BY JULIA PASSARELLI
Physiotherapists have seen a spike in injuries as a result of people working, studying and exercising from home during social isolation.
Humphris Health co-owner and physiotherapist Ben Humphris said his clinic was hit hard when social distancing restrictions came into place, but is now seeing an increase in appointments.
“Across the board we had a 20 to 30 per cent drop off in bookings in the first two to three weeks and an increase of about 1000 per cent of cancellations, because we literally went from one a week to 10 or 15 a week,” Mr Humphris said.
But as lockdown continued, bookings picked up again.
“We’ve had a significant increase in appointments. We’ve had an average of 15 to 24 new clients book in every week,” Mr Humphris said.
He said a large percentage of these clients had some “postural complaints”.
“The increase has been in postural problems, so neck and lower back pain,” he said.
“There’s more from working from home, less ergonomic setups, not training as much and therefore getting slightly weaker.
“Often people are working longer as well, because they’ve got their laptop readily available and they’ve cut out travel time.”
Mr Humphris said a change in approach to the way people exercise in lockdown is also contributing to back injury.
“Basically, the limited equipment people have is forcing people to lift heavier in exercises they normally wouldn’t,” he said.
“It’s also forcing people to do more repetitions and more sets and more volume because they’ve got only a lighter weight, so they feel like they’ve got to do more of it to produce the same result, which usually ends up in injury.”
Monash University student Zahin Shahriar Bin Khair is one of the many people experiencing aggravated back pain while studying from home.
“Before this I would be playing football almost every day,” he said.
“I’m confined in my room. I just stay in my room all day looking at a screen and writing down stuff on paper.
“My parents keep telling me it’s because of my weight but, even then, usually it doesn’t affect me this much.
“Sitting in a chair all day is really affecting me now.”
To prevent back pain caused by prolonged sitting, PhD student Crisdion Krstevski has adopted the use of a standing desk.
“I always found that I had issues with my lower back, sitting for long hours,” Mr Krstevski said.
“I had a lot of times where I was going to the physio, or working to try and strengthen my core and other things about my posture, from sitting.
“Now I’ve seen benefits from it because I don’t have pain in my back anymore.”
While some social distancing restrictions in Victoria have been eased, guidelines still urge people to work and study from home where possible.