Pain and stiffness resulting from an imposed sedentary lifestyle during lockdown, in the university community

C. Michailidou, L. Charalambous, C. King, H. Tsangari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE To evaluate the impact of lockdown on pain and stiffness, associated with changes in daily habits, work routine and activities, in the academic community in Greece and Cyprus. METHOD A cross-sectional study was conducted with 308 university faculty members and students. Pain was measured with the short form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ), and pain intensity, stiffness, daily activities and work routine changes were assessed. RESULTS Daily habits and work routine changed during lockdown, with an increase in sedentary mode, and the changes were significantly related to pain (p<0.05). Most participants reported stiffness, especially after prolonged sitting, which was reduced when they exercised, especially with walking or running (p=0.013). Pain was significantly greater during lockdown (p<0.001), primarily in the back and neck, but also in the form of headache/migraines. The respondents perceived their pain mainly as “tiring-exhausting”. Sitting for long hours significantly increased pain intensity (mean score=4.35, on a scale from 1 to 6). CONCLUSIONS Working from home indirectly forces university faculty members and students into a sedentary lifestyle. Online teaching and learning entail prolonged sitting in front of the computer, which is associated with bad sitting postures, disturbed sleep habits and long periods of physical inactivity. These are related to stiffness and pain, especially in the back, neck and head. As the pandemic continues and distance learning is expected to remain as an alternative mode in universities, even after the pandemic, emphasis should be given to the occupational health of people in the academic community. Intervention strategies are needed to prevent chronic musculoskeletal problems, with promotion of awareness of ergonomic training and ergonomic working arrangements at home, and encouragement of physical exercise of any type, especially walking or running.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-780
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Hellenic Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Daily habits
  • Lockdown
  • Pain
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Stiffness


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