You might be finding yourself sitting a lot more than normal these days, perhaps working from the couch or sitting at the table learning how to homeschool, or sitting on the floor playing with little ones. You might feel "analysis paralysis” - when just trying to make sense of your new normal has slowed you down. You're not alone! Many of us, myself included, have been experiencing some aches and pains due to one or more of these situations. Being a physical therapist is no exception! Recently, I had a case of low back pain after sitting at the computer too long and then hopping up to reorganize a closet and lifting the wrong way. After that, I experienced low back pain for several days. While it happens to the best of us, and being at home does not help the situation, this does not mean you should be stuck dealing with the pain on your own. Virtual physical therapy is a great tool to help you identify what is causing those aches and pains. Through a video call, your physical therapist can help you figure out how to help yourself. There are also several stretches that all of us can do routinely to help prevent the stiffness associated with more sitting, new postures and positions and being less active than normal.
If you do experience pain, it is possible you might need to rest a bit and perhaps ice the area (I did when it happened to me). However, it is important to get moving again as quickly as possible. Research shows us that early mobility in the case of back pain helps the healing process. Most back pain is not the concerning kind, and typically responds very well to movement. There are several movements and exercises that can help. I created a self-help guide that lists some of my favorite stretches for the spine.
These exercises focus on opening up the upper chest (undoing that slump posture we can all spend too much time in), stretching the front of the hips, and stretching the spine. Find a nice place to do some stretches where you can enjoy just breathing and moving, and have some tools on hand like a mat and foam roller. If it is hard to get away by yourself for a few minutes, get your kids to join in, they will think it is fun to exercise with you.
The exercises in the self-help guide are simply recommendations. Please reach out to your physical therapist if any of these exercises cause discomfort. While rest is important early on with low back pain, the quicker you can get moving again, the sooner you will start feeling better!