One of the greatest challenges to our ongoing, pain-free mobility is prolonged immobility. Modern working life already presents many challenges to mobility.
Working in the same location for prolonged periods immediately limits the opportunity for mobility. Walking across the office can feel like mobility, although it is unlikely to contribute much to undoing the tightening up effects of being immobilised for prolonged periods. Most work, especially when it is office-based, encourages immobility. Whilst there is no such thing as good or bad posture (see a previous blog on posture) it is the static nature of the general workers’ posture that creates musculoskeletal issues.
In the current environment revolving around the Coronavirus Covid-19 which is bringing businesses to their knees, there is more opportunity for immobility than ever. Whether it be because business is slow and, therefore, movement around the workplace is reduced or because people are working from home or even because people are simply no longer working, there is a dangerous trend towards increased mobility and, essentially, regular alteration of posture.
Simply moving regularly can be all that is necessary to maintain mobility. Although movement requires muscular control by contraction and, by definition, leads to microscopic tightening up of the muscles and, therefore, joints over time it is still the best way to maintain mobility. Hence, the lack of a commute to work robs us of a huge amount of this essential mobility or, conversely, introduces a greater degree of immobility.
It is enormously important if you are currently working from home or working less that you maintain your mobility. Whilst there is definitely some relief to be enjoyed from no longer having to perform the same old tasks day to day that were perhaps leading to some discomfort, there is even greater risk of developing future conditions during periods of immobility.
If your day currently consists of climbing out of bed, walking to the kitchen, then on to the sofa for a day’s work, rest or series binging before heading back to bed you really are storing up problems that may come back to haunt you – even years later. Current Government advice encourages you to stay active. Whilst this is really difficult within the house without returning to the horrific house-based and frankly unnecessary workout suggestions of the 90s, it can be achieved whilst maintaining ‘social distancing’ guidelines.
The National Trust have announced the removal of all charges for access to their land. Whilst no refreshments or building access is available, this does mean that there is much more open space to go for a wander either alone or with a virus-free friend or two. Currently, small groups are seen as very low risk for infection, especially with sufficient screening.
As a minimum, if you have been immobilised all day take some compensatory action by self-massage or stretching out the muscles that generally tighten up whilst sitting for prolonged periods. The obvious culprits are the hamstrings on the back of the thighs, the gluteals around the back of the hips, the lower back muscles and the upper back/neck muscles.
At The Moballise Physiotherapy Clinic, we thoroughly recommend that you continue to address any mild tightness in these muscles groups so that your mobility is the last thing to suffer. Catching the CoronaVirus may be inevitable for some of us – the potentially devastating and long-lasting effects of immobility, though, are unnecessarily infectious and can be easily avoided.
For simple assessment, treatment and rehabilitation ideas go to ‘the videos’ section of the website or check out The Moballise Physiotherapy Clinic YouTube Channel.