Exodus of offices has led to spike in pain and injuries associated with bad home office set ups, physios say

Physiotherapist Adnan Asger Ali has seen an increase in clients suffering pain due to bad home office setups. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Physiotherapist Adnan Asger Ali has seen an increase in clients suffering pain due to bad home office setups. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

As workers sit slouched in their home office chairs and race back to exercise after weeks off, pain and injuries have become rife, say Canberra physiotherapists.

Australian Physiotherapy Association ACT branch vice-president Adnan Asger Ali said there had been a spike in "new and different" injuries, with many issues associated with a bad home office set-up since stay at home orders led to an exodus from traditional workplaces.

"Then with coronavirus restrictions being eased and people going back into the gym, that's caused another little spike in overuse injuries" he said.

"People doing their back because they haven't gone to the gym for three months and then suddenly they are trying to pick up where they left off."

On the other hand, Mr Asger Ali said working from home could lead to an overly sedentary lifestyle.

"You wake up, you roll out of bed, you sit at your desk and then you go to the toilet and the fridge," he said. "All of a sudden that's your entire day."

Physiotherapist Adnan Asger Ali has seen a jump in clients suffering pain due to bad home office set-ups. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Physiotherapist Adnan Asger Ali has seen a jump in clients suffering pain due to bad home office set-ups. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Mr Asger Ali said it was important to re-introduce "incidental exercise" that people would normally get walking to the bus, between meetings, or to get a coffee during the day.

He said having the right office set-up was also critical.

"I don't think we'll be going back to a workforce that is full- time in the office going forward. If anything COVID has shown we can have a part-time office workforce," he said. "We've got to make sure people are well educated and getting the right advice in terms of work station set ups."

From mid June gyms, health clubs, fitness centres and boot camps were able to operate with a maximum of 100 people per indoor or outdoor space, or one person per four square metres.

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People were allowed to resume circuit training, individual weight training and use gym equipment, but businesses had to have a COVID safety plan. Canberrans have also begun returning to work.

Back and neck pain have been the biggest areas of concern for patients and Mr Asger Ali said a bad set-up could also lead to an increased risk of headaches.

Southside Physio in Tuggeranong and Woden had a steep decline in bookings when restrictions were first implemented in March.

Director Bjarne Kragh said revenue dropped 25 per cent.

"We are seeing a slow return to normal," he said as the ACT moves through a staged return to normal life.

"The patient group that has been coming in has been occupational health and safety issues where the majority of people have been sitting at really poor work desks at home."

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The clinic started offering home office consultations via Telehealth, to talk workers through where they were going wrong.

"I predict more and more people when they are cutting down on their office space will see they'll need people like us to set up their home to decrease the risk," Mr Kragh said.

Mr Kragh advised people to listen to their bodies.

"Early niggles should be taken as a warning sign," he said. "If you start feeling a little bit sore in a tendon in the morning when you get out of bed, that's a sign you've overdone it."

This story Office exodus sees rise of 'new and different' work injuries first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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