Staying Healthy During Lockdown – An Osteopath Approach

Staying Healthy During lockdown

Staying healthy during lockdown has proved to be challenging for some. And as Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions drag on for longer and longer. We are seeing more and more people suffering from the same pain and irritation. Shoulder pain, Neck Pain, Headaches, and postural pain are just a few of the conditions we are seeing. Below we share some of the frequently asked questions surrounding staying healthy at home during a lockdown. We hope that these help the wider community stay healthy and pain-free.

If you have a question you would like us to answer, please feel free to email us at [email protected]

 

neck painQuestion: I’m suffering constant Upper Back / Neck Pain while working from home. How can I Stay Healthy During Lockdown? 

Sadly, working from home is now ‘the normal” for so long we as health practitioners have advocated for correct ergonomics while at our desks at work. We advised, sit to stand desk, new chairs, bigger monitors and the list goes on and on. Now, we are expecting our workforce to work from home -without these aids, that have helped keep pain at bay for so long. So it’s no wonder you are feeling sore. It’s always going to be tough to replicate your workstation at the office. But there are a number of different things we can do to maximise what you have at home.

 

Our Recommendation:

  • Opt for a dining chair with a high back, rather than sitting on the couch, your bed, or kitchen stool.
  • Lifting your monitor height at eye level. Laptop / iPad and small screens encourage a lot of neck flexion – which can lead to neck and shoulder pain. Lifting the laptop ( using a monitor riser) or a stack of books helps. An external keyboard will also help keep your arms at the correct level.
  • Using a Lumbar support to encourage lower back support. A rolled-up towel, or cushion will do a great job.
  • Use a headset or speaker phone rather than cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder when talking
  • Move positions often. Set an alarm to go off every 45 mins and get up and move.
  • Try standing for zoom meetings.
  • Walk around while talking on the phone.

This is our GOLD STANDARD for an ergonomically sound desk set up –  Click here

 

Shoulder PainQuestion: Why Does My Shoulder Hurt When Doing Push-Ups?

During Lockdown we have seen a number of Push up challenges – which have lead to pain. Although push-ups can be a nice bodyweight exercise when performed with good form, they predominantly work the muscles on the front of your arms and shoulders.  This can negatively impact the posture of your shoulder, pulling your shoulders into a more forward position over time, when done in isolation.

 

Our Recommendation:

It may be beneficial for you to begin a few exercises that work the muscles of the back of the shoulder. These may include exercises such as a row exercise or a Lat Pull down to improve muscle balance.

Increases in activity level can contribute to pain if the demand on the tissue exceeds the tissue’s ability to recover and repair. I would recommend taking a few rest days from push-ups and yoga to allow the shoulder to recover from the demands of your increased activity.

Here are 2 great exercises to start strengthening your Shoulder complex:


Please keep in mind these should be performed without any pain or irritation. If they do cause pain, please consult your health care practitioner. Staying healthy during lockdown IS possible!

Question: Why is my hip aching while I run/walk? 

With gyms closed, and limited time for exercise we have seen a large number of people start running or walking in an attempt to stay active. The problem with this is the dramatic increase in load or demand placed on the body. “Too much too soon, after doing too little for too long”. When we start running or walking significantly more than we normally would, this can lead to an injury/irritation. Often it’s the tendons and muscles around the hip and thigh area that are affected. The repetitive movement of walking/ running can also lead to swelling and tenderness in the joints, which results in pain and discomfort.

Our Recommendation: 

I would recommend taking a few rest days from running to allow the hips to recover from the demands of your increased activity.  Poor technique and/or muscle imbalances can also lead to hip pain when running. This will cause an imbalance and strain on the muscles of the leg. An appropriate hip and core strengthening regimen can help resolve this.

Start incorporating these great stability exercises into your program.

These simple yet effective exercises can be incorporated into your fitness routine. Start off slowly, ensuring quality movement, control and activation.

Question: How Do I Stay Motivated During Lockdown? 

