Here's How Lockdowns Are Taking A Physical Toll On Your Body - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Here’s How Lockdowns Are Taking A Physical Toll On Your Body

As many of us go into our third, fourth - even fifth - lockdown, there are some physical ailments that can arise. Here’s what to look out for and how to address it.

When it comes to pandemic-induced lockdown, some flourish and others flounder. While it’s certainly been a time ripe for taking up new hobbies or discovering hidden talents like sourdough baking or a penchant for the harmonica, for the most part these extended weeks of isolation have been challenging mentally and physically. With gyms closed and those group training classes suspended, mustering the motivation to do your own workout at home has been hard to navigate. And with all the uncertainty surrounding the current economic and social climate, simply getting out of bed these days is a worthy accomplishment. But while many have spoken of the importance of looking after your mental health while in lockdown, the need to maintain some kind of exercise is equally important. As many have found, extended weeks indoors do have a physical toll on the body. 

Foot troubles

One of the main issues to come out of Covid-induced lockdown is issues with the feet. When you consider the fact that when at home, we’re not exactly treating our feet to cushioned sneakers but instead opting for worn slippers or simply going barefoot, it makes sense. Orthopaedic foot surgeons and podiatrists have seen an increase in people presenting with painful toes and foot problems. 

A key area of issue with the foot was that of plantar fasciitis – inflammation around the base of heel – and achilles tendonitis. By walking repeatedly barefoot or in ill-fitting footwear on hard surfaces, these issues can arise, and are compounded especially when you’re sedentary for long periods of time. Thankfully, the issue isn’t too hard to address. Investing in some cushy, comfortable shoes can certainly go a long way in treating the issue, while even brief daily exercise does wonders to avoid these aches. 

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Back and shoulder strain

As we traded an office for the home living room, we set up makeshift desks with books piled onto of each other, or in some instances simply worked from bed. But while it might sound like the ideal work set-up, the reality is far removed. As a result, we’re dealing with more back, neck and shoulder strains than ever before. When you consider the addition of stress that can also lead to physical tension in the body, it’s not hard to see why so many of us are requiring a fistful of Ibuprofen simply to make it out of bed in the morning without searing aches. 

It’s not surprising then, that complaints of neck, shoulder and back pain have risen across the past year. As we spend more time on desktops and staring down at our smartphones, the position is one that leads to pain. While adjusting your computer screen to be at eye level is something that can minimise the pain, holding the position for too long won’t get you anywhere. Asa result, doctors recommend the “20, 8, and 2” rule – 20 minutes of sitting, broken up with eight minutes of standing and two of walking. 

Chipped teeth

Given the stress and anxiety many of us are feeling currently, the fact that dentists have seen an increase in people presenting with worn and chipped teeth since the pandemic began isn’t hard to believe. As Outside suggests, “Many people channel prolonged stress into teeth clenching and grinding at night. According to an American Dental Association survey published in March, dentists saw increases of more than 60 per cent in clenching and grinding, cracked or chipped teeth, and jaw pain compared to pre-pandemic stats.”

Teeth grinding is a tricky issue, as many of us are unknowingly grinding away at night. To combat this, health practitioners suggest consulting your local dentist and taking a dental exam, to ensure there isn’t too much damage and, should grinding be an issue, a night guard can be recommended. 

Warped self-image

Prior to the pandemic, no-one knew what Zoom was let alone had it installed on their phones. Now, our days revolve around the countless Zoom meetings we have scheduled (which, let’s face it, really could just be an email). Whether it’s a quest to simply communicate with others or a desire to see just what your colleagues’ home interiors look like, we spend most of our working day now staring into a computer camera. As a result, it’s led many people to stare at their own complexions, analysing what they dislike and what needs to be fixed. Consequently, dermatologists are coining this age as that of “Zoom dysphoria,” and they’ve seen a surge in cosmetic consultations. 

A study published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology found that more than half of the dermatologists surveyed saw an increase in cosmetic consultations during the pandemic. 86 per cent of those said that patients reported seeing themselves in video conferencing as a reason for their visit. These warped perceptions of our own selves were compounded by increased time on social media, where filters now have many of us feeling unhappy with our actual appearance. Experts have suggested spending less time on screen, and that definitely helps. But more importantly: focus on the priorities – your health. Get outdoors when you can, soak in the sunshine, move your body and be kind to yourself. Lockdown isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to take a physical toll on your body, too. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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