Reducing Neck and Shoulder Pain Caused by Computer Strain: Part One — Awareness

In any given week, 70 to 90 % of our massage clients come in complaining of neck and shoulder pain. That’s a lot pain for a lot of folks and most of it’s due to long hours spent in front of a computer each day.

It’s no secret, computers have become an indispensable part of all our daily lives. Because of this, we tend to sit in front of them for hours at a time, sometimes without remembering to blink and without the awareness that our bodies need to move. Often we end up sitting with our chins jutting forward, becoming more and more immobile. And with weight of the average human head being 10 to 20 lbs, when our heads are forced into a position that is too far forward, our neck muscles simply cannot support this weight properly.

As massage therapists (in addition to helping you work out the kinks generated by all of this repetitive stress and strain on the body) we like to teach alignment techniques and exercises to our clients who spend time inordinate amounts of time at a computer.

Here’s a simple list of little things you can do, throughout the day, to help bring your body into alignment:

  • Set a timer on your computer to go off every hour, stand up drop your shoulders and rotate them.
  • Put a sticky note on your screen that says B R E A T H E! !
  • Move your mouse to a different location every day
  • Try different kinds of mouses, including a roller ball
  • Teach your non-dominant hand to use the mouse
  • Change the height of your chair until you are looking straight at the screen
  • Keep a glass of water handy, we often forget to hydrate, drink it when the timer goes off
  • Move your keypad to your lap and back to your tray, always keeping your arms close to your body while typing
  • Move the waste paper basket far away so you have to get up
  • Move your pile of papers so you have to get up to get them
  • Do stretching exercises to keep your muscles limber and strain at minimum
  • Come see us for deep tissue massage or trigger point therapy to help regain balance and flexibility

Look for Part Two in this series, Stretches.

An important part of staying healthy is having a good workstation. We recommend the OSHA website for great tips on optimizing your ergonomics.

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