Maintaining motivation is tough as we are so uncertain when restrictions will ease. BUT, there are aspects in our life which we can control to help us stay motivated and succeed with reaching your goals. Creating healthy habits are essential;

Our Recommendations:

  • Routine is the key to motivation. A regular wake-up time. Diarise your exercise time, Lunch breaks, and finish times. Working from home can blur the lines between work life and home life.
  • Changing clothes and going for a walk. This simple action breaks up the day – and switches the brain from “work” to “home”
  • Switch off. Take a break from screens / social media / mainstream media. Get out and go for a walk.
  • Don’t fight your emotions. It’s OK to NOT BE OK. Embrace your emotions. Be vulnerable. Speak openly to your family and friends. By acknowledging your emotions you may find you are not alone with these feelings.
  • Set small realistic goals. Write a checklist. Neuroscience tells us that each small success triggers the brain’s rewards center, releasing our “feel good” chemical, dopamine. So set yourself up to feel good and reach more small SMART goals.

Question: Why Does My Low Back Hurt During Sit-Ups? 

Those without access to gym equipment during these lockdowns have generally opted towards “bodyweight” exercises. And the Sit up has been a go-to exercise for so many. Traditional sit-ups use more of the hip flexor muscle than the actual Rectus Abdominis ( the ‘six pack’ muscle). The hip flexors attach from the front of the thigh bones and lower back (lumbar spine). Overuse of this muscle can create an anterior (forward) pull on the lumbar spine, which might be the reason for the lower back discomfort.

Another reason for low-back soreness, while doing sit up’s might be the fact that doing sit-ups on the hard floor pushes the spine into a hard surface, which could cause additional pressure on the posterior portion (back part) of the spine.

Our Recommendation:

Consider selecting other exercises that use muscles on both the front and back sides of the core. If sit-ups feel fine for your body, keep up the great work! However, for some individuals that are experiencing discomfort in the low back, here are some other exercises that can strengthen the core:


When your back feels stronger, and you would like to attempt some sit-ups again, try using a stability ball. A stability ball provides support for the curvature of the lumbar spine and allows for full range of motion. It also helps by reducing the pressure on the low back that is created when flexing the spine on a hard surface.

Question: How Many Steps Should I do Per Day? 

For some reason, there has been a magical number of achieving 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy! Where did this come from? And is it essential I achieve 10,000? The answer is – IT DEPENDS!

Our Recommendation:

It depends on the individual and their goals. As a general guideline, we recommend tracking minutes of exercise rather than steps. The Australian Guideline states that adults should be active most days, preferably every day. Each week, adults should do either:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk
  • 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity physical activity
  • An equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities

The easiest thing to do while we’re in lockdown is to make sure we’re fulfilling our 25-30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. This could be done as simply as going for a brisk walk. This involves walking at a pace where you feel that holding a conversation may be a little challenging. It’s a great way to get out of the house, get some sun, and get your whole body moving.

A home-based circuit / HIIT (high-intensity workout) for 20-30 minutes can also help you achieve these 25-30minutes. We advise choosing an activity that you ENJOY! This way rather than it feeling like a chore to stay healthy you will enjoy it! As above, set a SMART goal around your movement. Exercise with a friend or a partner to stay more accountable! And ease into your program. We have seen far too often injuries occurring because people have done… Too much, too soon, while doing too little for too long!

Summary:

These were our most asked questions around staying healthy during lockdown. We are more than happy to help answer your specific question. If it is going to help you stay more active and come out of these lockdown measures, healthy and pain-free.

Equilibrium Sports and Spine Clinic is your local provider of osteopathy services. We offer a wide range of Osteopathy treatments to the communities surrounding Glen Iris, Malvern, Hawthorn, Caulfield, Ashburton Camberwell Kooyong South Yarra Toorak. Take care of all your sports injuries by booking an appointment today!

 

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Your comprehensive guide that covers everything from the basics of back pain to tips for keeping your spine healthy.