Ridding Yourself of (and Preventing) “Computer Pains” Yang Sheng Style
Beka Owens, LMT
Most of us know the aches and pains of sitting at a computer too long: sore neck, tight back, achy fingers. You have probably heard the advice to get up and walk around every 15-20 minutes to give your body a break. How many of you actually do that? It’s hard when you get on a roll, get busy, or simply forget to do it. The results are those pains I mentioned. So then what? There are a few simple self-massages and stretches that can help alleviate those pains you feel.
First, close your eyes and roll your chair away from the computer, or close your laptop. Tip your head down as far as you can – feel that stretch in your upper back? Now, with your head still down, tip your head to the side as far as you can, holding the stretch for 10-20 seconds. Roll your head around and repeat with the other side, and hold for 10-20 seconds. For extra resistance and a little more stretch, pull gently with your hand on your head. Don’t forget to breathe while you do this. For extra tight necks, rub your fingers, from bottom to top, along your neck while your head is tilted to the side. This will help to loosen the muscles even more.
Next, press your fingers into the fleshy area just below your skull, where your neck connects to your head, in the back. Rub around in small circles, starting at the top and working your way down the neck. Make sure you get the sides of your neck, too.
Sit up as straight as you can, drop your shoulders and push them back. Reach across the front of your body and grab the top of your shoulder (your upper trapezius muscles) and squeeze. Move your hand over to squeeze your deltoids (upper part of your should), then move down your arm and hand with a squeezing motion. Repeat on the other side.
Take your hands and interlace the fingers. Turn your palms outward and stretch away from you. Raise your arms up, with the goal of getting them above your head. Breathe out as you raise your arms. Hold for 20 seconds (remembering to breathe), and then open your arms outward and stretch as far as you can, all the way out through your fingertips. While keeping your arms straight, pull your arms back until you feel a good stretch in your biceps. Drop your arms slowly to your sides.
With your eyes closed, sit up as tall and straight as you can again. Push your shoulders back and down as far as they will go. Remember how this position feels and try to sit like this as often as you can and as long as you can throughout the day. Open your eyes slowly, take a deep breath and walk around for a few minutes to stretch your legs. Doing these simple stretches and massages will help prevent long term problems, especially if you can do them several times during the day.
[Rebekah F. Owens LMT, NCTMB – has been a massage therapist since 2004. In her practice, she integrates traditional massage healing techniques with a relaxing atmosphere to create a holistic and effective style sure to help almost any client. She works with all age groups and is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor. Ms. Owens works full-time as a coordinator for the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Integrative Medicine, and is a part-time massage therapist in Severna Park, MD. Ms. Owens has a Bachelor’s degree in Allied Health from Towson University, and is pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Sociology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.]