It is estimated that about 4 million Australians (16% of the total population) are living with daily back pain and that 70-90% of people will suffer from some form of back pain at some point in their lives.

But WHY have we as physiotherapists seen an increase in these numbers more recently?

Correct… Another thing we can blame on COVID-19.

Below I have discussed the key reasons for this increase:

Importance of your workstation

Moving to your home environment means a sharp change to your desk and workstation setup. For some, this even means working at your dining room table (tut, tut). When these workstation, or ergonomic setups are downgraded our posture suffers and our backs and necks begin to ache in anger. As the days go on this pain then becomes a ‘problem’. Make sure you have your desk and computer at appropriate heights to avoid any prolonged slumped posture and ensure you have a properly supportive desk chair to give you all the lumbar and thoracic support you need. Speak to your employer if you are having difficulty with any of this. Doing daily neck and back exercises can help you feel more supported and stronger when working at a desk.

Let’s go for a run!

Another reason for this spike is due to an increase in runners hitting our roads. While running is a fantastic sport that is popular among amateurs and competitors alike, when your new to running you must take vital steps to avoid aggravating those lower limb tendons and lower backs:

1. Warm up with stretches, exercises and light jogging

2. Follow a plan and progress your running slowly, perhaps beginning with 1km at first, repeating this a few times over a fortnight before progressing

3. Wear appropriate and supportive footwear (not your old trainers you bought 3 years ago)

4. Do not overdo it, daily running (when a beginner) is not the answer

5. Cool down and involve some back stretches in this

Looking for a local running spot? Try Lilydale Lake and start with a run/walk ratio of 1min on/2min off to get you started as a beginner. Don’t be afraid to start with a fast walk either.

Does less exercise cause injury?

Similarly, a reduction in physical activity (including work) can have negative effects on the muscles of the spine and generally the whole body. If you were hitting the gym regularly and now do no or less exercise and strengthening, your body will feel the effects. Always remember, you are more susceptible to an injury if you jump back into exercise at the same intensity as before (for when those bouts of iso motivation kick in). Try and add in a form of daily exercise to your routine, be it a walk, a jog, a gentle circuit, a HIIT circuit or even, in the case of our golf fanatic colleague Ravi, air golf in the kitchen. If you are someone who normally goes to a Pilates or Yoga class, be sure to come and see us for an awesome at home workout to target the spine.

So all in all, while we love to have you in the clinic (and sometimes this is just what’s needed) be sure your working from home environment is set to the highest standard it can be and that you get your daily exercise routine in to keep those muscles strong and happy. We are here for when you get that balance wrong and need set on the best path for success with working from home.

Kind Regards

Annmarie Maguire