Matthew McArdle, our resident physiotherapist and musculoskeletal health and injury rehab expert, discusses the topic of Change and how to cope as we move into 2021.
Top Stat: Nearly half (46.6%) of all those in employment did at least some work at home the following month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
“2020 was a strange year for us all with lots of strange things to deal with. Going in to 2021 it appears that these times are not over yet and, going forwards, are likely to continue for some time to come.
“And one of the big changes for a lot of people this year has been the need to work from home. Laptops on dining tables, spreadsheets completed on the sofa, Zoom calls in the bedroom, Google classroom for the kids and so on. For many people it is a totally new way of working and one, I personally believe, will continue in one way or another well into the future.
“So, home working is something that will continue to be a big part of a lot of people lives. And along with the advantages and benefits this can bring, it also brings with it a host of other issues. From my point of view, as a physio and movement specialist, this is particularly true of musculoskeletal issues such as back pain and shoulder pain.
“So how do we minimise this as an issue? What precautions can we take to ensure this change doesn’t cause us short- and long-term issues?
Avoid being in one position for too long. –
“Well the first thing we need to remember is that we are designed to move, or at the very least not be stuck in one position for 8 hours at a time. That means if you’re working at home you must avoid sitting down at your laptop at 8.00am and not moving again until 6.00pm. I know it happens because I see these people on my treatment table and dropping into my inbox.
“So that’s the first thing you need to ensure. You are moving. Regularly.
“Take phone calls stood up when you can. Invest in a standing desk, some of them even convert from sitting to standing so you can mix it up. Alternatively you can get stands that sit on top of your desk/table to convert it to a standing desk. That means you can avoid being in one position for too long.
“The next thing you need to look at is how your workstation is set up. Is your screen at the right height or are you bending over to see your work? If you’re working with a laptop, can you get a second screen to allow you to view it at a more optimum position? If your workplace can’t provide you with one then it’s worth investing in one, it would work out cheaper than a course of physiotherapy.
“How many of us are guilty of this? Whether it’s work or scrolling through our social media, we’ve all done it to some extent. Although we may find it convenient and even comfortable at the time, it’s potentially storing up a whole load of problems for us going forwards.
Get active outside working hours. –
“Avoid the temptation to work on your sofa, for any more than a few minutes at least. Best case scenario, you will be unproductive and feel sluggish. Worst case scenario, you’ll get up with a sore lower back. Longer term, however, you’re more likely to start to suffer with upper back, neck and shoulder issues. And in my experience, these can be more problematic to solve.
“The next thing you can do, and probably the most essential, is get active outside working hours. That means get your daily steps in for one, not always fun with the weather that we’ve been experiencing recently. Try and get involved in some online training, there are so many different accounts out there, many are free, so there’s something for everyone out there. Maybe try something a little different. During the first lockdown I found a Yoga channel on YouTube that I really liked and I’ve carried on with that, definitely feel the benefit. What you must not do is allow yourself to become inactive, this combined with poor working habits is a recipe for pain and discomfort.
“Until next time, take care of yourselves,
Matthew McArdle MA BSc(Hons)