Posture pain 1

Are you feeling pain now you’re back at work? Can massage help?

Sarah massage

“massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and wellbeing”

ARE YOU FEELING FAMILIAR ACHES AND PAINS AGAIN NOW THAT YOU’RE BACK AT WORK?

After enjoying some down time over the Christmas break, you may have noticed your lower back pain eased, your shoulders didn’t seem so stiff, and your neck didn’t ache as much as it usually does.  Now that you’re back at work are you starting to feel those familiar niggles creep back in? There are a number of things within our control that can be changed to improve how we feel day to day. Here are a few reasons why those aches and pains are beginning to resurface now you’ve returned to work.


WHY AM I GETTING PAIN?

1

BAD POSTURE

 Having correct posture while working at a desk, on your feet, or lifting and moving things will decrease the risk of getting spinal pain – how you hold your body in correct anatomical position is instrumental in determining how you feel at the end of the day.  Obviously?

Like when putting a piece of furniture together – it's important to make sure everything is lined up properly, so everything is level and balanced. That way it won’t be unsteady, and it can provide maximum support for you.

The same goes for our bodies. We need to make sure our hips, spine, shoulders, and neck are level, balanced and in proper alignment.  This helps our brain and our bodies function optimally. On top of this, you also need our work station set up in the correct way.  If you sit at a desk your chair needs to be adjusted to the right height so your feet are flat on the floor, and your forearms can rest on the edge of the desk.

2

SITTING FOR EXTENDED PERIODS

Do you catch the train to work? The bus? Or do you drive? All of these things have something in common –you are sitting down. And then when you get to work, it’s quite possible that you will sit down for 7, 8 or even 9 hours. Sometimes this is unavoidable in your profession. But most of the time we are able to get up and move around throughout the day - we just don’t.

Being in a static position for extended periods of time can create pressure on the neck and lower back and is often the cause of pain.  Sitting at a desk with incorrect posture can also cause internal rotation of the shoulders (also known as rounded shoulders), and it puts a lot of strain through the thoracic, or mid-back region. People who cross their legs under their desk can also cause an imbalance through the hips, as usually they are in the habit of always crossing their legs to a certain side.

3

NOT GETTING ENOUGH EXERCISE

The endorphins that are released during exercise play an important part in our mood, with serotonin boosting your mood and overall sense of well-being. Not only does your brain love it, but your body does too. Our bodies were built to move. Yes - sometimes if we overdo it, we can end up feeling a bit sore after a workout. But more often than not, moving will help your body feel better, and iron out those aches and niggles that come from our long days at work.

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4

STRESS

Everyone processes stress differently. No matter if it is internalised or verbalised, or whether it comes from workload, environment, relationships or personal life. Stress can take up a large amount of space in our brain, but it can also manifest itself physically. If not dealt with properly (and again that process is different for everyone), the physical implications can be seen in the way of problems sleeping, headaches, migraines, neck pain, shoulder pain, stiffness through the upper back, and clenching and tightness of the jaw.

HOW CAN MASSAGE HELP?

Massage is the manual treatment of soft tissue that helps to create a change in the tone or tension of a muscle by use of different techniques such as myofascial release, Cross-fibre frictions, petrissage, trigger point and deep tissue treatments. Massage can play a positive role reducing the frequency or intensity of your aches and pains, or even alleviate them completely, as well as improving your overall well-being. Here are just a few reasons why massage should become part of your healthy lifestyle.

Pros

  • IT INCREASES BLOOD CIRCULATION: A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including pooling of the fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Massage can help to facilitate circulation because the pressure created by various massage techniques actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. The squeezing and pulling also flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs.
  • REDUCES TENSION IN MUSCLES: Massage therapy aims to relax the muscle tissue, which reduces painful contractions and spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression. To understand this, consider that when muscles are contracted, they sometimes compress the nerves around them. When these muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed, and, in theory, can get proper nutrients and operate more efficiently. The nerves can assume their normal work of transmitting messages to and from the brain, which improves functioning of the muscles and organs, leaving us with less aches and pains.
  • REDUCES STRESS: Stress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases, whether it be physical, mental or emotional changes.  Research has shown that it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increase the production of endorphins (your body's natural "feel good" chemical). Serotonin and dopamine are also released through massage, and the result is a feeling of calm relaxation that can make stress much easier to overcome. Clinical studies show that even a single 1 ½-hour session can significantly lower your heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels -- all of which explain why massage therapy and stress relief go hand-in-hand. 
  • IT CAN INCREASES RANGE OF MOVEMENT AND POSTURE:  When poor posture is kept for a long time, some muscles are forced to work much harder, while others became weak and overstretched. This unbalance puts the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons under continuous stress. Massage can be used effectively to loosen the muscles made tight and sore because of bad posture and helps to create a new balance between muscles groups. Massage helps to alleviate any restrictions of build-up in the muscles and when it is released, this muscle and its opposite muscle will contract more easily to create more balanced functionality of our body.
  • IT GETS YOU READY TO MOVE! Muscles will recover on their own as a natural process, so all we really need to do to assist this process is increase circulation, flushing out lactic acid and bringing in fresh oxygen rich blood. While massage does not directly increase energy, it does reduce fatigue and often decreases the symptoms that sap our energy, resulting in us feeling better. Massage therapy can reduce the chronic symptoms of pain, depression and sleep deprivation that that sap our energy. By reducing stress and pain levels and bringing the body into a state of relaxation, many people are able to finally reach a state of healing sleep, reducing fatigue and improving energy levels overall. If you are feeling better, and have more energy, you are more likely to get out and about, do a workout or go for a run. All of these things cumulate to allow us to have a better quality of life.

Conclusion:

Cast aside any thoughts that massage is only a way to indulge or pamper yourself. On the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition, a soft tissue injury or are looking for a way to combat stress. Returning to work after a significant period of ‘downtime’ over the Christmas break can cause niggles, pains, poor posture or stress to resurface. Now is the time to get on top of your health, improve your day to day quality of life, manage your stress, and reduce muscle tension by building regular massages into your lifestyle.


Research References:

6 Things to know about massage therapy for health purposes. (2014). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/massage.

Adams, R.; White, B.; Beckett, C. (2010). The effects of massage therapy on pain management in the acute care setting.  International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. 3(1). Retrieved on March 7, 2016 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3091428/pdf/ijtmb-3-1-4.pdf.

Kargarfard, M., Lam, E. T., Shariat, A., Shaw, I., Shaw, B. S., & Tamrin, S. B. (2015). Efficacy of massage on muscle soreness, perceived recovery, physiological restoration and physical performance in male bodybuilders. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(10), 959-965. Retrieved March 07, 2016 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26334128.

Massage therapy for health purposes: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/massage/massageintroduction.htm. Accessed Nov. 4, 2015.

Moyer CA. Affective massage therapy. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2008;1(2):3–5. PubMed #21589715. ❐ PainSci #54758. ❐

Shulman KR, Jones GE. The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the work place. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. 1996;32:160–173


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