Lockdown 2.0 – 3 Handy Tips to Keep You Pain Free Working From Home
Unfortunately, the UK have been hit with a second national lockdown which comes into effect on Thursday 5th November.
With the announcement from Boris Johnson regarding the national lockdown in the UK, many of us may find that we are back working at home.
In clinic we have seen so many problems caused by home working.
Whilst it’s been great helping everyone get better after their problems – we ultimately want you to avoid these problems #preventionisbetterthanacure
The positive about this situation is that we can learn from the past and put a better plan in place for this time around
This blog is for everyone though – it’s something you can use whilst at work in the office also.
Why Can Home Working Cause Problems?
The answer to this question is undoubtedly going to be different for each person that reads this.
Our bodies get so used to working in the same way every day, over and over – this becomes our habit.
Our body then conditions to the demands placed upon it and becomes efficient at doing those things.
Now – if prior to lockdown you had been doing the same job for a long period of time – furlough or working from home may have come as a big shock to your body.
Add to that the reduced amounts of exercise or changes in the way we exercised due to gyms closing then this makes the effect of these circumstances changing twice as powerful.
Regular exercise is so important for the regulation of pain and strength in our bodies, but also our mental wellbeing.
When we suddenly place our body under a new set of circumstances, it is forced to adapt. Typically we can adapt to these small changes but because the change in life was so major – we just seemed to develop pain and problems more than usual.
If we look at some of the specifics of these changes – this can help us to further understand:
- Routine – at work we may be moving around a lot more, we may have a schedule at work that is quite fixed and habitual. At home, there may not be the same schedule which can lead us to sitting for longer periods and being less active. Not having an office/factory/workmates anymore greatly impacts what you do with your working day. More sitting is always a recipe for physical problems developing.
- Equipment – this ranges from computer, furniture and accessories you use to work from home. At your work you typically have a standard setup which allows you to work comfortably. At home – it could be the kitchen table, it could be the sofa or the bed and it may now be a laptop instead of a desktop computer.
- Exercise – A lot of MSK Sports Injury Clinic Newcastle clients are avid gym goers who regularly lift weights. If you suddenly take that away – soft tissues and joints become less tolerant to changes and can weaken. Considering neck/shoulders areas are vulnerable with desk working – having a strong upper body helps to reduce the chances of pain from desk based work. Reduced step counts due to home working are inevitable – and steps are a great way to condition the lower limbs and keep your joints happy – as well as controlling your calorie balance for the day.
Considering all of this – let’s take a look at what we can do this time round to get things right!
1. Get the Right Equipment
We spoke about this in a previous blog – but it still rings true.
You only need 3 things to have a half decent working setup. A mouse, keyboard and a laptop stand. These 3 things can help to protect and limit the amount of problems that you will develop in the neck and shoulder regions.
A handy tip for keyboard and mouse use – do not place them too far away from you. Pull your seat in close and have your elbow joints in line with your shoulders – this prevents over reaching.
Next on the equipment list is a seat. Not everyone can have an office seat at home – if you can, great. Failing that, make sure your seat has you sitting at the right level and has something to support your lower back and upper back.
It’s tempting to take Zoom meetings from your bed – but you don’t want to do that all the time!
Your back won’t thank you….
2. Have 2 Workstations
We’ve just advised on the best sitting setup – but having a standing setup is strongly advised.
The reason for this is top give your body the variety it needs. Too much of anything is bad for the body.
Sitting for too long places pressure on the spinal discs, keeps your spinal joints in the same position and contributes to the weakening of the posterior chain (muscles that sit on the back half of your body).
Standing working is ideal for your body – in short periods, mixed with sitting. We suggest 30 minutes of sitting and 30 minutes of standing per hour.
You can do this by standing at your kitchen bench and using boxes/stands to raise your computer to a good level or if you have a Vari-Desk or sit to stand desk – this is even better!
3. Important Exercises
We need to take extra care of the areas of the body that are being used less or can be subjected to different forces during home working.
A good place to start is the lower back. Work on mobility exercises which loosen the joints and prevent them from stiffening up during the course of the day from being in fixed positions.
Next up is the neck and shoulders. Strengthening the neck can often be neglected but it shouldn’t be. Performing simple isometric holds for the neck and also shoulder press type exercises helps to keep the neck and shoulders resilient to change.
Last but not least – the posterior chain needs to be worked. Adding strength exercises at home for the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves is a great way to help keep you in great condition.
We are going to place some of our favourite exercises through the blog for you to use as inspiration – and hopefully this helps you to avoid injury.
Alternate Heel Kicks Jogging
Jogging with High Knees
Sit Up Crunch
Hip Mobility In and Out
Leg Swing Side
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