Working from home during Lockdown?

Many more people are working from home during these challenging times. I thoroughly recommend setting up a good, dedicated (if possible) working space at home. Of course this can be very difficult with lack of equipment, lack of room and sharing your space with family, children, housemates etc.

Despite these challenges there are usually things that can be done to at least improve our environment. The following short video is a taster of some of the things to look into.

I also recommend that if this is likely to be a long term arrangement that some investment in equipment should be looked at if one’s finances allow it. It’s also worth discussing this with your employer as they may be able to assist in the purchase of kit.

The least expensive and most useful addition is a laptop stand which can be used with a separate keyboard, mouse and/or trackpad. This lifts the screen up meaning the head doesn’t drop down. Looking down at a screen increases neck pain and tension, and puts strain through the shoulders. It even adds to low back pain and soreness as the centre of gravity moves forward and the lumbar muscles have to work harder. If we are in discomfort and pain then our ability to focus and concentrate is impacted leading to reduced efficiency in our ability to work well.

Document holders work in similar ways and are also inexpensive. They keep the head looking forward in a more neutral way.

A good chair (and importantly) properly set up will significantly help to reduce pain. Ideally one that will tilt as we lean our weight forward and back depending on what we are doing are the desk. The one above is an excellent example and kindly loaned by the people at Back World in Exeter, near my osteopathic clinics in Newton Abbot and Ashburton. You will also receive great advice on setting up a home work station.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like some advice on your particular situation.

Befriending the Inner Critic

The inner critic is a powerful force and sadly it is all too familiar in today’s culture. It appears in many guises but frequently as self criticism, shame, disconnection and difficulty in expressing ourselves. It saps us of confidence and energy, triggering conflict and misunderstanding, and brings untold amounts of misery. It has a powerful effect on our body and on our health often shaping our posture from the physical hold it has on us.

Held within our bodies these contraction patterns interfere with the function of our breathing and digestion further impacting on our health. Classically the person with a strong inner critic may feel slightly hunched almost as if they’re being put upon by an external force.

I’ve copied a link here to one of Rob Burbea’s talks given at Gaia House – a well known and respected retreat centre that I’m blessed to live a short distance away from. It offers a detailed and deeply insightful exploration of why and how this has become so insidious in Western culture but more importantly it offers a possible path of what can be done to help erode the habits of mind that can at times seems unrelentingly imprisoning and suffocating. His insights draw heavily on the Buddhist tradition of mindfulness and befriending these darker elements of ourselves by bring a sense of kindness, warmth, awareness and understanding that can not only free us from our own suffering but can also improve our creativity, connection and confidence. This is likely to then ripple out away from us benefitted the people around us, most likely to those close to us that we hold dear.

https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9815/

As an osteopath I’m not only concerned with releasing people from pain in their bodies. I’m also interested in trying to help him deal with other forms of pain within their own lives in whatever form it takes. I’m also hoping to somehow reduce their burden. When our burden (both physically and emotionally) is lighter we put ourselves under less strain, we have more energy, tensions can dissipate and we stand taller.

During my own practice of meditation I’m often aware how emotional knots manifest in the body and in those lucky moments when release occurs a greater sense of freedom and opening can be reflected in the body, freeing me of low back pain, tension around the shoulders, holding in the jaw and neck and the other familiar places where we store tensions.

Butterfly Stretch for Happy Hips

This is a wonderful stretch for opening the hips, reducing pelvic tightness, aiding breathing and digestion.

More from my stretch studio in Newton Abbot! This is part of my daily routine and I often prescribe the for my patients. It’s good for low back pain and helps with the effects of osteoarthritis in the hips.

Like so many good yoga based exercises for back health, it is also very grounding.

Enjoy! Max the osteopath 🙂

My Personal Daily Stretch Routine

Every morning (nearly) I start the day with 5-10 minutes of stretching. It has a profound effect slowly but surely improving posture and energy whilst reducing stress and pain. It’s amazing how we look after so many of the objects that fill our lives but often overlook the most important – our bodies. It’s also an act of self love, sending a message of positive self respect and value to ourselves.

This routine covers most areas of the body. It will gently open up the low back and stretch import postural muscles like the hamstrings, quads and deep hip flexors like psoas. It stretches out the ribs and thorax and helps improve diaphragmatic breathing.

Remember that our bodies take time to soften up in the mornings so it’s preferable to have been up and about for at least 30 minutes before stretching. Choose a comfortable area of floor (carpet or rugs), make sure you’re warm and maybe use a pillow under your head. Take your time and stay mindful with the breath – let it soften areas of tightness and pain. Breathe into the areas of discomfort and don’t force anything.

You should start to feel a difference very quickly and this will slowly build with time. Hopefully you’ll get to a point where you’ll be wanting to do more each day.

More exercises will be appearing here from my stretch studio in Newton Abbot.

The Neutral Position

This is very therapeutic and nurturing position. It’s good for releasing tension in the low back and to return to between doing other postures to get a sense of before and after.

Add a pillow under the head if your neck is uncomfortable and make sure your warm. Stay in the position for a few minutes or longer if you feel it’s beneficial.

Take time to feel where the breath is in the body. Is it low in the abdomen or higher in the upper ribs. What’s is it’s character like? Is the breath smooth, coarse, deep, shallow, ragged? Experiment with resting your attention on the out breath. Does that feel different from resting attention in the in breath?

Try visualising the roots growing down from your body deep into the earth. After a few minutes compare how you feel to how you felt when you first laid down.

This can really help with acute low back pain.

I’ll be posting more from my clinic in Newton Abbot over the coming months.

Single Knee Hugs

This is a very gentle, simple but effective stretch for the low back. It can be very soothing and also helps give space to the lumbar spine.

Single Knee Hugs

Be gentle, work in a pain free range and try to co ordinate it with your breathing. It can be even more effective if you imagine your breath moving down to your low back and hips.

Spend a few moments grounding yourself in the “neutral position” before starting. See if you can detect a difference between each side of your body half way through.