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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

What sitting at a desk does to the body and how massage can help


What sitting at a desk does to the body and now massage can help.jpg

Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can cause a range of health problems, from muscle and bone pain to circulation issues, poor posture, and mental stress. The human body is not designed to sit in the same position for extended periods of time, and prolonged sitting at a desk, especially without adequate support, can have serious consequences on your health. Unfortunately, our modern society believes that we need to sit and be productive to be considered successful, and lots of expectations get put on us by sitting at that desk which can ultimately cause more harm than good.


Muscles and Bones

Sitting for long periods of time can cause muscle and bone pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, as well as in the hips, legs, and feet. Being in a seated position, and either leaning forward to look at a computer screen, tilting your head to speak on the phone while looking at the computer screen, staring straight down at paperwork, or constant typing or clicking a mouse can all cause muscles to strain and pull into uncomfortable positions. The muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders can become strained and tense due to the lack of movement and poor posture that often accompany extended sitting. This tension can cause pain in these areas, as well as in the hips, legs, and feet due to the pressure put on them from the chair.


Circulation

Sitting for long periods of time can reduce circulation to the legs and feet, leading to swelling, cramping, and even numbness. This is because when we sit, our legs are in a position that restricts blood flow, which can cause our veins to become constricted. Less blood flow in and out of the legs means not as much nutrients are getting to the lower extremities, and likewise, waste and the "bad stuff" isn't getting flushed out as easily. This can lead to poor circulation, which can not only cause pain and discomfort, but can also lead to long-term health issues.

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Posture

Poor posture is a common side effect of sitting at a desk for long periods of time. When we sit in the same position for extended periods of time, our body tends to adapt to the position, leading to poor posture and an increased risk of injury. Poor posture can also put unnecessary strain on our muscles and joints, leading to pain and discomfort. To minimize the health risks associated with prolonged sitting, it’s important to take regular breaks and move around to improve circulation and posture. Additionally, an ergonomically designed chair, properly positioned screens and phone devices can help to provide support and reduce the strain on your muscles and bones. Finally, make sure to practice proper posture and avoid slouching, as this can lead to further health issues.

Mental Clarity and Focus

Mental clarity is especially important for those who work in an office setting, since it can help to improve concentration and productivity. However, our brains work best when reacting to stimuli and sitting staring at a computer screen and not moving for long periods of time limits that stimuli to just what is immediately in front of you. This can go one of two ways with focus: the repetitiveness and lack of stimuli can make you 'zone out' and lose focus because your brain basically gets bored and starts looking for other things to stimulate it. The other extreme is that the brain gets anxious and stressed because it feels like it is missing out on something. That stress can lead to a decrease in productivity, as well as an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression.


How Massage Can Help

Massage therapy is becoming an increasingly popular way to help people who sit at a desk all day. Massage can help improve the symptoms that come from sitting at a desk, as well as reducing stress and increasing energy levels. The main benefit of massage for people who sit at a desk is relaxing and undoing the strain the comes from sitting immobile with poor posture so that the muscles don't freeze up and "learn" to keep the bad muscle patterns. Proper posture is essential for maintaining good health, since it reduces strain on the spine and muscles. Massage can help realign the muscles which helps the spine to allow for improved posture. Regular massage can help to prevent the development of chronic pain, as well as alleviate existing pain. Massage can also help to reduce stress and improve mental clarity by reducing cortisol levels in the body, which can reduce stress and improve overall mood. Finally, massage can help to increase energy levels by improving circulation and . Sitting for long periods of time can make people feel sluggish and drained, which can make it difficult to focus and activating the "feel-good" hormones which can clear the mind and focus more easily to complete tasks. Massage can increase circulation, which can help to re-energize the body and make it easier to stay alert throughout the day. For those who work in an office, massage can be a great way to reduce pain, improve posture, reduce stress, and increase energy levels.

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Massage to help with desk-related issues does't have to be intense to be effective. Massage focused on the neck, back, and shoulders, as well as occasionally the lower back can have great benefits to combat the Many offices will bring in a massage therapist throughout the year to do chair massage for their employees, which is a specialized type of massage focused on the back, neck, and shoulders done in a specially designed chair to allow for easy massage on these areas without the time and privacy needed for disrobing, oils, etc. On your own, a visit to a massage therapist even for just a half hour every 3-6 weeks to focus on the troubled areas for say, 30 minutes, can do wonders for keeping desk-related pain from becoming a chronic issue. The key is recognizing the patterns in how sitting at a desk feels over time, and making sure that new patterns are put in place to counteract the bad patterns.

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