Can you imagine what your body would look like if it were designed so that you could efficiently sit at a desk for 8 hours/day? Not pretty, right? Believe it not, the tension that you feel in your back from sitting in one position all day is your body’s attempt to make it easier for you to do your job. For instance, the typical desk posture involves a forward hunch of the shoulders. In this position, the pectoral muscles in the chest are clenched and because of their inverse relationship with the muscles that support the spine, the trapezius and the erectors muscles are being forced into a constant elongated state. When the body sees that that you are working so hard to hold this precarious position, it bolts into action to help you by producing extra fascia (the web-like tissue that holds the muscles in place) and it begins winding it around the muscles to eventually form a cast that holds the muscles in a clenched position. Unfortunately, this kind of help is what ends up creating those tension knots in your shoulders and between your shoulder blades. These areas become painful when the blood is unable to circulate through the muscle tissue properly.
The Desk Job: Part 1
In the ideal desk experience, the shoulders are rolled back and relaxed, the shoulder blades are laying flat, and the spine is allowed to have it’s natural arch with each vertebrae stacked nicely above the next. This posture can be achieved by sitting up straight with your feet flat on the floor and pretending to balance an apple on top of your head. Try it out. Your co-workers will love it! Stretching your legs throughout the day is also helpful, so make sure to take breaks to mill about. If you find yourself slouching at the desk, there is an easy stretch that you can do to open your chest that will demonstrate to your body the relaxed posture that you are working to achieve.
Simply take your right hand and slide it up a doorframe at 135 degree angle. While grasping the doorframe, rotate your torso to the left until you feel a nice stretch. (See Mary Streepy demonstrate below)
Now , if you find yourself in the situation where you already have the build-up of tension in the back, there is no amount of stretching that will break down the accumulated layers of fascia. This is precisely when you need to schedule a therapeutic ashiatsu session and perhaps even a combination with cupping to really break it down quickly. If the build up is substantial, don’t worry. You will just need to schedule a few sessions in a row (about one week apart) to break down the accumulated layers so that you can get a fresh start. Once your muscle tissue freed up, you and your therapist can work out a preventative healthcare plan that can include routine maintenance treatments throughout the year to keep the knots from building up. In the meantime, practice better sitting posture. If your chair doesn’t allow for good posture, perhaps it is time to invest in a chair that does. If you plan to continue spending many hours sitting at a desk, you owe it to yourself to make adjustments now that will save your back for the long run.