Over the last few months I have been seeing a lot of patients complaining of back, neck and joint pains. It has been particularly more noticeable because the demographics of the people presenting has shifted from the usual middle to older age groups to those in their 20s and 30s.

I have been enquiring, with interest, into the lifestyles of these patients and found a similar trend – those who would usually be leading a more active lifestyle are now more sedentary and the sudden transition from busy working lives to working and learning from home has contributed to a rising number of people troubled with aches and pains which are easily preventable.

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I am hearing all sorts of habits that have formed over this past year from people working long hours from home, slouched over their laptops on their sofas to children spending hours on ipads and laptops lying on their tummies or hunched over on their beds. I need to also address how stressful and high pressured a time it has been for everyone which contributes to the build-up of tension in the neck, shoulder and muscles of the upper back too, so it’s no wonder our bodies are seizing up.

During the first lockdown last year, people were not as affected by sedentary behaviours as they are now. The days were longer and the weather was inviting so we all made the most of that one hour a day allocation to exercise outdoors.

People were motivated to move and stay active. Fast forward a year though and we are all feeling fed up. The cold weather and shorter days has made getting out to exercise feel like an effort, not worth making, for many people. Whilst the reasons are understandable, we do need to raise awareness and change our habits if we want to avoid the aches and pains.

Movement does not need to be arduous exercise but it is important to remember that we are not designed to be sat in the same position for hours on end. The purpose of our joints are to move; our muscles waste when they are not kept active and we run the risk of stiffening up.

I therefore always recommend people to introduce and incorporate movement snacks into their day. Especially if you are working or learning from home, it is vital to sit less and move more. To ensure you are getting enough physical activity, set a reminder or alarm to go off every 30 minutes and use that as a short break to stand up, stretch your body and shake those hands and feet.

If you are waiting for your kettle to boil, why not try doing a few lunges or squats – it really is as simple as that but a little movement often will go a long way to staving off those aching joints.

Lots of people have lost connection with their posture. It is important to review what your back, shoulders and neck are doing during prolonged hours at the desk.

Perhaps your laptop needs to be mounted, or you need an office chair or an extra cushion to help straighten the back? If your suffering from back pain, do not ignore it. Speak to your employer and review your working from home set up. If it is impacting your quality of life or is not settling, speak to your GP.

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A lot of people find standing desks helpful and you don’t need to buy a special desk to try this – simply place your laptop on an ironing board throughout the day for a change.

Other people are doing work calls whilst walking and therefore killing two birds with one stone!

The point is to think outside the box to create more opportunities to keep your body moving and engaged; we have to look for ways to make our working lives more healthy and sustainable.

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I like to do my telephone consultations either standing up or walking around the room these days as I find my body really stiffens up if I spend a day sat at the desk. Movement breaks it up, helps circulation and keeps us refreshed.

We know that getting a daily dose of fresh air and exercise is beneficial for our physical and mental health so we need to push ourselves to do what we can.

The guidance for adults is to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. If you break this into small movement snacks throughout the day, it won’t feel like hard work!