Meghan Krupka, LMT, talks about the demands of your job, the toll it can take on your body, and the office injury it may come with.
According to studies completed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders cost approximately $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs each year. Per data collected in 2013, musculoskeletal disorders also accounted for about 33% of all office injury and illness cases. The most common of these injuries are related to the neck, shoulders and back. In addition, sedentary time and time in front of screens has only increased over the years.
Today, the work hard, play hard and hustle mentalities are the foremost attitudes adopted by many New Yorkers. We spend a lot of time sitting in front of computers, on phones and handling stressful situations. The pile up is causing more and more office related injuries. What can you do to help alleviate your pain? Seek out a medical massage in New York City!
Our bodies are designed to move and be dynamic!
However, modern day work and office culture emphasizes sitting for long periods of time. Prolonged sitting wreaks havoc on our spines. This creates muscle imbalances and restricts our ability to move easily. Over time poor posture can lead to an office injury and inhibit our enjoyment of daily life.
Massage therapy, particularly medical massage, offers a holistic approach to combating office injuries and postures. It goes beyond addressing just the symptoms of your pain. Medical massage can also address emotional issues related to pain and stress such as depression, anxiety and poor sleep. These are also commonly tied to office stressors.
First things: what exactly do we mean by posture? And “good” posture?
Posture refers to how you hold yourself upright. It is how you carry yourself both in motion, stillness, and rest. Posture is dynamic, it is not static. Even when you are still, your muscles are working in concert to keep you upright.
Posture is also your body’s response to any resistance that tries to disrupt your balance. The most well-known resistive force is, of course, gravity 🙂 Our posture is also a collection of our physical and emotional habits in relation to others.
Having “good” posture then means your body is able to adapt to the physical and emotional stresses imposed on it. Without causing you pain. It needs to be able to do this dynamically. “Good” posture is being able to move and change your shape to minimize stress. The “best” posture for any given situation is the most efficient. The one that needs the least muscular force and uses the least amount of energy to sustain.
Therefore, “poor” posture would be highly habitual shapes that overuse muscles and energy to resist outside stressors. The result is an uncomfortable shape. Over time the discomfort will progress to pain or office injury. These “poor” postures frequently arise in an office environment. Let’s face it, our bodies were not designed to sit for long periods. If they were, we’d probably be shaped like a weeble wobble!
Upper Crossed Syndrome: hunched shoulders, rounded back and forward head posture
Upper crossed syndrome is your typical upper body desk posture after a long day of staring at the screen. You are leaning in close to your computer, shoulders rolled forward, head and neck craning towards your screen and upper back is rounding. In this position, your front (anterior) muscles are in a contracted or shortened position. Your back (posterior) muscles are being overstretched. This postural habit, when prolonged, frequently results in neck, shoulder and back pain. It can even end up restricting breathing.
Medical massage therapy in New York City is great for lengthening and encouraging the muscles that are shortened to release. Great medical massage therapists will also provide at-home corrective exercises to address the stretched muscles. These often need strengthening and activation exercises to fully address upper crossed syndrome. These are great ways to combat your office injury.
In an office or desk setting, upper crossed syndrome can often go hand in hand with lower crossed syndrome.
Lower Crossed Syndrome: sleepy glutes, weak abdominals, tight hip flexors and low back pain
What’s under your desk? Your legs! These also have a typical musculoskeletal pattern that they take on when sitting for long periods of time. In lower crossed syndrome, your glutes and abdominals are not being activated. And your hip flexors (front hip muscles) remain in a contracted and shortened position. As with upper crossed syndrome, there are muscles that are being shortened and muscles that are being lengthened.
Counterintuitively, it’s the lengthened muscles that usually ache all day. However, it’s the shortened ones that will give you the most relief by being worked on.
Our medical massage therapists in midtown and the financial district will similarly work to open up and release the contracted muscles. And also provide rehabilitative exercises to strengthen those that are lengthened.
Both upper and lower crossed syndrome usually won’t present pain symptoms until these postures are truly chronic. Thus, massage therapy treatment will likely take more than one session to correct. Full resolution will also require you to do your homework! 🙂
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Support your wrists!
Typing and using your mouse are repetitive motions. They require your wrist to rest on the desk (a hard surface). This puts pressure on the tendons and nerves running through your wrist. Considering how many different tendons run through such a small area, compressing this area is taking away precious real estate!
Inflammation, irritation, weakness and tingling sensations result when the compression becomes too constant. Carpal tunnel is specifically when the median nerve is compressed and results in tingling sensations, weakness and pain. The carpal tunnel is a particularly narrow passageway in your wrist.
The easiest solutions to alleviate compression is to support your wrists or to change your forearm positioning to be more neutral. A neutral hand/wrist position has no bend in the wrist. A soft support underneath your wrists or bringing the keyboard down into your lap can achieve this. This can prevent an office injury!
However, when symptoms become prolonged changing your typing position often isn’t enough to help with the pain. Medical massage therapy is a very valid form of treatment to address the inflammation, pain and tingling. In a medical massage session you can expect the entire length of your arm, shoulder and neck to be worked to fully address the symptoms and root causes.
Mental health is Affected by an Office Injury
The stress that can exist in the workplace or office may also result in mental health or emotional imbalances such as anxiety and depression. These can then lead to problems such as disrupted sleep. Massage therapy does not just affect the musculoskeletal system. In fact, it can be argued that its effects on the nervous system are even more substantial.
Medical massage therapy has the ability to reduce negative feelings because of its influence on your autonomic nervous system. Massage helps your body and mind trigger a state known as “rest and digest.” You literally have a whole different set of nerves for this system called the parasympathetic nervous system. These don’t get used when you are stuck in stress mode.
Over time, being stuck in your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) can cause cortisol addiction. Which leads to chronic fatigue syndrome and cellular breakdown. Wondering why you are in chronic pain at 27? One reason is you need more naps 🙂
When dealing with continual workplace stresses that may cause an office injury, regular massage therapy sessions may help to offset the effects.
Our bodies were meant to move. To be dynamic and adaptive.
Variety in movement (and therefore posture) is a good way to combat postural habits. However, sometimes you find yourself in too much pain and discomfort from an office injury to move as freely as you once did. Medical massage therapy is a solid option and place to start.
One issue is common with many of the previously discussed syndromes. When you try to partake in an activity that demands greater flexibility and strength than you currently have available you can get further injured. For example, when your shoulders are habitually rounded forward, doing overhead activities may be difficult or painful. For some, this can also be as simple as walking to and from work. That’s a big deal to affect such a basic movement.
How we Help you with your Office Injury at Bodyworks DW
At Bodyworks DW, nearly all of our sessions will include a body reading or postural assessment. This is pretty standard regardless of what you are coming in with. We offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy. The number and frequency of needed massage sessions depends on your specific case and how your office injury is affecting you. If you get a Bodyworks DW medical massage in the Midtown area or the Financial District studio, you can be confident of receiving the highest quality care. Would you like to schedule a professional massage for your office injuries with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!