Balance health and wellbeing while working from home

How to deal effectively working from home and gain a healthier work life balance, with Annabel Jeffcoate.

There is a lot to be said for the benefit of working from home. No stressful commute, more time to spend with the immediate family and space to enjoy home comforts. Yet with any benefit there are often consequences that we make, compromises simply to save time, get more done or even prevent arguments. Over time these short term compromises or temporary plasters that we use can create long term effects on our health and wellbeing.  

If you have been working from home, maybe you are experiencing neck ache, lower back pain or rounded shoulders and now maybe rocking the hunchback look? Surely this is just normal and it will be fine once you are back in the office.  Actually no. Offices are built in accordance with health and safety regulations but the sofa, kitchen table or bed unfortunately as glorious as it sounds, after three months or more, will start to cause some kind of pain and the long term effects will have already begun to set in.

Office ergonomics research has discovered a direct link between improvement of musculoskeletal improvement and working on an ergonomically set up work station.* An ergonomic work station is recommended in order to prevent repetitive strain injuries and aches and pains in the neck, shoulder, back and other potential musculoskeletal disorders. But what if you are already experiencing these symptoms after lockdown? It does not mean you need to rush to the gym as they begin to reopen. If anything, unless you know what you are doing, you may cause more harm than good. You can do simple Pilates movements from home to support optimal realignment to help reduce those aches and pains.  

What is Pilates?  

Pilates is a specific set of exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility, posture and mental awareness. Many of my clients love how pilates allows them to switch off and focus on themselves with benefits including reduced aches and pains and improved sleep. The ‘hunchback’ in terms of postural alignment is known as kyphosis and Pilates is renowned for it’s ability to release these aches and pains to allow you to stand taller without the aching joints and tense muscles. Prevention is better than a cure so if you can create a suitable work space that will be step one and here’s some ideas below as to how you can set up effectively:

Step two. Take a look at our video on three quick and easy desk pilates exercises that you can incorporate throughout your day to realign your spine, increase flexibility and improve posture.

Sitting for long amounts of time compresses our spine* and in turn trigger those aches and pains in our lower backs. Walking is so important to lengthen the spine and get the blood flowing to support not only our musculoskeletal health but our immune system too. The Government incorporated the 30 minute daily walks for a reason. What better way to enjoy a walk than supporting our mental health, and we are blessed with so many beautiful green spaces in south east London, so get out and enjoy it.

Annabel Jeffcoate is an exercise professional, Pilates practitioner and holistic health coach specialising in women’s movement, confidence and health. Annabel specialises in creating exercise routines to harmonise the body, destress and build confidence for the high achieving female with a busy lifestyle.  

* References:

Michelle M. Robertson & Michael J. O’Neill (2003) Reducing Musculoskeletal Discomfort: Effects of an Office Ergonomics Workplace and Training Intervention, International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 9:4, 491-502, DOI: 10.1080/10803548.2003.11076585

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