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Office Workers Syndrome: A New Condition to Focus on with Your Massage Therapist
Symptoms of consistent office work involving prolonged sitting involve the neck and shoulders predominantly, but truly affect the entire body. Focusing on postural distortions and resulting chronic pain symptoms with a RMT can be of benefit.
The problem, from the perspective of a registered massage therapist, is that the human body was not designed to sit for upwards of 12 hours. Many people do find time for exercise every week, and while this is important, activity is not the solution to the problem. When we are sitting for such extended periods of time during our day, our structure starts to change. This change occurs not in your neck and shoulders, where most people start to feel the discomfort, but in your legs. In a seated position your hamstrings and adductors are in a shortened position. When you take into account the amount of time that you are sitting each day, the body will end up adapting to accommodate this problem.
The shortening of the muscle fibers contributes to a constant force that acts on your hips which will rotate your hips posteriorly. It will be visibly noticeable, most people affected will have been aware of the hip rotation for a long time. For example, if you think you have a “flat bottom,” it’s not due to a lack of muscle, it’s due to the fact your pelvis is rotated posteriorly. This rotation will start a chain reaction all the way up your body. First, you will find that the curve in lower back has increased, this will cause your lower back to hurt. Second, the curve that has increased in your lower back will lead your upper thorax/chest to tilt posteriorly. This will then result in your scapula/shoulder blades functioning more on a pivot or point rather than lying flat along your thorax/upper chest as they should. When the scapula are not functioning on an optimal surface, the muscles in the area have to compensate for the imbalance, causing the shoulder and neck pain. Vancouver RMT Michael Scottnicki practicing at Broadway Wellness, a local Massage Therapy clinic, explains, “In my experiences, so far, treating the upper back/neck is great for symptomatic relief. If you are looking for longer lasting results, we have to address the shortening of the muscles and fascia in other regions, especially in the legs/hamstrings.”
This is a great example of when initial symptoms of pain may not lead us to the root of the issue. Consulting with a massage therapist is a great way to trace discomfort back the origin of imbalance.