WORKING longer hours at poorly set-up desks are taking a physical toll on Ballarat's at-home office workers.
Eureka Osteo co-director Anthony Rogan said there had been a marked rise in people with upper-back and neck pain since his clinic re-opened two months ago - and this was predominantly a result from the sudden and now prolonged move to home offices.
Dr Rogan said with at-home work arrangements likely to remain in place a while yet as the pandemic plays out, it was important people make the little adjustments they need for their health.
"We're getting a real sense of hitting peak time in home office environments. People are getting tired of it, a bit of a sense they're tired of lockdowns and Zoom meetings all the time," Dr Rogan said. "The weather is definitely having an impact, too.
"...People are sitting at their desks longer. They don't get up as much for the incidental activity and distractions there are in an office."
People are sitting at their desks longer. They don't get up as much for the incidental activity and distractions there are in an office.Anthony Rogan, Eureka Osteo co-director
This comes as new research shows two in three Australians are experiencing pain with a quarter of people waiting until their pain becomes chronic before seeking professional advice.
Osteopathy Australia's Pain Healthcare Report, released on Monday, also showed pain from poor at-home work set-ups, at-home workouts and pandemic stress prevent 50 per cent of Australians from exercising. These factors also affect their sleep (43 per cent) and work (18).
Dr Rogan said he had seen a lot of cases where workers had been sent home to work in lockdown with a lap-top for the main work station.
He said simple modifications like an extra monitor, or propping the lap-top up to an appropriate screen level, could make a big difference in ergonomics. A separate keyboard and computer mouse were also important.
Dr Rogan has also found a lot of people being creative to alternate between sit and stand options.
Moving regularly was important too. Dr Rogan said one of the most effective methods was to set a reminder, like a alarm on your phone or a computer notification, to get up and move in regular intervals whether this be every hour or 20 minutes.
Exercise snacking is one suggestion from Federation University lecturer and exercise physiologist Matthew Wallen to stay healthy in isolation.
The foodless snack trend involves short bursts of movement every 30 minutes that, in an average working week, would keep people on target to reach the globally recommended 150 minutes' moderate intensity exercise each week.
Dr Wallen said this could break up desk time and exercise also had physical and mental therapeutic benefits.
Other at-home office pain to cop up in isolation has been a rise in 'slipper foot' and Ugg Boot injuries.
My FootDr Ballarat podiatrist Jade Leonard told The Courier last month her clinic had an increase in clients with foot soreness, who were often surprise the damage wearing slippers could make for those merely working from home.
Ms Leonard said when you were otherwise used to wearing shoes all day in the office, prolonged slipper use could make a big difference. She said supportive shoes were the best for your feet, even when standing up cooking for an hour on a hard floor.
Osteopathy Australia is urging people to consult a general practitioner or allied health professional for pains and niggles, particularly the longer the pandemic plays out.
People are also encouraged to take care in lifestyle changes, including work, as restrictions ease and loadings and impacts on the body change. This includes moves back into the gym and organised sports.
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