A North East physiotherapist has devised a special isolation home fitness programme using household items and furniture to combat injuries such as back pain brought on by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Neil Sleeman, owner of Platinum Physiotherapy and Personal Training, in Coxhoe, County Durham, and an experienced physiotherapist of 22 years, said he’d developed the programme after seeing evidence among his clients that lower back and neck pain, as well as reduced cardiovascular fitness, was on the rise as people were unsure of how to keep themselves active.

Said Neil: “The research has always suggested that between 80-90% of adults will have a significant back episode during their lives. A number of people not from this group have already reported new lower back pain, and the reasons for this are related to some key factors.

“Firstly, due to the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, many people are working from home. This means their normal working environment has changed including sitting on inadequate chairs/settees and at tables which are at the incorrect height. Walking to and from either the office or transport options has also been greatly reduced, so the activity levels are immediately affected by this.

“Secondly, the restrictions in place regarding social isolation are affecting our normal exercise habits. Despite many taking the opportunity to exercise outside for up to an hour per day as advised, thousands are not and therefore their time being sedentary has increased. Activities like shopping and other regular daily activities are no longer taking place as often, so this also increases the risk of back pain and reduced fitness.”

Despite the above, however, Mr Sleeman reiterates this is a unique opportunity to prevent back pain and increase fitness over the coming weeks and months.

“Every single one of us is in a position where implementing simple strategies on a daily basis can make positive changes to our health for both the short and long term. As the Coronavirus situation resolves our individual goals should be to fitter and stronger than ever, so that future medical problems such as back pain, heart disease and stroke are less likely,” he said.

Mr Sleeman is recommending a simple “Home Strength Programme” that everyone can do regularly during the day and has seen great success over the past three weeks since the restrictions have been in place. This is using household furniture/items that everyone has in their homes, and therefore accessible for all.

“The following eight exercises can be easily modified for each person, and the aim is to do each for one minute in succession, three to six times daily at spread-out intervals (the number of times per day is dependent on current level of fitness),” he said.

“The result of these “eight-minute circuits” is a sum total of thirty to sixty minutes in total, and in conjunction with the outside activity permitted it will prevent back pain and improve cardiovascular health on an ongoing basis. The circuit aims to address the following:

1: Core muscle strength to assist the back and neck

2: Upper and lower body strength

  1. Cardiovascular fitness

4: General mobility

To access the free home programme, find Platinum Physiotherapy and Personal Training Durham on Facebook!