Spinal Health During COVID-19

April 27, 2020

Whether it’s sitting for long periods of time in front of your computer, vegging out watching your favourite Netflix series or undertaking the daily commute to work, we are all guilty of sitting for WAY too long each day!

Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyles have been linked with an array of complications for the spine, as well as other physical health problems. Such complications can include increased risk of spinal injuries, vertical compression of the vertebral discs causing neural symptoms and degeneration of spine often leading to health conditions like arthritis.

Poor posture – often caused by long periods of sitting – is often a contributing factor in spinal complications. Whether it was because you had a work deadline, needed to reply to that influx of emails or you can’t peel your eyes away from the binge-worthy series you’re watching, you’re likely sitting for TOO long resulting in a sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyles are harmful and have damaging effects on the integrity and health of our spine.

You may be wondering what counts as ‘poor posture’. We typically see rounded shoulders causing a “slumped” posture and a “poke-neck” as our cervical spine compensates. With increased amounts of stress on the cervical spine it is not uncommon for people to experience headaches and tension in the upper limbs. Finally, lower limb muscle groups such as the hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes will feel tight which may lead to pain, discomfort or cramping.

The COVID-19 pandemic may mean you are now working from home and/or spending more time home-schooling the kids. The COVID-19 limitations have likely led to an increased amount of sedentary time. It’s important not to forget the importance of a healthy spine as we navigate our way through this crazy time. Our best advice? Move more, sit less.

There are a range of strategies you can incorporate into your day-to-day to help prevent deterioration of the spine and improve your overall health and well-being – sounds good right?

  1. Healthy postural principles–
    • Imagine you are holding an apple between your chin and chest, this will help in avoiding “poke-neck”.
    • Roll the shoulders down and back away from the ear lobes
    • Ensure your lumbar spine is supported (can use a towel, small cushion or lumbar support)
    • Avoid crossing your legs at the desk
  2.  Move more, sit less! Find ANY opportunity to move the body, even if that means taking the stairs instead or the elevator or opting to stand during your online meetings instead of sitting. Alternatively, walk around the outside of the house on the same minute, every hour of the day. This will help to realign and refocus you!
  3. Break up sedentary time with very basic body-weight exercise! Aim to complete 20seconds of each exercise below, 3 times per day! There are countless body-weight exercises you can include to mix up the routine! Have a go and aim for no rest breaks!
    • Squats over a chair
    • Side stepping
    • High knees /  marching
    • Quick arm punches
    • Arm circles
    • Desk or wall push ups

If you need any further advice, reach out to our team at Bodyfit NT on (08) 8981 2886!