Saturday, January 2, 2021

Working From Home with Low Back Pain? Don't Fear! Here's What To Do.

As we move through these unprecedented times, we’re faced with new issues every day. These teething problems may include installing a hand-wash timer in the bathroom, packing the dishwasher more often, or planning meals further in advance than you normally would. One other problem that may not have caught your attention yet is back health. Working from home, and spending so much more time on the sofa or in bed, can wreak havoc on your back in the long term. It’s absolutely vital that you take care of your back and prevent low back pain from taking hold in your life. Luckily, we’re here to help. Take a look at some of these helpful tips to stave off low back pain and keep you fit and healthy as you tackle the other, non-physical issues around you.

Posture and Low Back Support

Low back health relies heavily upon the correct posture and low back support you employ throughout the day.  Posture may not be something you think about consciously, but it’s very important to start taking notice of the way you sit, stand, lie down, and relax on the sofa: the little things can make all the difference. 

Make sure you don’t slouch; keep you chin up and your shoulders aligned. 

Be aware of the support you give your lower back when you sit: roll up a towel, or use a small cushion to provide extra support in the small of your back. If you do this consistently, you’ll start noticing how much better your lower back responds to daily activity – you’ll mitigate any pain you may have experienced.

Chair Setup

Working from home in the COVID-19 era has changed the dynamics of the way we view our desks. Some people have a dedicated desk, while others use the kitchen table or even the coffee table in the living room! Things have changed drastically. At the end of the day, though, it’s incredibly important to make your ‘office’ as ergonomic as possible. In other words, the way you sit, and the chair you sit on, need to be supportive of back health. Make sure your chair is high enough to align the computer with your direct line of site. Make sure your chin doesn’t dip, that you don’t slouch, and that the chair offers you vital low back support. See the above tip regarding small towels or cushions. Your back will thank you!

Strengthening Exercises

You may not realize how important strengthening exercises are for the health of your lower back. Even less obvious is that your core muscles are actually vital in keeping your back pain free! Doing core exercises, that is, strengthening your core muscles safely over time, is one of the best ways to stave off low back pain well into the future. Why not try doing some Pilates or yoga routines to start working on your muscle strength? You can also contact a dedicated physical therapist to find out about what sort of exercises would benefit you the most.

Computer Layout

As I’ve mentioned, your office space setup is very important. If you’re working from a desktop, make sure your screen is high up enough to be aligned with your direct eye-line. Do not dip your chin or slouch. Make sure you have lower back support and always sit with your feet squarely on the ground, with your knees at a 90 or 100 degree angle. Do not lean forward – make sure the screen is close/far enough for you. If you’re working on a laptop, make sure you place it on a table and are able to follow the same tips outlined for a desktop set-up.

Working with a laptop on your lap means you may slouch and place pressure on your shoulders and low back – be sure to sit up straight in order to have a productive, pain free day.

Break time

Give yourself well deserved breaks: get up, stretch, move around, and get yourself out in the open air. Ideally, you want to stay at your computer for no longer than 50 minutes at a time – it’s very important to stay mobile throughout the day in order to avoid your lower back muscles from stiffening and seizing. Make the effort to get moving!


Stretching your muscles keeps them lubricated and supple, thereby allowing you to have pain free days! It’s very important that you spend time stretching your lower back muscles throughout the day, especially if you spend the majority of it at a desk. Contact a professional physical therapist for advice on where to begin and how to get into the swing of your very own stretching routine.

Keep Hydrated

Last, but certainly not least, is staying hydrated. Not drinking enough water can not only lead to muscle fatigue, but can actually hamper your overall cognition and health, too. Aim to drink at least 8, 8oz glasses of water a day, and make sure you incorporate some movement when you sip away!

Low back pain can be tricky to understand, and during these times it’s very difficult to know what to do and what not to do in order to stay away from it. Luckily, we’re here to help. Physical therapy is the safest, easiest, and most effective way of not only treating back pain, but of making sure you avoid it in the future. 

If you’re unsure about the types of stretches you need to be doing, what physical activities would best benefit your back health, how to set up your work space, or even about where to start with any of the tips in this post, then we invite you contact one of our dedicated, hands-on physical therapists right now. For advice you can trust, and information that will help you on the road to a healthier, pain free life, physical therapy is the answer. Why not contact us to book a complimentary, non-obligatory discovery visit, right now? We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Tips For Starting A New Exercise Routine

It is that time of the year again except we are living in the midst of a pandemic.  With 2020 now in the rear view mirror, we want to start the year off on the right foot with a renewed sense of hope that there will be an end to this altered "normal".  The exercise you swore you had more time for during 2020 since recouping your commute time by working from home, just didn't become the reality you thought it would.  That's ok.  It's been a long and trying year.  From honey do lists, to the distractions at home while trying to work, making sure the kids are engaged as they can be with virtual learning, not to mention the mental and emotional stress of what is going on in the world, it's understandable that getting exercise takes a back seat.

