The last few weeks have been an unprecedented time for everyone. Concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic have ground life to a halt for most people, forcing us to find new ways of maintaining a “normal” routine. From her home in Colorado, TeamUP Co-Captain Becky Piper has been working on creating a new sense of balance in a world of social distancing and shelter-at-home orders. In part one of this “Tips for the Newly Quarantined” series, Becky offers some insights for keeping active when gyms are closed and Physical Therapist offices are inaccessible.

Maintaining an Exercise Routine

The world is in the midst of a global pandemic. Most people are self-quarantined, fully quarantined or at least taking extra precaution to keep themselves and others safe. I opened my doors (figuratively) to Get Back UP Today to show how I am handling the quarantine.

The gyms are all closed, and stress is incredibly high. Most people have to get creative when staying active inside their own home or neighborhood. It reminds me of how I had to be creative when I first was paralyzed. I needed to adapt every exercise to accommodate my abilities at that time, so when I decided to self-quarantine to stay healthy and safe, I knew I needed to revive that old creativity in me.

I need to keep up my elite-level bike training if I’m going to have a chance at making the 2021 Paralympic team and luckily, I’ve invested in an in-home cycle trainer and rollers. The blessing that comes from riding my bike on the trainer is that I can do some incredibly hard training sessions!

I also have to keep developing my strength even though I’m stuck inside most of the day. I have a TRX system, a 12 pound medicine ball and various resistance bands to use, but if I didn’t, I could always use my own bodyweight. A few exercises I do are TRX back rows, resistance band side steps and bodyweight lunges.

Finally, staying active while social distancing should include getting fresh air. Take this opportunity to get outside—even if it’s just in your own backyard.

Taking a walk, going for a run or bike ride and taking a hike are all great ways to get some sunshine in our life right now. Luckily, it snowed 2 feet at my house in the mountains, so this meant I had to get out and help shovel, which is definitely a full-body workout!

Doing “Physical Therapy” At Home

Staying away from large groups of people means I no longer can do physical therapy in an office setting. While I haven’t done this in a long time, I was excited to get started again.

As a result, I resurrected a few of my old physical therapy exercises and instead of morphing them into my strength training (which is usual), I started doing a few exercises that are purely therapy.

I will say here that I am not a Physical Therapist; I just know what I can do to help me. Stay in contact with your PT via phone, email, Skype, etc. to find out what’s best for you.

For safety reasons, my PT instructed me to use a spotter for certain exercises that I don’t have good balance for yet. Luckily, my husband is self-quarantining with me. The last thing I want to do is make it through this pandemic only to injure myself while doing therapy. These are just a few exercises that my PTs put together for me.

Balance Drills on a Pillow

For 30 seconds I stand on a pillow and weight change, spending most of my time on my paralyzed right leg. This is better when done with a Bosu Ball or balance disc, but desperate times call for desperate measures…

Sit-to-Stands

Since squats are considered contra-indicated (which means since they put undue pressure on the brace I wear, I shouldn’t do them with the brace on), for therapy, I do sit-to-stands. When I do these, I sit on a chair in my house and try to stand up without touching anything with my hands. My goal is to  do 5 unassisted sit-to-stands in a row. Once I’m finished, I stay standing and do some weight changes with the goal of standing with most of my weight on my paralyzed right side for 5 seconds.

Circle Lunges

These help to build my balance and my proprioception (the awareness of my own body’s movement and positioning). To do this, I make a circle of scraps of painter’s tape around me. Then I do a lunge by placing one foot on a scrap of tape and then step back. Then I try to do my lunges with my eyes closed and step on each piece of tape.  This is a lot trickier because I have to feel where my body is in space without being able to feel it.

How are you staying active during this moment? Send us your story below and might feature it on our social media pages! We hope you and your family and friends are staying healthy and safe — and don’t forget to wash those hands!

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