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Tips to Avoid Shoulder & Elbow Injuries Post Lockdown

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have all faced a significant change in our normal daily lives. For many of us, this meant a rapid shift to working from home indefinitely, often without the correct set-up or equipment to do so. Plus, the inability to practice or compete in activities we enjoy, such as tennis, golf or going to the gym.

As the pandemic has carried on, Total Orthopaedics consultants, Mr Dimitrios Tsekes and Mr Rupen Dattani, have noticed an increase in golfers elbow / tennis elbow and rotator cuff injuries. They believe several factors have led to this over the past year, including:

  • Working from home with inappropriate equipment / set-up
  • Gyms, sports and clubs being inaccessible for a prolonged period
  • Eagerness to jump straight back into activities after lockdown

How can you avoid these injuries?

Review your desk setup

“The lack of an ergonomic set up at home for working on our laptops, has caused people to be sat for many hours in uncomfortable and painful positions” says Mr Rupen Dattani. He has observed that abnormal posture produced by crouching over a laptop results in altered scapular biomechanics, which can then lead to secondary tendonitis or impingement, making the issue more severe.

He is also noticing an increase in tennis and golfers elbow among those who do not take part in those sports. This due to similar concerns with inappropriate desk and chair height creating discomfort and leading to these tendon injuries, which are normally associated with sport.

You should alter your work from home set-up by ensuring your chair and desk are at suitable heights that aren’t causing a strain on your shoulders, elbows, or even your back.

examples of incorrect and correct desk chair setup

Return to the gym and sport cautiously

After months of inactivity, be mindful that you may have had some strength loss due to inactivity over the lockdown period. Many injuries are surfacing as the excitement of being able to enjoy gyms, golf courses and tennis courts again increases steadily.

When it comes to the gym, injuries to the rotator cuff are very common. Mr Dimitrios Tsekes recommends always warming up before a workout and becoming familiar with workout techniques. Asking a personal trainer can also help in avoiding incorrect technique or with appropriate machine use, and therefore averting damage. Read our blog for more information on rotator cuff tears.

With tennis courts and golf ranges now open, there has also been a rise in tennis elbow and golfers elbow. These injuries can be avoided by starting back up gradually and also importantly strengthening your forearm muscles to manage increased loads. Do not rush straight back into several hours of practice / play at once. Start off slow and increase your time gradually each week to see how your body responds. Below we have several videos which give you guidance and tips on how to do this, in addition to exercises and advice on how to relieve pain.

What can you do to help relieve pain?

Over the course of the pandemic, we held several webinars with our partners at R&D Physio London. Below are some videos with helpful explanations and exercises on how to help relieve pain from these types of injuries.

Exercises for Tennis Elbow
Exercises for Golfers Elbow

For more helpful videos follow us on YouTube.

Mr Rupen Dattani

Mr Rupen Dattani is a highly specialised Orthopaedic Consultant, specialising in the shoulder and elbow. He has extensive experience with keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery and joint replacement (arthroscopic) surgery, as well as surgical repair for fractures of the shoulder and elbow joints. Mr Dattani was appointed as a Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust in 2013.

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