Fiona Laryn, osteopath and director of Laryn Allied Health in Queenstown, has noticed new trends in health complaints at the clinic, courtesy of lockdown.
There has been a steep rise in injuries, tension headaches, tech neck and digestive disorders that she hasn’t seen before.
“I’m seeing many people who have had injuries obtained from taking up a new or increased recreational activity such as biking or running. Their body is not used to doing these activities on a daily basis and therefore they sustain an injury from overuse or direct trauma,” says Laryn.
Tension-type headaches from too much screen time or being sedentary is another common complaint, as is an increase in digestive disorders such as reflux or altered bowel movements relating to an increase in stress and modified lifestyle factors.
“Working from home means there is less differentiation between our home and office life. It all blends, and so do the routines which would normally be kept separate,” says Laryn. “I recommend people try to maintain a similar routine and schedule to ensure a work/like balance is maintained.”
Laryn also recommends creating a designated work space within the home if possible, sticking to normal work hours and breaks as if you were in the office and dressing as if you were going to work.
“All these points help encourage that differentiation between the two environments, which will in turn ensure a good work/life balance is maintained for yourself.”
Laryn describes ‘tech neck’ as the result of staring at a screen too much, whether it be a phone or computer. “This posture repeated and maintained over time causes structural alterations where the muscles at the back of the neck and head become tight and, over time, shortened. The head shifts forwards wanting to bring the eyes closer to the screen and the shoulders accommodate by becoming curbed and closed forwards. This is one of the most common causes of tension-type headaches I see at the clinic.”
To avoid ‘tech neck’, Laryn recommends maintaining any screens at eye level to avoid looking down, reducing or limiting the time spent in front of a computer, incorporating a neck-stretching routine into your day if you work from a computer, and ensuring you have a proper set-up if working from a desk where the back is upright and well supported.
“If you are unsure of how to do all the above, reach out to your local osteopath, who, aside from being able to treat you and assist with your posture, will be able to guide you for how to avoid tech neck.”