By Gavin Burt, Founder & Clinic Director of Backs & Beyond
For the first time in our 14-year history, last month Backs & Beyond opened a ‘Virtual Clinic’ in response to the pandemic – and so far we’ve treated nearly 100 patients!
So what are the most common injuries we’re facing in the current lockdown? And, more to the point, how can you avoid them?
You’re very welcome at our clinic. We’re running it twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays between 2pm and 5pm. It’s a FREE service and can include remote assessment and diagnosis of your problem as best as we can provide, along with our advice to help improve your problem. All from the safety of your own home.
Of the dozens of people I’ve seen so far who’ve suffered joint or muscle problems during the Coronavirus stay-home, their problems are falling into three main categories: lower back, neck and hips.
I thought it might help if I shared my ‘Virtual Clinic’ experiences and explained why I think this is happening and how you can hopefully safeguard yourself against picking up a similar injury yourself.
Here are the three problem areas and my brief advice on how to stay well:
1. LOWER BACKS
With everyone spending so much more time at home right now, we’re all putting our backs into cleaning up and throwing out unneeded clutter, so I’m seeing a lot of lifting injuries.
People are shifting books and suitcases, crockery and furniture in quantities they don’t usually. Then they’re lifting the children more often, too, as our kids all have cabin fever.
Runners are suffering lower-back problems right now as a lot of us, knowing we’re restricted to one exercise trip outdoors per day, are jogging a little longer than normal. We’ve got more time on our hands, as none of us are commuting to work.
Gavin’s Top Tip 1: Always think before you lift – rather than regret you forgot to afterwards.
Gavin’s Top Tip 2: Do it in small amounts. You’ve plenty of time and you’re not in a hurry. Don’t rush.
Under normal working conditions, Britain’s 10 million office workers have the benefit of a professionally set-up workstation. Many of us rely on this in our business life.
But now we’ve been asked by our employers to work from home, we’ve set up our first ‘Home Office’. This means sitting at the dining table, lounging on the sofa (or in bed!) with our laptop – and our neck is an early casualty.
If you’d like a free online assessment of how to set up working at home without risking injury to your back, I’d gladly recommend consulting health ergonomist Nichola Adams who is an expert workstation assessor. Through her company Inspired Ergonomics, Nichola advises companies on how to minimise the risk of back injury in the workforce. Here’s a video I made with Nichola: https://youtu.be/uOQ7Gm5VPv4
Gavin’s Top Tip 1: Go for a walk before you sit at your desk. It’s a warm-up replacing your commute.
Gavin’s Top Tip 2: Every 30 minutes, stretch back over your chair, as this counteracts the slouch.
Because our opportunities to take exercise outdoors are currently being restricted, once we do get out, we tend to stay out for as long as possible.
This means we are jogging for longer, and because some of you who aren’t used to long runs are running a bit too much, I’m seeing a lot of hip injuries, tight muscles and tendons and sore joints.
The secret, as with lifting heavy objects like suitcases and children, is not to overdo things. Take it gently and this is especially important at a time when we are all cooped up indoors.
Gavin’s Top Tip 1: Stretch, stretch, stretch. You don’t need to before your run, but do so afterwards.
Gavin’s Top Tip 2: Massage the muscles around your hips using a tennis ball leaning against a wall.
Take care and stay well.
· As a business, we felt it’s really important during these troubled times to support you – and also our health workers on the frontline. Our warm thanks those of you who’ve already donated and if you’d like to, thanks also for any help you feel able to give the British Red Cross Society Coronavirus Appeal via our Just Giving fundraising page: https://bit.ly/2V9eEHE
To book an appointment at our free virtual clinic please email now on firstname.lastname@example.org
One small last request: please can you ask everyone to follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/backsandbeyond/) and Twitter (@backsandbeyond) Thanks! Gavin.