With continuous pandemic challenges thrown our way, our overall mental and physical health has taken a toll. From adapting daily routines to reinventing socially distant hobbies, we have been fairly homebound as we strive to keep our communities safe.

However, engaging in physical activity to keep our bodies moving is critical. Aysha Morgan, a physical therapist from Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) in Canyon Park, tells us the importance of implementing physical therapy into your wellness routine. Now is the perfect time to start, as physical therapy appointments can be done in the comfort of your own home through virtual appointments. There are many resources in this sector that can be used to help with overall fitness, including such places as the Lifemotion Balance Center, helping people feel a sense of normal after their bodies have taken a ‘hit’ so to speak.

How have the pandemic and social distancing mandates taken a toll on our bodies?
The pandemic has impacted us all. We’re all less physically active and are engaging in less physical exercise. These two concepts are separated because less of both will make a big impact in your overall health.

Physical activity is the overall movement of the body and muscles that requires energy. Physical exercise, however, is a planned, structured and repetitive movement to improve your physical fitness.

The pandemic has caused a huge deterioration for who we are-as humans need regular physical activity to function-by limiting options for physical exercise and physical activity, resulting in a more sedentary lifestyle.

Currently, what are the most common injuries or areas of concern you are seeing as a physical therapist?
For my older patients, I was surprised to see an increase in knee, hip and leg issues. As a result of a more sedentary lifestyle, patients aren’t able to go to their regular yoga classes or aren’t gardening as much as they used to. I can tell that people are less physically active because there have been more issues related to falls and balance as well.

For students and folks working from home, I have noticed that those patients have more neck and back strain due to a bad at-home work setup.

What are some recommended exercises we can do from home while gyms have limited openings?
You should not do the same activity every day. If you go on a walk, vary your route with different slopes or steps to help strengthen your joints and muscles.

  • Chest and shoulder exercises are best for those who are sitting at a desk most of the time. This is the area that gets tight from stress and working on a computer.
  • Corner stretches are also helpful to stretch out these areas.
  • Consider doing movements that are opposite of what you do while you’re sitting:
    • Stretch your arms behind you often
    • Roll your head and shoulders to take a break
    • Doing the opposite and stretching is key

I also suggest making an appointment with a physical therapist to discuss what movements would be best for strengthening areas of concern with your body.

For those working from home full-time, what advice do you have to ensure our bodies stay healthy?
If you work from home, consider how long your commute in the morning and evening is, and use that time to go for a walk or do a quick workout. It’s important that you establish a routine and don’t go straight to work after waking up.

Other things to consider are:

  • Make sure your elbows and wrists are supported while you’re working at your desk.
  • The “next position” is something to keep in mind – sit for an hour and a half, stand and repeat.
  • Consider replacing your chair with an exercise ball, if possible.

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Aysha Morgan, PT, DPT, OCS is a physical therapist at PacMed’s Canyon Park clinic. She is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist in physical therapy with education from Arcadia University in Philadelphia, PA. Her medical interests include orthopedics, manual therapy, McKenzie-based lumbar spine treatment and restoration. When not at the clinic, you can find her traveling, hanging out with her friends and family, baking or doing yoga.

Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) is a multi-specialty medical group with nine neighborhood clinics in the Puget Sound area. PacMed delivers high-quality health care focused on the individual needs of its diverse patient population with an emphasis on improving the quality of health in the community.

About Lesley Michelle

Lesley is the founder and editor of What's Up NW. Lesley does love her beer and writes about that A LOT, but she also loves to shine the light on local events, people and businesses that call the Pacific Northwest home!

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