Are You a Computer Slave? How Massage Therapy Can Benefit You
Even if you love your desk job, working at a computer all day can be a pain in the neck…and back, shoulders, hips, head….
If you’re like most folks, when you sit at your computer, your shoulders are slumped and rounded forward, your head is held forward as if you can WILL the computer screen to come closer to your face, your feet may be tucked under your chair or you may cross one leg over the other. And by the end of the day, or when you’re getting out of bed the next morning, or—if you’re lucky—maybe months or YEARS down the road, it hits ya. Pain, stiffness, headaches, maybe even chronic digestion problems. All thanks to being a computer slave.
And let’s be honest, I feel your pain, because I hold this cruddy posture too. I’m doing it as I’m writing this (hel-LO crossed legs!) and have to consciously force myself to put my feet flat on the floor and straighten my spine and shoulders. Because when you sit this way, certain back, neck, and chest muscles become overly contracted and shortened from having to support your head and spine in this position, while other muscles become overly weakened and lengthened. This imbalance gives you that pain, stiffness, and tension. You’re also essentially smooshing your blood vessels, reducing blood supply to your muscles, resulting in more pain, plus an increased risk of fatigue and a higher chance of injury, not to mention less oxygen to your brain. Not pretty.
Okay, enough blah blah blah about how the computer is wrecking my body. I ain’t giving up my PC anytime soon, so what can we do about it?
The beauty of massage for us computer slaves is that your therapist can identify which of those neck, back, shoulder, or hip muscles are in that shortened or lengthened pattern and manually help coax them back to their intended state. Through both superficial and deep work with those muscles’ fibers and the surrounding fascia (the “Saran Wrap” that covers everything in our bodies and has recently been shown to play a major role in posture), massage therapy can relax and create length in those overly contracted bits and “wake up” and create breadth in those poor stretched-out and weakened muscles (like that spot between your shoulder blades. You know the one I’m talking about). Between the work that your massage therapist does during your sessions plus the stretches and posture tweaks that they’ll show you how to do at home, your body starts to get a sense of “Oh, right, THIS is how I’m supposed to carry myself.” The next time you’re at your desk, maybe you’re more aware of those shoulders creeping forward and you take a deep breath and slowly bring them back and down away from your ears, maybe you pull your head up straight and take notice how—even though it’s not your “normal”—it feels…right. Suddenly you’re one step further away from that chronic pain and tension, one step closer to feeling better, not just after your massage, but every day.