Why you may feel more pain during quarantine and how to handle it!
Lets face it, 2020 so far has been a lot. You may notice your shoulders getting stiffer, your back aching more, or an old injury coming back to nag you more intensely. But why? The answer is that it may come from a number of things.
The first one is we are probably moving less. With the uncertainty of going to gyms and stores, shortened commutes, and working from home, it’s easy to spend more time being sedentary. Even if we kept up an exercise routine, 30-minutes of exercises doesn’t make up for all the microbreaks you would normally take throughout a typical work day. Walking to our car, walking into work, and walking to talk to a coworker, are all ways we would normally be moving throughout the day. So how do we offset this? The answer is simple, MOVE MORE! Get off the couch or computer every 30 minutes and take a lap around the house. Do some squats while on a call, go for a walk for lunch, or take a call while going for a walk. Any little movement counts.
New environments create new repetitive movements. Instead of sitting at your ergonomic desk at work, you may now be multitasking between taking calls, computer work, and watching your kids. When you change environments, you change what you’re consistently doing. Every few minutes you may be turning your neck and twisting your back to check in on your kid, or perhaps you’re now reaching to grab a phone that’s out of reach. These new patterns of repetitive movements can increase soreness. What's the solution? Try and pick out these new repetitive movements and change your environment to make them less repetitive. Maybe turn your desk to face the living room vs away, move your phone or printer, you are repeatedly reaching for, closer to your chair. Unsure where to start? Set-up an appointment today with one of our Ergonomic Assessment Specialists at Defy Therapy & Wellness to find out ways to improve your desk set-up and relieve your neck pain and back pain. We can help you improve your day to day activities and maintain your productivity while working under these new circumstances.
Additionally, stress is another reason you may be feeling more achy. With everything being so uncertain, your body may be in a chronically stressed state, and we can have a hard time reverting back into a resting healing state. This can lead to things like muscle aches, sleeplessness, immune system dysfunction, digestive dysfunction, and more. Over time this can cause havoc on our system and, after a few months of this chronic state, we may begin feeling the effects of it. Here are a few tips to help reduce stress:
Work on deep breathing - laying in a comfortable position with legs raised, work on taking deep diaphragmatic breaths, which can help stimulate your system that controls your resting/healing state of being
Seek out help - If you are struggling to cope with stress on your own, don’t wait until it becomes too much to handle. Reach out to us at Defy and we can assist in getting you to speak with the right people about what you are feeling.
Exercise! - 30 minutes of exercise can not only boost your mood, but can also improve those stiff muscles. Not sure what to do? We can help!
Stay connected - Write, call, and/or Facetime family and friends. Staying connected is very important, especially now. Here at Defy we are always here for you, even if you just need to chat to someone. Please reach out.
Another reason you may be in more pain is due to new stressors. Whether it is working from a different desk, running on pavement instead of using an elliptical, or participating in zoom yoga vs having an instructor guiding you in person, your routines and therefore what you repetitively do has changed. Your body needs time to adapt to new stressors and if suddenly you changed everything about how you move and the positions you find yourself in throughout the day, you may have not had enough time to allow your body to adapt. These changes in repetitive movements may have led to a poor adaptation response and therefore increased stiffness or pain. If you think any of these apply to you, it may be important to step back and see what you have changed extensively. From here you may need to reduce your activity and give your body time to adapt. It may be changing your desk set up, or scheduling a solo zoom session with a trainer to make sure you are moving and sitting the most efficient way possible.
If you are experiencing more pain now than you may have felt at the beginning of quarantine, we encourage you to reach out and let us help you try and thrive in this climate.
Written by Dr. Tara Becker, DPT, CEAS-I, Doctor of Physical Therapy at Defy Therapy & Wellness