It’s been over a month since COVID-19 compelled us to stay indoors and changed our daily routines. Some of us might have more time on our hands. Some might be tackling odd jobs and chores around the house – DIY projects like building furniture, lifting heavy stuff, fixing cars or appliances, etc. Some might take to indoor exercise, given the restrictions on the use of public spaces such as gyms.
The result – injuries which cannot be treated by doctors immediately because of the pandemic, unless it is an absolute emergency. Reports from around the world show that there is an increase in injuries related to the usage of power tools, like lawnmowers and chainsaws, and even bikes. Add to this the fact that we are working from home and may not have the right set-up or dedicated desks to sit at for hours. Typing at the kitchen table or coffee table could strain our back and neck muscles, and bad posture for days could lead to severe injuries. How can we then manage ourselves well during this time, to avoid injuries and visits to the doctors/ hospitals?
- Don’t over-exercise. The luxury of time prompts us to consider our fitness. And plenty of resources are available online, right from yoga guides, to HIIT sessions, to even exercise programs for specific muscle groups/ body parts. But, Dr Matthew Jackson, at Liverpool Hope University, argues that anyone taking up exercise the first time, or after a long break, needs to be mindful about painful injuries. He encourages people to stay active during this period but not “go hell for leather with their training” as that can create stress for the body, making it more vulnerable to invasive pathogens.
What is recommended? Says Jackson, “Lower intensity, moderate exercise is usually okay. But if you’re doing something more vigorous, you’re more exposed to injury. If you’re just starting out running for example, stick to three times a week, with sessions of 30-45 minutes. Low-level activity like walking can be done more frequently, five days a week – but factor in at least one full rest day.” If exercising outdoors, choose an open space close to where you stay and avoid unnecessary movement. Follow social distancing and hygiene practices strictly.
- Change postures. Working at a desk and changing our position often is recommended when at the office. It’s a healthy practice to continue even when working from home. Professor Alan Hedge, from Cornell University, an expert on ergonomics, recommends getting up to stand and stretch every 20 minutes. Here are a few stretches that can help:
- Get up from your desk and do 3-4 slow bends, where you touch your toes with your fingers. Slowly roll up and stretch your hands above your head.
- Do spinal twists, where you stand still in a place, and twist your body first to the left and then to the right. On each side, hold the twist for 10 seconds and come back to the center.
- If you have been staring down at your laptop, find a way to raise the screen to your eye level with a laptop raiser or some books. Then practice rolling your neck from left to right and vice versa, slowly.
Watching the social media trends and the calls we have received from our clients, we notice that the above two categories are the two major areas of concern right now. Basic practices can go a long way in avoiding injury. Stay safe and stay healthy. Don’t forget to follow medical and government advisories regarding COVID-19 to emerge stronger from the pandemic.