Lockdown aches and pains:
Is your neck or back becoming a bit of a problem during lockdown? Well, you’re not alone! We have certainly noticed a lot more people presenting to the clinic with neck and back pain over 2020 and 2021. So what is causing it and what can you do at home?
Change of exercise routine:
The last 18 months have seen us spend a lot of time away from our usual forms of exercise. Are you missing your gym or studio? Well your neck and back might be too! Many of us have taken up walking, running or cycling. These are all great types of exercise but it is important you don’t forget strengthening exercises. Resisted exercise helps build strength, improve posture and increase our tolerance to the load of sitting.
Perhaps you have started your new home work-outs involving weights or loading and had neck or back pain as a result? That may be because your body wasn’t used to the load or your technique wasn’t great. It’s important to start light, with a resistance (weight or band) that allows good technique.
It’s also useful to use a mirror to check your form if you are working out alone. If you’re not confident to do your own work outs or you need appropriate exercises to treat your pain, our Physiotherapists are running online group and individual exercise sessions. You can book by calling the clinic.
Have you seen our YouTube channel? Take a look here for some great home workouts: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClngrhTqRpn87x15J8FeUPg
When you are working from home and only have 5 valid reasons to leave the house, you will be getting a lot less incidental exercise. Incidental exercise is the movement you would do when performing other tasks or activities in a day. Example include:
- Walking to attend a meeting or ask a colleague a question.
- Taking a flight of stairs at the movies.
- Taking the kids to school.
- Making a cup of tea in the work staffroom.
We are more sedentary because we are no longer doing these things. Therefore, it’s important to seek out movement, to give yourself frequent breaks and allow your body to change positions. Try incorporating a few small workouts, weights or stretches into the day in addition to your existing longer exercise sessions outside. Get up from your desk or work area frequently, even if it is just to walk across the room and back!
We have all felt new stressors over the lockdown periods. Be it working from home, home schooling, job insecurity or missing friends, family and travel. Stress increases the level of cortisol in our body, can increase muscular tension and can even make us less likely to participate in healthy behaviours. These are all things that can lead to increased pain levels.
Tess Andrews, Psychologist, discusses stress management here: https://portmelbournephysio.com.au/stress-management-2/
It’s important to take time for exercise, self care, mindfulness and to reach out to friends, family or health professionals that can help you if you aren’t coping.
Ergonomic set up:
Working from home can mean a less than ideal work space and this can increase the loads on our neck and backs. Working from a laptop can be hard on our neck and shoulders as you either compromise your head position so your arms are relaxed with typing or your shoulders are tensed reaching up to have your screen high enough for neutral neck position! Having a separate mouse and keyboard is a cheap and easy way to optimise both! Position the top of your computer screen so it is level with your eyes. Make sure you are not reaching out to your keyboard or mouse, your shoulders should be relaxed by your side.
More important than the perfect set up is giving yourself frequent breaks. Our bodies aren’t meant to sit still all day, no matter how good our set up is.
If you are suffering from neck or back pain, please get in touch with the clinic on 9681 7255 for further assistance.
~ Sarah Jarvie
You may find these other lockdown-inspired blogs interesting:
- Erdem Atalay, Bedrettin Akova, Hakan Gür, Ufuk Sekir. Effect of Upper-Extremity Strengthening Exercises on the Lumbar Strength, Disability and Pain of Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Study
- J Sports Sci Med. 2017 Dec; 16(4): 595–603. Published online 2017 Dec 1.
- Heredia-Rizo AM, Petersen KK, Madeleine P, Arendt-Nielsen L. Clinical outcomes and central pain mechanisms are improved after upper trapezius eccentric training in female computer users with chronic neck/shoulder pain. Clin J Pain 2019;35(1):65–76.
- Amir Letafatkar, Kiana Fathollahnejad& Malihe Hadadnezhad. The effect of manual therapy and stabilizing exercises on forward head and rounded shoulder postures: a six-week intervention with a one-month follow-up study.
- BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2019: 20 (86).