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Health Matters: COVID-19 and Back Pain

From the couch to the dining room table, even the bed, for many people COVID-19 has changed where and how you work.

“What we’ve got is a situation where people might be spending a lot more time at home than usual. They might be having to work from home or stay home to look after children, and so they may be trying to do their work on a computer that’s set up differently, so that’s going to change the stresses and strains on the spine, particularly being in an awkward posture,” said Kath Kinross, a physical therapist with Lee Health.

Things like stress, body alignment, posture, and weight gain— all of which have been impacted by the pandemic–can cause back pain. “The biggest factor to is probably the actual chair that you’re sitting on. The chairs you’ve got at work, you’ve at least got an office chair, and a lot of people at home might be sitting on a couch. We tend to slouch on a couch. It’s very hard to sit in a good posture on a soft surface. If you’re sitting on the bed with your legs out in front of you with the laptop on your lap, you’re really going to be putting both your neck and your back at a huge disadvantage,” said Kinross. She recommends finding a firmer surface to sit on while you work, and use something like a mesh device or a towel to prop behind the back. “When we’re sitting, we’re supposed to have a little hollow here on the back. And what tends to happen when we’re sitting on a softer surface, or especially a lower surface, is we tend to slump. And it’s that slumping that really puts a lot of pressure on the back and on the neck,” she said.

It’s also important to make time to move. Set a reminder to get up and stretch every 20 minutes. “This is a very common problem and one that with physical therapy you can really help. A lot of times, we can teach people exercises that they can do from home,” Kinross said. Improving your posture, changing how you sit, and increasing your physical activity can help to improve your back pain.

View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/ Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit LeeHealth.org

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