Those who can, are currently working from home to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. Students have been sitting alone in front of the computer for a year, sometimes for hours and without a break – the back and the head suffer most of all. I asked an physiotherapy student of the University of Applied Sciences Kiel how to counteract backache and headache effectively and which exercises and tools help.
What are the most common complaints caused by misdesign of workplaces in the home office?
Many students suffer from neck pain, back pain and headache, they are feeling kind of sore because of the missing movement and watching at a screen for the whole day.
How should I set up my workstation at home so that the complaints do not occur in the first place?
You definitely need a good light and a chair that offers variable seating. It is necessary to drink about 2 liters per day, so you should have your water right next to you. But the most important thing is to move at regular intervals, to move the spine, stretching your muscles, to sit variably and not for a long time in one posture. Lots of students think they are sitting in a wrong posture, but that’s not the point. There is no right or wrong posture. The tissue starts to feel sore when we sit too long in one position, it doesn’t matter how we sit. It matter for how long.
What exercises do you recommend for the back and to prevent headache?
For students I recommend whole body exercises. For example yoga and pilates, if you like. Otherwise I favor the plank, exercises in quadruped stand and squats.
I advocate to use YouTube workouts, to help you to motivate and have a guide for the exercises. I often watch the YouTubers: Pamela Reif, MadFit, Bohobeautiful, YogawithCassandra, BodyKiss and many more. It is very important to find something that you like and suits you. Sports and exercises are very individual. The main thing is that you enjoy it and it relaxes you mentally.
How often and for how long should you do the exercises?
In the home office you should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Even if it is just walking outside or stretching. Do real sports and exert yourself at least 3 times a week – then about 30 minutes – but it is better to do 15 minutes of workout a day than nothing.
What helps if I already have pain, how can I treat it myself?
Pain originates in the brain and therefore movement is the main help. The cause is mostly the lack of movement and fear of wrong movements. Often the cause is harmless and unspecific, so you should not be afraid of movement. It is important not to avoid it and to find out when and where the pain occurs. Take your eyes off the screen and get up and walk every 30 minutes. Very significant is good sleep, at least 7-8 hours. If it doesn’t get better on your own initiative, I propose to visit your trusted physiotherapist.
What can I do to strengthen weakened muscle groups?
Weak muscle groups , if you sit a lot, are the abdomen, the neck muscles as well as the hip muscles: there I recommend as I said full body exercises, squats, lunges and plank variations.
What do you think is the essential thing to stay healthy in lockdown?
I think it is essential to relax your mind. We all don’t have a balance because we don’t get to meet many friends, we can’t have parties, and we can’t do sports together. Even then it is necessary to look what makes you feel good even when you are alone. Pay attention to your diet, cook with fresh vegetable and healthy ingredients and maybe meditation is also something for you- you can find some guided mediations on YouTube as well.
In addition to that you should have a look on the website of the initiative “headache hurts”. Here you can find more information on the website of FH Kiel: Studierende | Fachhochschule Kiel (fh-kiel.de)
Feel free to share your exersises our tips to stay healthy in home office with #healthylockdownFHKiel.