What’s Causing Your Pain and What YOU Can Do
Laptops, computers, tablets, cell phones . . . the way we use these devices can contribute to conditions such as carpal tunnel, stiff neck, aching shoulders, and even pain, tingling and numbness in the legs. Here’s some low or no-cost things YOU can do!
Overuse and Workplace Ergonomics. Your computer setup could be the source of your pain. When sitting at your computer, placement of the monitor, keyboard and mouse are very important. Your arm should be able to hang naturally from your shoulder with your elbow bent at a 90◦ angle. You should be able to reach over to your mouse with very little movement. The more you reach for your mouse and hold that position, the more strain you put on your neck and shoulders. Doing this for a minute or two may not harm you, but over the course of a day at work for months or even years, it will catch up to you. Rearrange your workstation, raise/lower your chair with support for your back and feet if necessary, keep your monitor at eye level, and take frequent breaks. Prolonged sitting can lead to pain, tingling and numbness in the legs, as well as low back pain. Every 30 minutes or so you should get up and stretch, touch your toes, walk around your cubicle. If you are in the middle of a project and don’t want to stop, then arrange your workstation so you can easily switch to a standing position for awhile. I have a friend who drinks LOTS of water, just so she will have to get up and go to the bathroom frequently. Whatever it takes --- DO IT! It will make a difference over time. Your neck and shoulders didn’t get this way over night. It will take a little time to undo what has been done.
Posture. We all do it --- slumping at our desk, slumping over our cell phones and tablets, or reaching our necks forward to see the screen better. This effects the neck, shoulders, back and the pectoral muscles in the chest. The best way to correct this is to STOP LOOKING DOWN! Make sure your computer, phone, and/or tablet are at eye level. Bring your phone up instead of looking down. Raise your computer monitor to eye level. The laptop and tablet are a little harder to correct, but a wireless keyboard can help.
Stretching. Along with the corrective actions suggested, stretching will be your best friend. Muscles get tight, shorten, and learn to hold themselves in unnatural positions. Stretching helps to lengthen and relax the muscles, restoring flexibility and range of motion. However, it's effects are only lasting if done consistently over time. You can’t correct months or years of slumping in one stretch. Stretch the pectoral muscles so they don’t start pulling the shoulders forward, which can lead to having the Dowager’s Hump between your scapulas. Gently stretch your neck throughout the day. Stretch out your lower back, and even your glutes. Everyone is short on time, but a consistent stretching routine done on a daily basis is free and can be done in as little of 10 minutes. Trips to the doctor are expensive and rob you of precious, quality time better spent doing something that brings you joy, like spending time with family and friends, playing with your children, or even getting a massage!
Massage. Regular massage can have a significant effect on muscles, increasing circulation, bringing oxygen to your muscles, restoring flexibility, and relieving tightness and tension. In addition, the massage therapist can teach you how to do specific stretches for specific areas, giving you the tools you need to not only prevent further damage to your body, but to improve and maintain your health and wellness. You and your massage therapist can work together to correct imbalances. As a massage therapist, I can help give you the tools YOU need to have better health and a pain-free life.
Take the steps you need to achieve the best for yourself, because we all deserve to live the best life possible, pain free.