The good news is that new seasons mean new opportunities, but while these challenging new goals and habits offer an air of excitement, many people don’t take the time to listen to their bodies as they undertake new adventures.

The truth is, when it comes to starting a new exercise routine, many people feel as though it’s an impossible mountain to climb; this can happen even just a few short days into their new routine. And more often than not, people who dive straight into new and unfamiliar territory end up hurting themselves in the process. So, how should you approach a new exercise regime, and, what are the things to avoid? In other words, what are the do’s and do not’s of starting a new exercise routine?

What not to do:

Sometimes we’re so excited about what to do – the best way to swing, sprint, or dunk – that we forget about the things we should avoid when we start our training. Here are the most common mistakes people make:

1.  All or nothing mentality. Most of us fall prey to this extremely common misconception about exercise. Runners who go-on to become marathon winners do not run 20km’s in the first day… they start slow, and so should you.

   2.  Improper technique. Whether you’re learning a new swim stroke or training for hurdles, technique is extremely important. Too many active adults injure themselves by neglecting to apply proper technique during practice.

   3.  Cold warm up’s. I’ve seen so many of my patients make the same mistake, namely, their warm up routines lack the heat necessary for effect.  If you do not warm up properly, the likelihood of injury increases tenfold.

   4.  Burnout workouts. Yes, that’s right. When starting a new exercise regime, many people fail to eat nutrient dense foods which stimulate the body and give you energy. Low energy diets produce low energy workouts, and, what’s more, increase your risk of injury dramatically.

   5.  Lack of stretching. It’s that simple… if you don’t stretch, you’ll most probably get hurt. This is a mistake I see over and over again – too many people don’t stretch enough, or, in fact, just don’t stretch the right muscles.

So, now that you know WHAT NOT to do, how about we take a look how you can make your new exercise routine the best one yet.

What to do:

1.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Sure, you can hear your high school teacher shouting this at you across the field, but it’s true! Drinking enough water SIGNIFICANTLY increases your endurance and mobility. In fact, lubricating your joints not only safeguards you from injury, but ensures that you’re at the top of your game for much longer. 

2.  Start slow. Remember mistake number one? Instead of aiming for 20km’s in your first week, why not increase your distance gradually? The same goes for sports other than running; why not set yourself a goal and work towards it? All too often athletes injure themselves early on in their new routines simply because they started too intensely. Once you know where you’re going, it’s all about the journey. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

3.  Warm up! Making sure your muscles are warm BEFORE diving into your routine is VITAL. Doing a good warm up will certainly decrease your chances of injury, help your body acclimatize to the activity, and make you feel more mobile, alert, and responsive. 

4.  Get enough sleep! Unconventional? Not really… getting enough hours of sleep during the night significantly increases your ability to respond to new situations/exercise routines. You’re alertness increases and so does your ability to move, respond, and endure. 

5.  Snack time! Eating a healthy snack before and after your workout will allow your energy levels to remain stable. Remember, your new exercise routine might not be something your body is used to yet, thus it’s a great idea to keep it fueled, energized, and awake. 

6.  Wear the right gear. If you’re just starting out on your journey as a runner, for example, make sure you invest in good, stabilizing footwear. The same principle applies to other sports. Having clothing that supports your body during specific exercises significantly lowers your risk of injury.

7.  Learn the proper technique. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or are just keen to jump into the CrossFit box, technique is key. Find a trainer who can teach you the proper form; if you’re worried about injuries in general, be sure to talk to a physical therapist about form and technique before you start your exercise regime.

8. Listen to your body. If at any point you feel as though you may have injured yourself, the best possible thing you can do is see a physical therapist ASAP. Physical therapy will help you regain strength, relieve the pain, cure the issue, and get you back to the routine you love. Injuries do not need to set you back or waylay your goal – physical therapy is the answer!

So, if you’re about to jump into a new routine, your kids are dreaming about the Olympics, or you’re just looking for a new way to exercise, remember the tips above. Too many hopeful athletes have their seasonal goals stolen from them by injury, the likes of which are often caused by improper technique, all or nothing mentalities, or misinformation about what not to do. Don’t let this be you! Your new exercise regime should be fun, challenging, accessible, and stress free. Follow our tips to have the best regime yet!