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The Curse of the Desk Job

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

When you come for your first massage, we go through a consultation process together. This is important as we get to know each other a little and it lets me know what are the main reasons you have come for a massage. Much of the consultation is around physically how are you and what aches, pains or twinges you live with that massage can help alleviate.

One of the most common problems that clients present with is upper back, shoulder and neck strain caused by…. Sitting at a computer for long periods! Often this is compounded by working from home, without the correct set up of chair and desk.

So how does desk working affect us physically? Recent research has shown that the average office worker will spend between 4 and 9 hours a day sitting at a desk. This equates to approximately 67 sedentary days a year. This highlights how important our sitting position is – as we are spending so long there!

If our computer isn’t the right height, as in the photo above, we can find ourselves looking down. Looking at our phones is even worse for this! We also can jut our head forward to see better.

We have more than 20 muscles in our neck from the base of the skull to the shoulder blades and collar bone. Prolonged periods in the wrong position can lead to muscle weakness, and other muscle groups taking over the job of holding the head up. This can result in neck pain, headaches, and stiffness (loss of range of movement) across the whole neck and upper shoulders.

There is an overall diagnosis for this, known as Upper Cross Syndrome. It has a distinctive appearance with rounded shoulders, a small hunch, and the head positioned forward. While this affects primarily the upper back, neck and skull, the stress can radiate outwards and affect the lower back also.

For extreme cases, a visit to the Chiropractor may be in order! They may do a manual realignment to relieve pain and inflammation.

Looking at a screen for a long time can also lead to mental fog, fatigue and tiredness. The ‘blue light’ emitted from screens has the potential to harm vision, and Ophthalmologists recommend frequent breaks to look out the window or across the room.

How can massage help?

Massage of the soft tissues and muscles can help relieve the pain, soreness and stiffness. Swedish massage works to lengthen and relax muscles and tissues. Even if the pain is located in just one area, for example the neck, the muscle groups are all connected and so a massage should cover the whole upper back, shoulders, neck and base of the skull. Scalp massage is also very beneficial for headaches.

Trigger point massage can be applied to those knotty areas where your muscles have tensed up and won’t relax. This can be uncomfortable but with regular sessions the knots should dissipate along with the associated pain and your range of movement should improve.

Massage can also help relieve the pressure and inflammation caused by trapped nerves, which can occur with muscle tension. A trapped nerve is where a joint or muscle places pressure on a nerve, and it can cause pain and inflammation.

If you would like to know any stretches or self massage techniques for in-between massage appointments, just drop me a line or comment below.


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