at Reform Physiotherapy and Pilates Malahide
Over the last few weeks, we’ve all had to adjust how we go about our day. Some of us can no longer go to work, some of us are working more than ever. With all this sudden change to our lives including how we exercise, our stress levels and general routine, you may find you’re starting to experience discomfort or stiffness in your back. Changes to the above can all have an effect on how our body manages and perceives pain. Here are 5 tips that may help you manage your pain at the moment or help prevent it.
1. Move More
Our back and muscles around it are robust and strong structures although they may not always feel that way. One thing they love is movement. Even if you don’t realise it, you may be moving less than you had been before lockdown. Things such as getting up from your desk to go grab a coffee or walking around the classroom as you’re teaching, they all add up and help break up your sitting time. Try setting yourself a goal or reminder to get up and move every hour at home. Whether it’s walking around the house, doing some squats, or stretching out your lower back in your seat for a minute or two, it all counts towards getting you moving.
2. Structured Exercise
Gyms are closed, we have to stay within 2km of our house and for some of us, we’re not allowed out at all. On top of little movements throughout the day, set yourself aside 30 minutes a day to do a specific exercise. It could be a walk with the kids, a short bike ride, a run, pilates, yoga or your own stretching or exercises routine if you have one and the space to do so in your house. Change it up every day to give yourself variety. Do more if you’re used to doing more. Again, our muscles love movement. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re comfortable with the exercise you’ve chosen. i.e. Maybe now isn’t the best time to start doing YouTube high intensity workouts if you’ve never done anything like that previously. Which brings us on to point 3…..
3. Don’t over do it
As I mentioned in the point above, all this free time you may have may make you want to start something new e.g. get fitter or stronger. While our muscles and joints love moving, they also like when we gradually increase their moving and loading. If you’re starting to notice your back is feeling more achey than usual and you just painted the whole house, decided to tackle the garden or felt that Joe Wicks HIIT classes were your new past time, this could have an effect on how your back is feeling now. Remember to gradually do things. The whole house doesn’t need to be painted in a day. Take breaks, do a wall a day, break up the garden into segments or just make sure you’re doing exercise that your body is used to and you’re confident in your ability. If it’s different from what you’re used to doing, think about how you could mix in some stretches for your back throughout your day. Take a break in the YouTube class and bring your knees to your chest, stop the painting and do some cat stretches. You’ll get it all done in the end but maybe you won’t feel quite as uncomfortable afterwards.
4. Stress Management
You may find you’re more stressed with working from home, stressing over financials, or just stressing over the lockdown in general. All of this is completely normal and to be expected. What you may not realise is that stress can have a really big impact on how our body feels and especially our perception of pain. Make sure you’re taking time to relax every now and again. Don’t feel you have to be on top of everything all the time if you feel you’re exhausted and your back pain is coming back. Try some mindfulness, make a to-do list, talk to someone, or do some stretching for the whole body, moving your joints and back in ways that are pain free and comfortable.
5. Create Routine
With all of this in mind and how much each of our lives have changed, have a think about how you felt in your joints when you had a weekly or daily routine. It was probably better for helping with stress, exercise, movement, and sleep. Having a routine, whether you’re still working at the moment or not, will really help you manage pain and keep you feeling good.
● Include daily movement
● Try keep a sleep schedule
● Get out in the fresh air daily
● Do something relaxing
● Stretch daily!
Lastly, don’t let all of this get you down. If you feel like you’re not able to get a handle on your pain at the moment, book in for an online consult and get some individualised advice and help.
Roisin Carroll (Chartered Physiotherapist).