Agony. That feeling of being strapped on one's chair, clocking in unlimited hours of working from home (WFH). The neck starts to hurt, then back starts to stiffen and to top it off, the wrists are in so much pain. The lucky bit of the workforce who managed to transition into WFH struggle with delineating work duties from household management and time for the self, sharing WiFi and space with other household members, and managing kids in online schooling for some.
The manual labourer who needs to bike around the city to deliver goods would keep pedaling until the knee aches and shoulders tighten. The business owner who keeps grinding from 4AM to past midnight just to support their staff never gets to sleep and has dropped off the fit lifestyle - there were no more marathons to work towards. Children are slouched in front of their gadgets to be educated or entertained and the elderly keep wondering when the sun can shine on them again. We are in a pandemic of agonizing pain.Massage, chiro, acupuncture and myotherapy are the most common escape to these unfortunate sensations. We are used to "receiving" well-being through a source of relief. Should another lockdown be in place, these passive modalities will not be as accessible anymore yet again and we have to be more proactive and innovative. Introducing the least famous among the sisters, physiotherapy. It might not be the coolest thing in the world as there is not much fanfare in it, there are no cracking and needles much involved but it works wonders - if you find a good physio that is.
"Science transcends physical touch. Knowledge can be transmitted at the absence of passive modalities. Well-being can be actively achieved."
Physiotherapy, physical therapy or PT are all the same thing in different parts of the world. I took up physio thinking that I wanted to be a doctor. In traditional Asian societies, you are either a doctor, a lawyer or nothing. It took a while to be ok with being nothing lol. I fell in love with physio because it explained so much about the human body. There is always a reason for everything! My left ankle sprain when I was trying to be cool playing ball in 2014 to "undo" my flat feet could explain my right knee pain in 2019, which could relate to my left hip tightness ever since I was 8, all in all adding to my knees kissing unless I stretch out my outer hips and keep squatting. Being the most western science-based among the different kinds of therapy, I found much comfort in physio. In March 2020 when my new clinic was shut down, it was challenging to imagine how to migrate my profession online. I managed to do it though, surprisingly! Scaling up into a bigger platform, www.kakayanan.org aims to deliver physiotherapy services for all Filipinos regardless of socioeconomic status. Science transcends physical touch. Knowledge can be transmitted at the absence of passive modalities. Well-being can be actively achieved and here are some tips and tricks.
Whether our jobs keep the work from home set-up or go hybrid, sitting in an office chair will always be part of the equation. Keeping everything in a neutral position is the key. If possible, bring your screen up to eye level. If a huge monitor is not accessible, raising your laptop or device on a box or a portable stand would work wonders for you. Make sure it is at the center, not at the side so as not to overuse your neck rotators. Forearm support is much crucial and usually forgotten. When we allow our wrists to elbows to rest on the table, it saves our neck and wrists unnecessary stress. Shoulders usually roll inward into a slouch causing our head to poke forward. If we make an effort to squeeze our shoulder blades together, our head will naturally tuck in and shoulders open up. "Back straight" is more relatable than "neutral spine" - both are correct although the former is more like an idiom because our spine is not straight at all. We have natural spinal curves which we should maintain when sitting. Adjust your seat height to make sure that hips are level with the knees to minimise compression on the hip flexors and keep your feet flat as much as possible to minimise tightness on the back of the thigh or hamstrings. Lastly, if you could keep your sitting time to a maximum of 50 minutes per hour, do it. That extra 10 minutes when you can walk or stand instead of staying on your seat could save your body from so much pain.
Your Author Josh Manoharan is a Filipino-Sri Lankan Physiotherapist based in BGC. He holds clinic at Kerry Sports Manila at Shangri-La Fort. For about 6 years, he was appointed the head coach and studio manager of F45 Training BGC Stopover, an Australian gym that pioneered in Manila. Starting with a vision to thoroughly understand the human body, he started with basic healthcare, got sidetracked to fitness and is now merging both through a telehealth startup company called Kakayanan, Filipino for “Ability”. Using different channels, Josh aims to share science-based advice to improve the quality of life of Filipinos around the world and expats based in the Philippines.