In the 3 years I have been in practice as an LMT, the most common complaint by far is pain in the shoulders and neck. This issue has become so prevalent in the past few years due to modern technologies such as computers, cell phones, and tablets that it has been given a name in the medical field of Tech Neck.
Tech neck can range from mild or annoying discomfort to severe shooting pain due to herniated or bulging cervical (neck) discs, numbness in the arms/hands, severe headaches, migraines and can sometimes even lead to surgery on the cervical spine. In fact, in just the past 15 years we have seen a 30% increase in cervical fusions and it"s no secret that modern technology plays a role in that increase. Just look around a room, restaurant or office and you will see an astounding number of people looking down at a screen. I have had patients as young as 8 come in with chronic neck pain that is linked to use of a personal electronic device. So what can we do to fix this issue?
Well, obviously, being a Massage Therapist, I am going to recommend message to help balance out the muscle dysfunction. Generally clients that come in complaining of neck and shoulder pain are suffering from sore overstretched posterior (back) neck and shoulder muscles combined with shortened tight anterior (front) neck and pectoral muscles. The push and pull happening in these areas is what results in the chronic pain and "knots" or adhesions that so many clients complain of, but massage alone won't be enough. Being mindful of your posture while you are working at a computer, texting, playing games and anything else you use your device for is crucial as well. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Standing desks can be a huge benefit in neck, shoulder and low back pain but keep in mind that the monitor should be at eye level so that your neck is straight and elbows are rested at your sides.
- If a standing desk is not an option, be sure to at least elevate your monitor or lower your chair so that your head and eyes are looking straight ahead rather than down. And get up often and walk the room/office. Movement is your best friend!
- While on your phone or tablet, bring the device up to eye level keeping your back straight and head level, laying on your back can also help, just don't drop it! Ouch!
STRETCH STRETCH STRETCH. We often want to stretch those posterior neck and shoulder muscles because those are the ones that hurt but they are already overstretched and actually need more slack than stretch. So instead, focus on stretching those Pecs and anterior neck muscles! Laying on your back with a rolled up towel under your spine and arms stretched out for at least 5 minutes is a great lazy way to stretch the pecs. Lay with your head off the edge of the bed to make it even better!
- Last but certainly not least is of course MASSAGE! Our professionals can help get you back in balance and show you detailed stretches to do daily to get you feeling pain free!
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