How to Treat the Most Common Aches and Pains Caused by Pandemic Life

Because everyone’s back is a total mess right now.

These past few months have proven to be extremely challenging for many, as we adapt to all the twists and turns of Covid-19. Keeping active has required some creative thinking — but the payoff is big. Fitness and nutrition are cornerstones for improving our immune system. The stronger we are on the inside, the more resilient we are in the fight against disease, mental health and injuries. (Here’s what working from home does to your body.)

The trend toward at-home workouts has benefited many, but it comes with its own risks. In our practice, we’ve seen a spike of injuries in 3 main areas:

  • Neck and shoulders
  • Hips and back
  • Chronic overuse injuries

(Related: 4 Ways to Perfect Your Form During At-Home Workouts)

Here are some simple tips to help protect yourself from these common injuries, aches and pains:

Neck & shoulders

We tend to hold a lot of tension in our upper body when we’re anxious. If you’re also logging too many hours hunched over a laptop, and then attempting an upper body strength routine, it can add up to a lot of strain in the neck and shoulders. Here’s how to minimize the pain:

  • Ensure that your computer setup is ergonomically sound and that you program 2- minute breaks of moving around for every 20 minutes of sitting.
  • Make sure your training program includes a lot of pulling exercises to improve your posture and upper back strength. A lot of at-home workouts are too heavily weighted toward push pattern movements (planks, push ups, burpees, etc.)
  • Take 5-15 minutes daily in a quiet room, void of all distractions, and breathe deeply to aid your parasympathetic nervous system and maintain calm.

Hips and back

Sitting with poor posture for long periods of time weakens the abdominal muscles, putting an added load on your hips and lower back. Remember to:

  • Use some of those 2-minute breaks to run on the spot, or walk briskly around your house – anything to get the circulation going in the legs.
  • Include more than just your favourite muscle groups when you’re working out. Popular moves like crunches, jump lunges and jump squats are great, of course, but they can be too much of a good thing. Work on your posture and your stabilizers as well. (Two great exercises to look up: The “Cobra” and the “Bird Dog”).
  • Balance out your body when exercising. The more symmetrical the hips and legs are, the less the lower back will take a hit.

(Related: What Is Dead Butt Syndrome? 6 Workout Moves That Help This Painful Condition)

Chronic overuse injuries

Chronic injuries, or repetitive strain injuries, can be crippling at times: Shin splints due to excessive walking; elbow pain from increased computer usage; shoulder stiffness and muscle pulls from doing more work around the house. Sound familiar?

For this group of injuries, prevention is really the best medicine. If you start to feel twinges of discomfort, seeking help from a professional (athletic therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, etc) before they become serious problems can go a long way.

Now that you know how to treat aches and pains from working from home, check out three easy ways to get moving during the pandemic.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada