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Massage Therapy for your Office Injury

Massage Therapy for your Office Injury: Why they occur and how to stop them!

Meghan Krupka, LMT, talks about the demands of your job, the toll it can take on your body, and the office injury it may come with.

According to studies completed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders cost approximately $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs each year. Per data collected in 2013, musculoskeletal disorders also accounted for about 33% of all office injury and illness cases. The most common of these injuries are related to the neck, shoulders and back. In addition, sedentary time and time in front of screens has only increased over the years. 

Today, the work hard, play hard and hustle mentalities are the foremost attitudes adopted by many New Yorkers. We spend a lot of time sitting in front of computers, on phones and handling stressful situations. The pile up is causing more and more office related injuries. What can you do to help alleviate your pain? Seek out a medical massage in New York City!

Our bodies are designed to move and be dynamic!

However, modern day work and office culture emphasizes sitting for long periods of time. Prolonged sitting wreaks havoc on our spines. This creates muscle imbalances and restricts our ability to move easily. Over time poor posture can lead to an office injury and inhibit our enjoyment of daily life. 

Massage therapy, particularly medical massage, offers a holistic approach to combating office injuries and postures. It goes beyond addressing just the symptoms of your pain. Medical massage can also address emotional issues related to pain and stress such as depression, anxiety and poor sleep. These are also commonly tied to office stressors. 

First things: what exactly do we mean by posture? And “good” posture?

Posture refers to how you hold yourself upright. It is how you carry yourself both in motion, stillness, and rest. Posture is dynamic, it is not static. Even when you are still, your muscles are working in concert to keep you upright. 

Posture is also your body’s response to any resistance that tries to disrupt your balance. The most well-known resistive force is, of course, gravity 🙂 Our posture is also a collection of our physical and emotional habits in relation to others. 

Having “good” posture then means your body is able to adapt to the physical and emotional stresses imposed on it. Without causing you pain. It needs to be able to do this dynamically. “Good” posture is being able to move and change your shape to minimize stress. The “best” posture for any given situation is the most efficient. The one that needs the least muscular force and uses the least amount of energy to sustain. 

Therefore, “poor” posture would be highly habitual shapes that overuse muscles and energy to resist outside stressors. The result is an uncomfortable shape. Over time the discomfort will progress to pain or office injury. These “poor” postures frequently arise in an office environment. Let’s face it, our bodies were not designed to sit for long periods. If they were, we’d probably be shaped like a weeble wobble!  

Upper Crossed Syndrome: hunched shoulders, rounded back and forward head posture

Upper crossed syndrome is your typical upper body desk posture after a long day of staring at the screen. You are leaning in close to your computer, shoulders rolled forward, head and neck craning towards your screen and upper back is rounding. In this position, your front (anterior) muscles are in a contracted or shortened position. Your back (posterior) muscles are being overstretched. This postural habit, when prolonged, frequently results in neck, shoulder and back pain. It can even end up restricting breathing. 

Medical massage therapy in New York City is great for lengthening and encouraging the muscles that are shortened to release. Great medical massage therapists will also provide at-home corrective exercises to address the stretched muscles. These often need strengthening and activation exercises to fully address upper crossed syndrome.  These are great ways to combat your office injury.

In an office or desk setting, upper crossed syndrome can often go hand in hand with lower crossed syndrome. 

Lower Crossed Syndrome: sleepy glutes, weak abdominals, tight hip flexors and low back pain

What’s under your desk? Your legs! These also have a typical musculoskeletal pattern that they take on when sitting for long periods of time. In lower crossed syndrome, your glutes and abdominals are not being activated. And your hip flexors (front hip muscles) remain in a contracted and shortened position. As with upper crossed syndrome, there are muscles that are being shortened and muscles that are being lengthened. 

Counterintuitively, it’s the lengthened muscles that usually ache all day. However, it’s the shortened ones that will give you the most relief by being worked on. 

Our medical massage therapists in midtown and the financial district will similarly work to open up and release the contracted muscles. And also provide rehabilitative exercises to strengthen those that are lengthened. 

Both upper and lower crossed syndrome usually won’t present pain symptoms until these postures are truly chronic. Thus, massage therapy treatment will likely take more than one session to correct. Full resolution will also require you to do your homework! 🙂

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Support your wrists!

Typing and using your mouse are repetitive motions. They require your wrist to rest on the desk (a hard surface). This puts pressure on the tendons and nerves running through your wrist.  Considering how many different tendons run through such a small area, compressing this area is taking away precious real estate! 

Inflammation, irritation, weakness and tingling sensations result when the compression becomes too constant. Carpal tunnel is specifically when the median nerve is compressed and results in tingling sensations, weakness and pain. The carpal tunnel is a particularly narrow passageway in your wrist. 

The easiest solutions to alleviate compression is to support your wrists or to change your forearm positioning to be more neutral. A neutral hand/wrist position has no bend in the wrist. A soft support underneath your wrists or bringing the keyboard down into your lap can achieve this. This can prevent an office injury!

However, when symptoms become prolonged changing your typing position often isn’t enough to help with the pain. Medical massage therapy is a very valid form of treatment to address the inflammation, pain and tingling. In a medical massage session you can expect the entire length of your arm, shoulder and neck to be worked to fully address the symptoms and root causes. 

Mental health is Affected by an Office Injury

The stress that can exist in the workplace or office may also result in mental health or emotional imbalances such as anxiety and depression. These can then lead to problems such as disrupted sleep. Massage therapy does not just affect the musculoskeletal system. In fact, it can be argued that its effects on the nervous system are even more substantial. 

Medical massage therapy has the ability to reduce negative feelings because of its influence on your autonomic nervous system. Massage helps your body and mind trigger a state known as “rest and digest.” You literally have a whole different set of nerves for this system called the parasympathetic nervous system. These don’t get used when you are stuck in stress mode.

Over time, being stuck in your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) can cause cortisol addiction. Which leads to chronic fatigue syndrome and cellular breakdown. Wondering why you are in chronic pain at 27? One reason is you need more naps 🙂 

When dealing with continual workplace stresses that may cause an office injury, regular massage therapy sessions may help to offset the effects. 

“Your best posture is your next posture”

– Morgan Freeman

Our bodies were meant to move. To be dynamic and adaptive.

Variety in movement (and therefore posture) is a good way to combat postural habits. However, sometimes you find yourself in too much pain and discomfort from an office injury to move as freely as you once did. Medical massage therapy is a solid option and place to start. 

One issue is common with many of the previously discussed syndromes. When you try to partake in an activity that demands greater flexibility and strength than you currently have available you can get further injured. For example, when your shoulders are habitually rounded forward, doing overhead activities may be difficult or painful. For some, this can also be as simple as walking to and from work. That’s a big deal to affect such a basic movement. 

Medical massage, frequent movement, and stretching all complement each other to holistically relieve you of pain caused by a common office injuries and postures. 

How we Help you with your Office Injury at Bodyworks DW

At Bodyworks DW, nearly all of our sessions will include a body reading or postural assessment. This is pretty standard regardless of what you are coming in with. We offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy. The number and frequency of needed massage sessions depends on your specific case and how your office injury is affecting you. If you get a Bodyworks DW medical massage in the Midtown area or the Financial District studio, you can be confident of receiving the highest quality care. Would you like to schedule a professional massage for your office injuries with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!

Mental Health, Loneliness & Medical Massage in New York

Mental Health, Loneliness and Medical Massage in New York

Jess Loewer, LMT at Bodyworks DW, addresses how medical massage in New York can help with your mental health and loneliness. Read below for more information!

Jess Loewer

We live in a fast paced, grind, hustle, burn the midnight oil from both ends of the candle kind of city. We make our bodies go until they can’t, and then we limp through mile markers. Then we bad-mouth our bodies for not being able to handle the life-long marathon we thought we were winning. Most of us don’t even think about the impact this has on our mental health unless things start to feel really bad.

Because it’s the cultural norm, it can be hard to identify when we’ve gone too far, until loneliness and burnout make regular appearances. While we might have company in this misery, I’m happy to reveal the not-so-secret news that there are tools at our disposal to achieve better mental health and self-value. In plain English, you can feel better than you do, without a lot of effort!

Caring for our Mental Health is Physical Health is Mental Health

I’d like to build a case around our mental wellness being physical. If you run a quick search on mental and physical health, you’ll find many ways they’re linked, or that they affect one another. For one example, we now know that the body’s lymphatic system exists within the brain - linking our immune system health directly to our brain health.

Our immune system (ie our body’s waste filtration system) was not thought to cross over the blood/brain barrier before this study’s findings.

We already know that the nutritional content (or lack thereof) of whatever we digest makes its way to our small intestine. This is where we absorb what’s useful into our bloodstream. Our circulatory system transports those nutrients where we need them and deposits plasma, lipids, and debris into our lymphatic system.

Sometimes our digestive system can’t completely eliminate harmful things and they make their way to our bloodstream. Our lymphocytes (white blood cells) kill what we don’t need. The leftover waste is passed back to our bloodstream to be filtered out and eliminated.

A Case for Diet Affecting Mental Health

What this means is that our diet physically affects our brain function on a cellular, nutrient-exchange level. This also might mean that healthy lymphatic drainage (achieved primarily by exercise and movement but also massage and skin brushing) may have real impacts on our mental wellbeing!

This is a big deal. How our brains function on a cellular level is physiological, not just mental. And it is inseparable from the rest of our body’s systems. Our thoughts are affected what we eat, who we spend time with, and how our bodies are moving. And not simply by how well we process our emotions past and present.

Our Bodies Store Our Emotional Memory of Stress Responses and Traumas

How? We’re still getting a better understanding of this process through research and integrative, functional medicine. So far, a lot has been done in the fields of neuroscience, biology, and psychosomatics.

Here’s what we know: When our bodies have a stress response, our endocrine system jumps to sympathetic nervous system mode (freeze, flight or fight). We start pumping stress hormones (mainly adrenaline and cortisol) into the bloodstream. These hit our muscles fast for the purpose of hiding, running away, or fighting.

In the way our bodies were designed to survive, your boss yelling at you would elicit three potential responses: hiding in the corner, running out of the meeting, or punching them in the face. None of these are an option in modern day society, right?!

Our Modern Restraint Takes a Physical Toll

What happens when we don’t let our bodies use that burst of power to get out of the confronting situation? What happens when the stress trigger doesn’t stop? While our adrenal glands stop pumping eventually, those hormones wind up in our muscles. Since you can’t run or fight at the office, your body chooses the “freeze” response (you know how a cockroach just freezes there on the wall…). If you continually engage in a freeze response your muscles and fascia will get stiffer and stiffer.

If the muscles are not restored to resting length, they’ll remember that contracted state as your “new normal.” This is where medical massage therapy can help with not just muscles but also mental health. There’s often an emotional origin to our trigger points, fascial restrictions, and movement patterns. Acknowledging that can help us resolve problematic patterns faster, for true healing and better body mechanics.

So let’s talk about the power of touch!

Our bodies respond with more than just stress responses to keep us safe. We also have restorative hormones produced when we rest and when we’re touched in a compassionate way. Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans. It also decreases cortisol production and increases serotonin and dopamine. While we’re not positive how long that increase lasts, simply getting that physiological change is vital. Medical massage tells our brain it’s both possible and repeatable to relax and be at peace. What the mind can conceive the body can achieve 🙂

What about loneliness? Self care and mental health is really much more nuanced than body chemistry before and after shots can show. Right? It is so much more personal. And generally socially inappropriate to talk about in our culture. Unless we find avenues to communicate our feelings safely, we tend to keep things to ourselves.

It isn’t news to try our hardest to limit chronic stressors, yet here we are...

We may have heard this over and over as general doctor’s advice: keep your stress low! However, we rarely hear about how physical a stress response is. And we rarely hear about what the physiological consequences of chronic stress are. There’s something about New York City that makes us a special breed of compromise-makers.

We compromise our health for our career or lifestyle so easily. We really blast past the health advice. We roll our eyes and put ourselves into adrenal fatigue easily. And call it normal because there’s pride in a NY hustle! And then add in more exercise as if that’s going to counteract all the stress. Or take away things and go on a juice cleanse. Sadly, while these measures can help, they are helping in much smaller amounts than we hope for.

In the tug of war between the stress and the healthy things we do, team “stress” is like an Australian Rugby team and team “health” is like a kindergarten class at nap time.

So what are the actionable steps you can take towards a solid mental health?

1) Behold, my mental wellness toolkit (not an exhaustive list)

2) Practice healthier eating and hydrating

  • Has it been a while since you’ve had dark leafy greens? Get ‘em.
  • Had too much caffeine & traveled this weekend? Drink up on water!
  • Snacking while stressed? Try some healthier snacks such as nuts and fruits

3) Schedule Time With Uplifting People

  • You are the five people you spend the most time with...are those people restoring your or stressing you out?
  • Prioritize people that build you up.
  • Bonus if you get to work alongside these people. (If not, can you find the folks at your office that seem to radiate relaxation? Go have coffee with them!)

4) Joyful Exercise

  • If you don’t have an exercise routine, try something low key but invigorating like the NYT 7 minute workout
  • If you do exercise but aren’t really loving what you are up to anymore, try something new that also engages your learning brain (martial arts, circus arts, ballroom dancing, the Ido Portal method, etc.)
  • Small additions really matter such as just taking the stairs a few times a week rather than the elevator
  • If you’re not enjoying what your body can do for you, welcome to 2019, where we can make new rules for our workouts 🙂

5) Add in some simple Meditation and mindfulness, play and creativity

6) Get out and spend some time in nature! (Nature deficit disorder can be a real thing here in the city!)

7) For those of you as bookish as I am, if you haven’t read Dr John Sarno’s books or The Body Keeps The Score. Pick them up!

8) Massage Therapy!

How Medical Massage in New York Can Make a Big Impact on Your Mental Health

Are you trying to maintain healthy mental wellbeing and/or in a lonely season of your life? I encourage you to make massage a dependable part of your life. It is more versatile medicine than you might have ever known. I have seen truly empowering results with our clients when we acknowledge the other parts of their life that impact their physical wellbeing.

The emotional support and understanding of having a medical massage session dedicated entirely to your wellbeing can have a huge impact. And it is often enough to get our systems to chill out and relearn how to relax. Having time to be present with your body instead of dissociating is a powerful thing, my friend 🙂

I’m human too. Even though I live and breathe massage and self care, life has a way of shaking us up every so often to see where our values lie. I have to keep committing to my own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, right alongside you.

And I can say without a doubt that we at Bodyworks DW are all here to support you to set and meet your physical and mental health goals. And to take glorious steps to living the life you choose. Our team’s therapeutic focus means we treat the whole person not just a torn shoulder and or an aching back (though we excel at treating those!).

We offer medical massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City.

If you are are working on your mental health, medical massage can help you experience what your body could feel like to truly rest.

If you would like to schedule a fantastic medical massage and experience the benefits above, please contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our medical massage midtown or massage therapy fidi studios!

Book an Appointment

See you on the table, Jess