Is lockdown making you achier?
The first ever UK-wide lockdown had many of us feeling achier. One study, published in the Oxford Academic Journal using results from an online survey involving over 600 people, found that more than half of participants experienced more severe musculoskeletal symptoms during lockdown.1
This study involved just a small sample of people; however, other research has made similar findings. One such piece, commissioned by the company Neurofen, found that 36% of Brits experienced new or more severe pain during lockdown.2 Back pain was the most common issue, though headaches, joint aches, neck ache and muscle pain were not far behind.
Why does lockdown make the body ache?
So, why has lockdown caused a nationwide flare-up of aches and pains? Let's take a look at a few contributing factors.
Homeworking - Estimates suggest that more than half of the global workforce is now working from home. This can have some negative effects on the musculoskeletal system if things aren't set up just right. Maybe you're hunched over your computer for nine hours a day, or aren't getting up to move around as frequently as you would in the office.
New activities – With our time outdoors limited and social engagements curtailed, many of us have turned to new hobbies and interests to pass the time. Unfortunately, though, these too could contribute to new aches and pains. Perhaps your new online workout has triggered achy joints, for example, or that newfound love for embroidery has led to an uncomfortable kink in the neck or wrist.
Less outdoor movement – Time allowed for outdoor exercise continues to vary around the country, but with activities like shopping, exercise classes and home visits still off-limits, we are much less likely to spend time moving about outdoors.
Reduced access to specialist services – Studies have noted that, for some, the pain has worsened during lockdown due to the inability to access professional services, such as physiotherapy, that may help to address symptoms.
More screen time – Social media, box sets, online shopping and family Zoom calls have all been helpful ways to pass the time in lockdown; however, all this internet use can increase the likelihood of headaches and neck problems. We may also develop more aches and pains as it discourages us from moving around.
Stress and poor sleep – Lockdown has been a stressful time for everyone and stress can actually make aches and pains worse, particularly inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Additionally, stress may lead to poor sleep quality which is also detrimental for the muscles and joints.
How to address new aches and pains
If your body is generally feeling more uncomfortable during lockdown, there are a few things you may wish to try.
First off, if working from home, shake up the working environment. Get your computer screen at eye level using a few books, take a walk around the house every hour or so and use your lunch hour to get outside in the fresh air. These simple steps may help to eliminate a few common muscle and joint complaints, such as backache.
Speaking of moving outdoors, this should be something you incorporate on a regular basis to help combat pain. There are so many options, including cycling and jogging. You could even take an online exercise video and practise it in your garden! Make a weekly exercise plan to give your days a bit of structure during lockdown.
Taking a break from technology may also help to ease tension and pain. Could you put your phone away after 8pm at night, or turn off the telly at 9pm in favour of reading a book?
If you want something to target the pain directly, I would generally recommend applying some Atrogel Arnica Gel to the area during a flare-up.
Herbal remedies can also be quite a useful tool for tackling stress. Valerian and Hops, are our go-to ingredients for symptoms related to mild stress and anxiety. This can be found in our Stress Relief Daytime tincture.
If you are still struggling after trying some of these things, remember that your GP surgery will still be open during lockdown. Many doctors will facilitate a phone consultation if a face-to-face appointment cannot be arranged. NHS 111 is also a good source of additional help and advice.