With the increased prevalence of technology in the work place, many jobs are becoming desk or computer oriented.
People are spending hours in a ‘static’ unmoving position, with little to no variation in this posture. For our bodies, this translates to immobility of the joints, and a constant tension on the muscles supporting those joints. Often this tension is held while the muscle is over-lengthened, meaning it has to work harder for the same result.
What does this mean for us?
Decreased mobility of the joints affects the body’s ability for full movement, such as turning your head, and can cause a feeling of stiffness. Having constant tension on the muscles as they work to sustain your posture can develop areas of aggravation or knots. These knots can become painful, and that irritation may travel, resulting in often debilitating symptoms such as headaches.
While we cannot change the overall nature of our jobs, there are small adjustments that can be made to help counteract the hours of static posture. One such change is to keep computer monitors at eye level where possible, and adjust your seat height so your feet are flat on the floor. This will result in a more upright posture, decreasing strain on the muscles and joints of the neck and back.
The next adjustment is perhaps one of the biggest: Take frequent breaks. Make those breaks as productive as you need, whether it is printing that report one printer farther away, spending five to 10 minutes outside moving at lunch, or walking down the hall to talk to a coworker instead of emailing. Small breaks with dynamic, or moving postures, will help bring mobility back to the joints and stretch the muscles.
Lastly, it is important to increase your activity levels outside the workplace. Whether you choose to start a yoga class, take a daily walk, or train for a triathlon, these are dynamic activities that will help counteract the hours at work spent in one position.
Just as with taking frequent breaks, these activities will help stretch your muscles and keep mobility at the joints, but they will also build strength. The stronger your muscles and joints are, the easier it becomes for your body to recover from hours in a static posture.
If you’re experiencing chronic discomfort at work and/or are developing symptoms such as headaches, massage can provide relief. Make an appointment with your registered massage therapist for an assessment and treatment. Your massage therapist will be able to help determine the sources of your discomfort, and can also provide you with a home care plan based on your particular health history and symptoms.