Easing the pain of working in lockdown

BY Craig Wilson of PHYSIO REPUBLIC

During Lockdown, most of us are working from home and juggling our own work with homeschooling and restrictions of our normal exercise routines. Our whole lives are restricted but the one thing we need to avoid is restriction of our body movements. We are humans; living machines of joints and muscle and we need to move to keep ourselves flexible, our muscles in good condition and our minds healthy. Try these few suggestions to keep life less painful while we wait to get a little closer to normal.

Commute Around The House

Working from home on the laptop, sitting in the same place day after day, can cause stiffness and pain in the low back, upper back, shoulders, elbows, neck and hips...the list goes on! Changing your body's movement patterns regularly throughout the day helps avoid the inevitable fatigue and pain that appears from these prolonged, static positions.

Top Tip: Consider changing the chair you usually use with another and use a cushion at the base of your low back to create a more supportive position.

Top Tip: Try using a different table to work from to adjust your work position and alter your screen angle. A few small adjustments here and there can make a huge difference to your neck and back.

Top Tip: Standing desks are a great idea but avoid the expense and try to use books under your laptop and mouse to create your own standing desk and switch from a sitting position to a standing position every hour.

Top Tip: Ask someone to take a photo of you whilst you are working. If it looks like your face is closer to the computer screen than your chest, you're officially slumped and not too far from being in pain. Don't worry...the exercises below should straighten you back up!

Keep Active

Prolonged positions with minimal movement can cause muscles to weaken and the opposite muscle groups to tighten. If muscles weaken enough, the inevitable postural slump begins and the strain on underlying ligaments can lead to chronic postural changes and pain. Daily working at your desk, dining table or from your lap without regularly changing your position is the biggest cause of pain and yet the easiest to correct.

Top Tip: Try these simple exercises regularly whilst working:

Adjust your chair position regularly and use cushions to support your low back.

Sit yourself tall, with an arched low back, tuck your chin in and take 5 deep breaths.

Draw your shoulder blades backwards and give them each a roll backwards for 10 seconds.

Shift your weight from hip to hip for 10 seconds.

Top Tip:Set a recurring hourly alarm on your phone to remind you to change position and perform the exercises again.

Sunlight and Exercise

Try not to miss out on your exercise and your daily walk outside. Refresh your brain and body with exercising outside if you can. The sunlight not only strengthens our immune system but reduces stress, fights off depression, strengthens our bones and improves sleep. And the way you walk makes a huge difference too so alter your pace every now and again.

Top Tip:If you're sitting at the computer all day, try to add to your daily exercise by walking tall and lengthening your stride through the front of your hips. This should strengthen the muscles you've been sitting on and stretch out the front of your hips.

Top Tip: Walk at a slow pace between two lampposts and then increase your speed and stride length between the next two before slowing again. Repeat the sequence throughout your walk.

Top Tip: Dance! Have a 5 minute breather from your work and put on some music. You won't become Darcey Bussell, but the endorphins released will lift your mood, reduce your perception of pain and help brain function!

Just keep moving and we'll get through this as painlessly as possible!

Any problems that persist, keep safe, wait for lockdown to end and book in online at www.physiorepublic.co.uk

Craig is the Lead Physiotherapist at Physio Republic and is currently raising money for the mental health charity MIND ahead of the 2022 London Marathon

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/craig-wilson-physio-republic