations and custom treatment plans to address the very things that were causing me physical discomfort.
Enter Rachel Kohler, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, who recently launched My Concierge PT, a virtual practice, after seeing such a huge need to treat people from the convenience and comfort of their home. I was a little skeptical at first but approached my initial conversation with an open mind.
Finally, and perhaps the most obvious external change I made was giving in and ordering an ergonomic chair meant for working…. Should have done that much sooner! Rachel was able to help me sift through the infinite online options and ensure that my chair had the features that would help with my issues.
The Virtual Physical Therapy Process
If you are interested in working with Rachel but you are not sure where to start… just head straight to her instagram page where she offers free educational and instructional videos for common issues. Rachel specializes in orthopedic (knee, shoulder, back) and women’s health (pre & post-partum treatment) physical therapy. These short videos provide basic information and routines addressing everything from low back pain, to
headache treatment, to regaining your core strength after having a baby!
The videos caught my attention, and I wanted to learn more, so I reached out and explained some of my issues. After a quick text exchange, I was able to schedule a virtual physical therapy initial evaluation. During this first meeting, we went over what my issues were (lower back pain, hip tightness and poor core stability) and what my goals were (get back into
running or other high-intensity workouts without lower back pain, sleep better, increased mobility and core stability). You’re even able to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for the sessions.
My absolute favorite part about the entire process and program is
how personalized and customized the exercises, tips, videos and conversations were to address exactly what I needed. There was nothing ‘generic’ about my program and better yet, I noticed improvements shortly after completing week one.
Every single week, we had a ‘check-in’ virtual call to go over my progress, set-backs, how I was feeling, and modified certain exercises to make them more challenging when necessary. Some weeks I was on a roll, others I felt like I was taking two steps backwards. However, the key was learning how to address those set-backs in an effective manner and not letting the pain/immobility/frustration get the best of me.
My Personalized Physical Therapy Program
My PT program was 100% unique to my needs and the results were evident. I have incorporated daily exercises into my routine to open up my hips, roll out my hamstrings and glutes, loosen up my IT band, and stretch my back.
Also, since I have always worked out in studios with in-person warm-up instructions, I’ve been very bad at warming up my body prior to working out (and cooling down). Rachel noticed this and created an entire warm-up routine that I now complete before any sort of running, jumping, HIIT, or cardio workout. This has tremendously helped alleviate the lower back nerve and muscle pain that I was previously struggling with.
Last but not least, I got a bonus suggestion since she realized that we share a mutual passion for integrative and holistic health (i.e. natural health of mind body and spirit). She referred the book, Stress Less, Accomplish More by Emily Fletcher which has taught me how to incorporate daily meditation (via the ZIVA technique) into my life. This book which I’ve now listened to on Audible has been a complete game changer for my mental space. I’ve only been practicing this 2x (15 min each) daily practice for approximately 2 weeks now and I already notice a difference in my ability to fall asleep, manage everyday stressors, and remain calm during not-so-calm times.
Beginning my journey with a virtual Physical Therapist, I really had no idea what I was in for or how much the program would help. I definitely had zero clue that I would finish the program with both physical AND mental tools to better my overall health and wellbeing.
To me, it is so much more than just wanting to be able to workout with high intensity or lose weight or any other similar goal. It was my desire to naturally reduce my pain and discomforts (which I now am able to accomplish) and to experience better mobility and core stability in my daily activities (as simple as walking my 100lb. dog, going on long walks, lifting items around the house, etc).
I can 10/10 say that I would do the entire program again in order to achieve these results. It’s a joy to know that I have control over my discomforts and pains that arise and to know that Rachel has my back (even after the program ends). Oh ,and I certainly will continue to tune-in to @MyConceriege_PT for more IGTV tips and tricks!
(You can now visit her website directly here: www.kohlerphysicaltherapy.com/