Massage Therapy in the Workplace
Sitting at a desk and looking at a computer all day can be a real pain in the neck – and a pain in many other parts of your body. Sitting, or even standing all day can be rough on the body, and office workers can frequently suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain, back pain and headaches. This can be worsened by poor ergonomics in your work station, and may be improved by adding some movement into your day, and can be alleviated even more by receiving regular massage therapy treatments. Many people have jobs that involve a lot of sitting in one position, but this does not need to mean that chronic pain is inevitable.
Stretch At Your Desk
You can actively help prevent desk-related pain by creatively adding some movement into your day. Here are just a few examples of stretches that can easily be done at work to prevent or reduce stiffness and pain.
Place one hand under your elbow, lift your elbow, and stretch it across your chest. Don’t rotate your body as you stretch. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, and you should feel tension in the back of your shoulder. Relax slowly, return to the starting position, and repeat the stretch with the other arm.
Place your hands behind your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together, bringing your elbows back as far as possible. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat.
With your face straight ahead, lower your chin into your chest, and hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. You should feel tension in the back of your neck. Relax and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
Turn your head to one side while keeping your shoulders straight. While holding the stretch, you’ll feel the tension in the side of your neck and your shoulder. Relax and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
Lower back stretch
Sit forward in your chair. Bend one of your knees towards your chest, and use your hands to grab the back of your thigh and gently pull it towards you. Be careful not to lean forward, and keep your back straight. Holding the stretch for 30 seconds, you should feel tension in the lower part of your back and the upper part of your buttock. Relax and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the stretch with the other leg.
You can do any of these stretches, or many others, throughout the day to help prevent your muscles from feeling sore and tight. Any questions, or looking for more ways to stretch at work? Ask your RMT!
Proper Office Ergonomics
Proper office ergonomics – which includes chair height, equipment spacing and desk posture, can save you from a career of neck and back pain. There are several simple steps you can take to make your workstation more comfortable. You should adjust your chair so your feet can rest flat on the floor or use a footrest so your knees are about level with your hips. Things you use often, like your phone or stapler, should be kept close by to minimize reaching. Your mouse should also be within easy reach, and on the same surface as your key board. When typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body and your hands slightly at or below the level of your elbows. Your monitor should be directly in front of you, about arm’s length away, and the top of the screen should be at eye level.
Massage Therapy Can Help
Back pain, neck pain, and pain in the upper extremities are all common complaints among office workers. These injuries can result in lost work time, lack of productivity, and even in limitations on other everyday activities. Musculoskeletal disorders cause the individual pain, and they can also be costly. Estimates from 2006 state that musculoskeletal disorders cost Canada $20 billion each year – a number that’s likely higher now. Massage therapy can help stop work from becoming a pain.
MTAS gratefully acknowledges the Registered Massage Therapists' Association of Ontario (RMTAO) for their generous permission to use the material in this section.
Mayo Clinic. (January 4, 2017). Slide show: Office stretches. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/stretching/sls-20076525.