While many of us can’t avoid spending working or studying hours at a desk, we can do things to minimize our discomfort and to ease aches and pains associated with sitting at a desk. Last month we talked about neck, shoulder, and upper back pain. Be sure to check out that post if you missed it. Today’s focus is on low back and forearm pain and what you can do to get rid of it, tips to prevent it, and how massage therapy can help.
When you come in for a massage, let’s chat about how you spend your day: working, sleep positions, activities, sports, childcare, etc. We can pinpoint how you are using your body and how that might contribute to any aches and pains you have. I will target your massage to reduce any pain or discomfort you may have, and we can put together a simple but effective treatment plan to get you feeling great.
Desk Pain #3: After I’ve been siting for a while, my low back pain really flares up!
Why? When you are in a seated position, muscles in your lower body shorten up even though you feel relaxed. Though it might be hard to believe, your hamstrings and hip flexors are actually tightening up and become shorter over time. These muscles attach to your pelvis and therefore pull on your low back when they are tight.
What to do: My #1 tip is to stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors. Try to get up from your desk at least every few hours. Walk around a bit to get the circulation going. A great stretch with a lot of “bang for your buck” is to fold forward at your hips (like you are trying to touch your toes). Bend your knees as much as you need to so that you don’t feel uncomfortable. You should feel a light stretch. Let your head hang heavy and you will also get a great stretch in your upper back and neck as your spine lengthens, bonus! As you become more flexible, straighten your knees little by little to feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings and calves.
Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds and up to a minute for the greatest impact.
What Massage Can Do: When you come in, we can focus on lengthening your hamstrings and eliminating trigger points in the hip flexors. Pin and stretch techniques will lengthen your hamstrings that have adaptively shortened over time, and trigger point therapy can hone in on specific painful adhesions that are leaving you restricted and consequently effecting your low back. Your stretching will be more effective on your own after this type of bodywork treatment. We will of course work on your low back as well which feels awesome!
Desk Pain #4: My forearm(s) hurt by my elbows and I’m developing wrist pain
Why? Typing and operating a computer requires a lot of coordination from your hand and wrist muscles which attach up at your elbow. When you do a lot of typing, you are using your forearm flexors which can lead to pain on the inside of your elbow and wrist. Your mouse hand uses your forearm extensors and can cause pain on the top of your elbow.
What to do: It’s really key to make sure your forearms and hands are in the most ergonomic position possible. It’s inexpensive to purchase wrist pads for keyboards. When reading e-mails and not typing, take your wrist off of the mouse as having your hand stay in this position for a long time causes tension. Also, try using your mouse with your left hand to give your right one a break if it is giving you pain.
What Massage can Do: When you come in for your massage session, we can do some extensive forearm work. Myofascial release works well for the wrists, and trigger point therapy is helpful for the elbows. Cupping at the elbows with small cups can also be helpful for stubborn areas. Muscle stripping working deeply and parallel to the forearm muscles is also very effective. I will of course give you some customized stretches once you’ve been evaluated and treated so you can continue your self- care at home and work.
If you are suffering from any “desk pains” come on in for a pain management massage and we can get you feeling better. I can help you come up with some new techniques to try at work to improve your posture and self-care routine. As always, reach out with any questions, I’m here for you!