We hope you are well and surviving this extended lockdown period.
Unfortunately, for everyone’s health with this Delta strain of COVID we have to be really careful and seeing as most of Sydney is stuck at home, I just thought that today with everything that is going on I would send out my “6 Physio Tips To Survive Sydney’s Lockdown”.
As an essential service our clinic does remain open and in our new location (Corner of Lyons Road West and East Street) we are able to spread out over 2 levels which has come at a really good time as we socially distance our patients that are coming in for physio and rehabilitation using our equipment and the Pilates reformer. We are also doing some telehealth sessions and running an online Zoom Pilates class which is great for those unable to come in.
With so many people either off work or working and studying from home, we have seen a spike in patients presenting to us with neck and back pain, so rather than sitting in your un-comfy chair for 8 hours+ a day waiting for back or neck pain to pounce, a pre-emptive strike is required! Hopefully these tips will help you make some subtle changes to your daily routine to help avoid pain during this lock down period.
1. Keep moving
Move throughout the day as much as possible. This can be as simple as getting up from your chair regularly and doing a stretch but even more important than this is getting in more general or incidental activity. Granted this can be difficult in the cold of winter, but it’s still very doable. Us physio’s love measuring everything as we know that “what gets measured, gets improved”. If you have a smart watch or a phone that tracks steps and activity levels why not wear it and make a note of your averages and then try and beat it every week, slowly increasing your activity levels. These watches can also be helpful if you tend to “overdo it” also helping you track how much is too much activity.
2. CHANGE POSITION
Monitoring your posture is important. If you sit all slouched up then that’s normally less than ideal, but likewise if your spine is extended all day through excessive standing or leaning backwards and you can’t bend then that also isn’t great. In an ideal world I’d advise people to have multiple workstations so if you work/study from home, perhaps a sitting workstation and a standing workstation would work. I know some patients use their breakfast bench for the stand-up workstation which seems to work well. In an ideal world we should spend 30 minutes to an hour at one workstation before switching to avoid being in the exact same position for a long time. If this is not feasible, then I’d like you to make an effort to get up out of your seat at every opportunity to expose your body to a different stimulus. We know through research that we start to slump after sitting for longer than 20 minutes, so take this as an opportunity to stand up, and then reset your posture as you sit down. Every time you take a phone call you could get up and walk, or even make a point of having a glass of water you that need to refill every hour, this typically results in more toilet breaks too which can count as breaks also 😊
3. Look at your ergonomic set up
Not everyone has a home office or designated workstation and so I know with home-schooling and working from home many people are fighting not only for technology but somewhere to sit to do what they have to do. When using laptops it’s advised that we get a stand so that the screen is at eye level and also plug in a mouse and keyboard. This will help with improving sitting posture taking stress of your neck and back. If you jump online there are heaps of laptop stands available I recently got some delivered from Kogan for the new clinic but saw some good ones at Officeworks online also. If your budget is a bit tighter at the moment you could even place your laptop up on some books or a box to get the ideal level.
4. Exercise regularly
I know I already suggested that you move more but this kind of exercise is a bit different. With this I’m suggesting scheduled exercise time in your day so that you actively raise your heart rate and expose your body to some harder work. This could be something you do in your backyard or your lounge room like a HIIT workout or an online Pilates session, or something out in nature like a bike ride or a run. You could even make it fun with the kids and jump on the trampoline if you have one. Aim to do this type of exercise raising your heart rate 3 times a week and make sure it’s something that you like and enjoy!
If this isn’t something you normally do try and experiment with different activities and stick to what you enjoy. My wife recently found some local bushwalks not far from home and is enjoying these every couple of days. I’ve also found that if you get out the diary and schedule specific times in your week for exercise this can work well, as it encourages accountability making it a lot easier.
5. Look after your mental health
Mental health is probably one of the most important factors during lockdown as we don’t have our normal routines or our normal social connections like visiting family and friends or those simple water cooler conversations at work. As a Physio I’m not specifically trained to help people with this, so please, if you are struggling, I advise that you seek help from a trained professional or even simply call a helpline like the NSW Government Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.
In saying this though, there are many things that can typically help with our mental health. Some things that help me to keep a clear head are firstly planning out how my day is going to look and then setting mini goals and putting in place routines so that the day runs smoothly. This even works for a relaxing Sunday, thinking about what food to make, what shows to watch, when I’m going to exercise and what time I might have that lazy day nap 😊
Make sure you do things you enjoy during lockdown! Schedule in time that’s just for you, doing things that you love and receive fulfilment from.
Although might not be able to visit them in person it is important to make time for loved ones! We’re so lucky in this age to have the likes of Zoom, skype, facetime, and WhatsApp to name a few… they’re all amazing ways to keep in touch with our friends and family, not to mention the old-fashioned phone call. Some of my patients said that they are still having Friday drinks with their work colleagues over zoom, and I also have some friends that decided to play poker using technology and zoom also.
Sleep can be a really important factor of mental wellbeing also. Try and aim for 8 hours a night and do what you can to give yourself the best opportunity to achieve this, such as no caffeine after 1pm, no bright lights after 9pm, set a time limit on Netflix binging and invest in a good mattress and pillow.
Unfortunately, you’re also far more likely to injure yourself if you’re stressed, not well rested and not feeling yourself.
6. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
It is really important that we listen to what our body is telling us. A lot of us struggle with this (myself included) at times. Evaluate yourself each day. This goes for mental health but it’s also really important when it comes to our muscles, joints and our pain tolerance levels. Too many people push through pain to reach accomplish a task and then pay the price of more pain and injury. Each day assess your energy levels and whether you feel tight or sore. Chances are if you’re not feeling the best then you need to do more to unwind, de-stress or maybe you just need to alter how much activity you do that day so that you don’t end up in pain. This information can be helpful to alter or break up your activity levels, so that you don’t overload your body. Conversely, if you’re feeling happy, energetic and supple then it might be a great day to smash that workout out or push yourself a little bit harder!
Hopefully these 6 Physio Tips To Survive Sydney’s Lockdown help you whilst you’re locked down. If you are struggling with pain or an injury we are still operating and able to help you, so don’t put your health off, as most injuries either don’t fully recover or simply get worse when not managed and are then much more difficult to fix. As I mentioned our clinic continues to be open as we are an essential service and we are operating with COVIDsafe protocols in place including:
- Mask wearing which is mandatory for all patients and staff whilst in the practice.
- Hand Sanitisers provided at the entrance of the practice and distributed throughout the clinic.
- QR check in codes for all patients and everyone entering the clinic.
- Appropriate social distancing within the practice which we now can do over 2 levels, and we also have private treatment rooms when required
- Cleaning every bed as well as every piece of equipment throughout the day and of course after every use.
- To prevent overcrowding in the clinic, we are also asking patients to come to appointments alone (expect for guardians or carers) so that we can minimise extra people both in the practice and in the waiting area
Please stay safe during these difficult times. If you need anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the clinic.