How often do you pay attention to what technology devices are doing to your body? Few of us pay attention to our posture and body mechanics while we are using phones, tablets and computers. Most people hold devices low and have their shoulders rolled in and their heads forward and down creating a lot of stress on the muscles of the neck, top of shoulders and between the shoulder blades. Does pain in this area sound familiar? It is one of the most common complaints that I see. It is also one of the easiest to address in just a few sessions. Hands on work will help get you back in balance. I will also work with you on correcting how you sit and work; giving you simple tools to maintain the work done in the office and getting you out on your own as fast as possible.
Below is an excerpt of an article, Massage for Computer Athletes, published in the Spring 2015 Massage Therapy Journal. It helps explain some of the conditions I see and how I may work with you to address them.
Common Workplace Issues
Carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome are two issues that people in an office setting may face and, with these conditions, come a variety of symptoms that massage therapy can help relieve pain being but one.
“Pain, fatigue, weakness, and stiffness in the affected areas are the most common symptoms of these injuries,” explains Deborah Kimmet, a massage therapist and educator from Missoula, Montana. “Numbness and tingling, as well as trigger point referrals, are also common.”
Along with overuse, Kimmet also sees poor posture being the cause of painful conditions affecting the neck, shoulders and back. “For example, a forward head posture can lead to neck pain as the person unconsciously reaches forward with the head to better see the screen,” she says. Additionally, improper posture can sometimes be the result of other conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. “Sometimes, improper posture occurs because the body is trying to find a comfortable position,” Kimmet says.
How Massage Can Help
Massage therapy is proving beneficial in helping clients with chronic pain find relief—and some of these conditions are no different. “Massage therapy can help reduce postural imbalances, nerve entrapment, inflammation in the tissues, and trigger points and their referrals,” Kimmet says. “In addition, massage therapy can address the symptoms caused by nerve compression if the nerve compression is due to improper posture.”
For example, Kimmet sees massage therapy being beneficial for clients who may have a hemipelvis imbalance that might cause back discomfort and pain, or those whose forward head posture is contributing to neck and upper back pain. “A shortening of the anterior musculature in the abdomen and chest that causes back pain can also benefit from massage,” she adds, “as can shortened pronators of the forearms that might be causing forearm, wrist and hand pain.”
Before beginning a massage therapy session, however, you need to be sure you understand the mechanics of your client’s pain. “Assess postural imbalances to guide your treatment,” explains Kimmet. “Then, treat the tissues determined by the postural assessment and those specific to the overuse syndrome diagnosed by the client’s physician, for example.” In order for massage therapy to be effective, you need to understand what muscles are involved in any condition, cautions Kimmet.
When treating the soft tissue, Kimmet suggests starting by warming up the tissue with five minutes of heat and then doing some myofascial work and stripping the area with four or five long strokes. “Then, go somewhere else,” she says. “For example, move to the other arm. This reduces the sensitivity of the area and allows you to work even deeper into the tissues. I never try to get all of the work done in one area at one time. Moving around is less painful and gentler for the client.” If the area is extremely tender, Kimmet encourages massage therapists to go back and repeat the longer strokes. “You can end by doing specific trigger point work and movement education to add more release to the tissues,” she adds.