The month of March brought a lot of firsts for many people. When social distancing guidelines went into effect in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, the isolation took a toll on many people’s physical and mental health.
In addition to that, the social distancing guidelines also meant that only the most essential workers were still going into work. As a result of that, people’s daily lives were altered, from what they eat for lunch to how they dress to do their work. A survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that social distancing has changed people’s habits when it comes to the kinds of clothes and shoes they wear.
The survey, done by foot-care product manufacturer Dr. Scholl’s, also found that 27% of people are experiencing an increase in their aches and pains since the coronavirus began.
People are experiencing quarantine aches
Since quarantine began, 42% of people reported wearing more athleisure clothing. When it comes to footwear, 66% of people are wearing more comfortable shoes than they usually do, while 45% are choosing slippers, and 36% have only been wearing socks.
While talking about fashion is always fun, it’s important to think about the health implications that the quarantine, and our corresponding fashion choices, has had on our bodies. According to the survey, 42% of Americans reported that walking barefoot has negatively affected their feet and 27% said they have experienced an increase in their aches and pains.
While both genders experience these aches and pains, men are more worried than women that their aches and pains will increase once they are able to return to their normal routines.
One might think that since we have more time to rest and practice self-care during quarantine that aches and pains may subside, but that is not the case. So what is causing these aches and pains during quarantine?
According to the survey, 36% of people believe that their poor posture while working from home has caused an increase in aches and pains, while 34% believe that lack of support on their feet is the cause for the increase in the discomfort.
What to do about quarantine aches and pains
While some of your aches and pains might be coming from either your poor posture or your choice of footwear, Dr. Benjamin Natelson, director of the Pain and Fatigue Study Center at Mount Sinai, told Ladders that most aches and pains in otherwise healthy people are actually a direct result of disturbed sleep.
“We definitely know that people with sleep deprivation become achy,” Natelson said.
The lack of a commute plus no social obligations sounds like it would add up to more sleep, but most people actually began to experience worse quality sleep at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 70% of Americans’ sleeping patterns have become inconsistent and 63% said that their sleep schedule is so damaged due to COVID-19 that they don’t think it will ever return to normal.
“As soon as you’re anxious, your sleep is affected, so that’s been an issue because everyone is anxious about this ailment because no one wants to get it,” Natelson said,
If stress or coronavirus-related anxieties are disturbing your sleep, Natelson recommends a few self-treatments that you can start immediately. First, Natelson recommends using a mindfulness or meditation app, like Calm, an app that provides meditation practices and Sleep Stories.
If mental health is your primary issue, Natelson also recommends getting in touch with a psychologist. For those that are worried about contracting coronavirus, there are many options for video chat or over-the-phone therapy sessions.
“If a person is very anxious and troubled, then they need to seek counseling,” Natelson said. “If they are not, then the ability to be more active will improve their sleep.”
So it turns out that your lack of movement may actually play a role in your aches and pains, just maybe not in the manner that you believed.
“The idea of using walking, swimming or some aerobic activity to confront fatigue, stress, and poor sleep…that’s the first thing that an individual can do to help him or herself,” Natelson said.
Natelson recommends aerobic exercise for those who think inactivity might be causing their disturbed sleep. While running can do the trick, Natelson recommends 30 minutes or more of rapid walking, which he describes as walking at a pace of about four miles per hour, or just fast enough so you start to sweat.
“Physical conditioning is one of the best treatments for stress and poor sleep,” Natelson said.
If you are struggling to sleep during the ongoing pandemic, check out more tips on how to keep coronavirus worries from disrupting your sleep and the best position to sleep in to help you deal with coronavirus anxiety.
The Pain and Fatigue Center at Mount Sinai is also seeing COVID-19 patients experiencing continued fatigue and aches after they have recovered. The center is currently working with these patients in hopes to minimize their ailments.
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.