It is no secret that since the onset of the pandemic, our daily routines have changed drastically.
Pre-pandemic, we would leave the house in the morning, rush around most of the day, sit at desks with proper equipment recommended by a physiotherapist or specialist and go to gyms for a workout. With the majority of individuals working from home at the moment, it takes much more effort to get those 5 to 10 thousand steps in a day. Something that was so automatic with the walk to the subway, stroll to the water cooler, scheduled lunch breaks, running errands, and picking up the kids. The step counts are now bleak if the effort is not made to leave the house for a walk. Leaving muscles sore, tight and quite frankly de-activated.
The other aspect of working from home is the issue of desk ergonomics. While research indicates there is no perfect posture; evidence suggests that changing postures often helps reduce joint and muscle aches that individuals may experience with prolonged desk work. Furthermore, pre-pandemic many individuals had ergonomic desk set-ups with multiple monitors, adjustable sit-stand desks and ergonomic chairs. Currently, with the realization that home office work is here to stay, the dining room table set-up is leading to increased pain in the back, neck and extremities.
How a Physiotherapist Can Help
With the evolution of virtual physiotherapy appointments, the physiotherapist now has the advantage of assessing your work from home posture, desk and work station set-up. The physiotherapist can observe you sitting and typing at your desk and identify areas of improvement. Whether it be changing your seat height, monitor position or recommending other equipment that could improve the work station. The physiotherapist can also design an exercise program to target the areas of your body that are stiff and sore. Furthermore, they can provide exercise guidance to help strengthen your core and postural muscles, as well as increasing your activity throughout the day.
Here are some additional tips to help ease work from home discomfort and inactivity:
- Schedule walk breaks throughout the day and put them in your calendar. For instance: 3 x 10 minute walks per day
- Walking conference calls: if there are calls that require less contribution, consider going for a walk while listening to the call
- Add a stretch reminder to your computer, watch or phone. For instance, stretch every 45 minutes
- Obtain stretches from a CAMPT- certified physiotherapist that are tailored to your needs
- Keep hydrated. This helps reduce muscle and joint stiffness
- Go outside. Research shows that being in nature, even for a short duration, helps to reduce stress.
- Consider having two workstations to change positions throughout the day. Set up a stand-up station at the kitchen counter and a sit station at a proper desk
- Practice deep breathing for stress relief. Breathe in through your nose allowing your rib cage to expand and out through your mouth – take 10 deep breaths 3 times a day. This is beneficial for improving oxygen levels in your muscles as well as for stress relief.
If you are experiencing posture-related neck, shoulder, back pain, stiffness and or weakness, a CAMPT-certified physiotherapist can help by performing a thorough assessment identifying the areas contributing your pain. The assessment and treatment can be performed in-person and in most cases virtually to provide you with a convenient, comprehensive treatment plan addressing your goals. Return to your pre-pandemic level of activity and mobility with helpful treatment plans from a CAMPT-certified physiotherapist.
About Melanie Gordon
Melanie is the Physiotherapy Practice Lead at the Dovigi Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto as well as the owner of mgphysio. She offers virtual and In-home physiotherapy appointments to clients in the West-End of Toronto. Melanie integrates manual therapy as well as rehabilitative pilates and dry needling into her treatment plans. She enjoys helping clients regain movement and reach their goals. Follow Melanie on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.