Has lockdown influenced what types of injuries we as physiotherapists see in clinic?
As a physiotherapist at Central Health, one of the best things about my job is the diversity of injuries I see each day. This is often influenced by the sporting events calendar or the annual seasons.
The restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year has had an influence on the type of injures me and my team are currently seeing in our physiotherapy clinic.
The last year has changed the way many of us are working and exercising.
Why are we seeing an increase in spinal pain?
- Commuting time has reduced, resulting in less physical activity getting to your place of work.
- Whilst working from home most tasks require the use of your laptop or PC. This limits activity levels such has walking to speak to colleagues or attending meetings.
- Working longer hours at home due to no commute time.
- The workstation at home may not be as well set up as it is in your office, due to lack of equipment.
- Reduction of activity levels due to gym closures and restrictions on group exercise classes.
What we do know is that the more sedentary you are, the greater the likelihood of you developing back or neck pain. This has been evident in many of the patients we are seeing, especially those you have been working from home. Back and neck injuries are extremely common in our clinics but there is an obvious rise in these numbers. The good thing is recovery times can often be quick. So in just a brief period with the correct advice and treatment, symptoms can significantly improve.
Does exercise play a part?
Whilst gyms and group fitness classes have been closed, many people have taken up other forms of exercise to improve their physical fitness during lockdown.
- Running has been quite popular as a new hobby or regular runners have been running more than usual! Due to this we have seen a rise in knee pain and other lower-limb overuse injuries. Whilst running is very safe for your knees it is common to pick up injuries if you are new to it. Also, if your running frequency or training volume is too high.
- Others have taken up online HIIT workouts or home-based strengthening programmes which they are not used to. This is often without the guidance of a trained professional. This can be a recipe for disaster if you are following intense of heavy workouts with poor technique.
All of the Physiotherapists at Central Health have a wealth of experience managing the injuries discussed above. So far, our role has not changed during these unprecedented times. Albeit we deliver our services slightly differently (with lots of PPE). Our aim is to get you on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
Five top tips for covid injury prevention
If you are somebody who has had to work from home or changed your exercise or training regime, here are my five top tips for injury prevention:
- When working from home at your PC or laptop, move or change position regularly even if it is just for a few seconds. Stand up and sit down and add in a few stretches for you back and neck. Try to do this every hour. If you need inspiration, my colleague Aisling developed a great 3-minute stretching routine for desk-workers. You can view this here… https://youtu.be/WK47l65fB3U
- Check your workstation set up. There are lots of useful resources online to help you with the basics and if you are struggling, why not book in for a zoom workstation assessment with one of the CHP team.
- If starting a new exercise regime ease yourself in to it slowly over a matter of 4-6 weeks.
- Non training days are just as important as training days so make sure you factor these in. I would recommend at least two rest days per week.
- You can do too much of a good thing, so ensure there is variety in your exercise routine.