In the second article from Matt Bergin around this unique lockdown situation, the physiotherapist talks about posture and working from home. 

Keep it moving

COVID-19 and lockdown has forced a huge number of businesses to shut up shop, and with the reliance now on employees to work a normal 9-5 whilst sitting crumpled up at their dining room tables it is hardly surprising that people are starting to get sore necks and backs.

Add into the mix those slumped on the sofa self-isolating or living the furlough life churning out episode after episode on Netflix and the result is a lot of painful necks, stiff backs, tight chests and crackly coughs – for those recovering from illness.

One way Witty, Pask & Buckingham have adapted is by offering video consultations for those who are in need of expert advice. One particular service is a Zoom consultation around your posture and working from home set-up.

Leaving athletes more vulnerable

Simply put, the body does not like static postures, especially sitting. Movement is the key to keeping joints, especially those in the back, well oiled.

Prolonged postures will lead to one of two things; stiffness or weakness, or both, which will subsequently cause you pain, dysfunction and leave you vulnerable to strains and sprains.

Not only this, but in the case of the upper back, chest, and ribs it will make keeping your lungs and airways clear much, much harder…..which might be why you are still feeling a bit out of breath.

Here are out top tips to avoiding the lockdown aches and pains.

The Sofa Slumper

  • Every 20-30 minutes get up, go to the loo, drink some water, walk up and down the stairs a few times. 
  • Reach your arms above your head and lean back over your chair (avoiding falling off ideally) and reverse the position you have been in.
  • Front of the hip – it is essential to stretch this out. Tightness here leads to you tipping your pelvis forward and your lower back becoming stiff, 
    • Stand up. Take a step forwards so you are in a stride position.
      Tighten in the tummy muscles and lean into the front leg to feel the stretch through the front of the hip (back leg). If balance allows you reach up above your head.
      Hold for 30 seconds, swap legs.
      Perform 3x

Working From Home 

Setup is key. Good posture is not about forcing yourself to sit bolt upright and hold yourself tense.

  • Make sure you are close to the keyboard, so that you are not overreaching
  • Get a chair which can go under the table/desk, so your tummy is touching the desk. This allows you to sit back against the back of the chair and relax.
  • If using a laptop bring it near you so that you don’t have to lean or reach for the keys and use books to raise the level of the screen to eye level.
  • Similarly, if using a desktop PC ensure the keyboard is close to you and monitor at eye level so you are not forced to slump forward to look at the screen.

Why is this important?

Upper back and rib cage pain is tough and slumping for hours while holding yourself up with those muscles is painful. It can also lead to the classic ‘chin poke’ posture which compresses your neck and will give you neck and shoulder pain, as well as headaches.

We all just have to ensure we are all doing the small things right to prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed with really sick people.

Just do as you are asked. Follow the guidelines, stay safe, look after the vulnerable, and don’t think it doesn’t apply to you….it does. Don’t be that idiot.

Together we will beat this.

Matt Bergin and Mark Buckingham are both chartered physiotherapists at Witty, Pask and Buckingham. For more information on both, or the clinic as a whole, click here. They are still able to offer video consultations within the current situation.