You’ve confirmed your reservations, renewed your passport, boarded your pets and finished all your perishables. (Cookies are perishable, right?) That’s when the anxiety begins. “What am I forgetting???” asks your worried brain. Is it your Hammacher Schlemmer personal air purifier? Your ergonomic neck pillow? Your floss threaders? Nope! It’s your Southshore Physical Therapy program for the road.
Designed to keep you progressing after a surgery, trauma, or other medical condition, your physical therapy plan shouldn’t be neglected just because you’re sleeping in a foreign place. You’ve already got mountains of laundry, pets with abandonment issues and all kinds of other things to address once you return home. You don’t need a setback in your healing process slowing you down as you resume your regular routine.
But how can you maintain your wellness program while on vacay? As an unapologetic overpacker, I know you don’t want to bring anything extra that eats up valuable shoe storage space in your suitcase. So, we’re going to keep it simple and say you don’t have to bring anything with you, except maybe a little commitment, for the following exercises.
- Knees to chest. Lie on your back on the bed or on a towel on the floor with your knees bent. Bring one knee up to your chest and hold in place with interlocked hands. Using only your arm strength, pull bent leg toward your chest and hold in 2-3 second pulses for three sets of ten repetitions. Do the right leg, the left and then both together.
- Partial sit-ups. Also known as crunches, this exercise is done lying on your back with your knees bent and arms at your sides. Lift your chin toward the ceiling using your abdominal muscles (not your neck). Repeat for three sets of ten.
- Toe raises. Standing with your hands on the wall or the back of a chair, raise up to your toes and lower to the ground again. Repeat for three sets of ten.
- Single leg stance. This exercise can be done behind a chair or next to a wall if you need to hold on for balance. Stand on one leg with the extended leg slightly bent and the other leg fully bent with your shin parallel to the floor, knees together and abdominal muscles engaged. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times for each leg.
- Standing scaption. Stand with your arms at your sides and shoulder blades squeezed back. Raise straight arms, thumbs facing up, in a V to your eye level then back down to neutral. Repeat for three sets of ten. For increased resistance, hold a water bottle or something weighted in each hand.
- Wall sit. Standing with your back against the wall, walk your feet out while sliding your back down until in a seated position. Press your lower back into the wall. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
- Sumo walks. Standing with knees bent and feet shoulder width apart, crabwalk sideways returning your feet to shoulder width apart after each step. Take 15 steps in one direction then reverse it with 15 steps back. Your knees should remain bent for the whole exercise.
- Seated flexion stretch. Sitting in a chair, bend at the waist and reach your hands under the chair extending as far as you can to feel the stretch in your spine. Hold for five seconds. Repeat ten times.
Your travel time is limited so you certainly don’t want to spend too much of it exercising and stretching in your hotel room. Just think of it like your vacation diet plan. You splurge for only one meal then eat healthfully the remainder of each day. (Or at least that’s the plan until you walk by the window display at the Willy Wonka-themed restaurant, right?)
It’s all about finding balance. And isn’t that always the way?
by Michele Robert Poche