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How to avoid a stiff neck and back pain during your flight by Brent Wells DC - Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

How to Avoid a Stiff Neck and Back Pain During Your Flight: A Guest Post by Chiropractor Brent Wells

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractor Anchorage AK in 1998. He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment. Enjoy his guest post on how to avoid pain during a flight!

We all know that feeling after a long flight when you’ve got the worst crick in your neck. No matter how much you stretch and rub it, you just can’t seem to get rid of the pain. Or worse, you have a sharp pain in your lower back and feel stiff as you get off the plane. This kind of pain can really make your travels difficult and put a damper on your holiday.

Before you even take a flight, be sure you’re prepared with these pain-friendly strategies. We’ve put together nine tips to help you stay comfy. 

  1. Stretch before, during and after your flight

    Try and keep your muscles as loose and relaxed as possible. You can do some light stretching as you wait before boarding, on the plane itself and afterwards when you get off. There are plenty of “chair exercises” that can help you keep your neck and back muscles less stiff.

  2. Purchase a neck pillow

    Neck pillows are a great accessory to bring as a carry-on. Neck pillows can support your neck as you rest or sleep during your flight. They are comfortable and can prevent you from twisting your neck or back in an unnatural position. This kind of neck support is critical if you suffer from neck pain.

  3. Pack light and don’t lift heavy bags

    Nowadays, everybody is getting on flights with more and bigger carry-ons. Try to keep it light, so you aren’t overloaded with bags as you get on and off your flight. You can even check heavier bags to avoid putting extra pressure on your lower back. If you find you need help, be sure to ask the airline for assistance, too.

  4. Take breaks from sitting

    Especially if you have a long flight, it’s a good idea to get up every hour or so to walk around the cabin. This will help get your blood circulation moving so that your muscles don’t tense up as much. If you suffer from back pain, try to arrange for an aisle seat so you can easily get up and down during your flight to take a little walk.Try taking breaks from sitting to reduce pain during your flight - Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

  5. Use self-massage

    If you’re experiencing neck or back pain during your flight, you can also try giving yourself a massage. An easy way to do this is to pack a tennis ball in your carry-on and use it to massage your shoulders and between your lower back and the seat. A tennis ball is all you need to really loosen up your muscles. Many airports offer massages, and it can be tempting to get one before a flight. However, this will only help a bit at the beginning of the flight and disappear by the end of it. Instead, try getting a professional massage the evening that you land. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready!

  6. Try to sleep in a natural position

    It can be difficult to stay comfortable during your flight. Try not to twist or contort your body as you’re looking for a good position to rest. As much as you can, sit with your seat reclined and your body aligned. Here’s where a neck pillow can really help to keep your spine straight and forward as much as possible.

  7. Order your favorite beverage and snack

    Stay relaxed by ordering your favorite beverage and snack, so that you can enjoy the flight. Stress can be a major factor when it comes to back pain, so do whatever stress-free activities you like. Stay relaxed, watched a movie, enjoy a snack – whatever makes you feel comfortable.

  8. Upgrade to first class

    If you’re really struggling with pain on a flight, you can also try to get upgraded to first class, where the seats are wider and more comfortable. You can do this by using your airline points, paying more or bringing a doctor’s note that explains your back condition. Find a way to get a more comfortable seat. Sometimes the investment of first class can make a huge difference to your pain.

  9. Stay hydrated throughout your flight

    It’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight. Be sure to ask for water, or bring an empty water bottle through security to later fill with water. For a long flight, it’s important to continue to drink fluids. This will prevent your muscles from getting stiff or tense during those long hours.

For your next flight, follow these nine tips to keep your neck and back pain away. If you struggle with neck and back pain on a regular basis, you should also consider seeing a chiropractor. A chiropractic clinic can give you professional medical advice about whether you need an adjustment, as well as creating a care plan that involves massage, diet, exercise, and supplements. Don’t just cross your fingers that your pain will go away, make an appointment before your upcoming trip

If your trip takes you to New York City, book a professional deep tissue massage in Midtown or the Financial District with a highly trained massage therapist at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy.

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!

Neck Pain Massage Therapy_ Designing Effective Lasting Treatments @ Bodyworks DW with David Weintraub LMT

Neck Pain Massage Therapy: Designing Effective Lasting Treatments

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about neck pain and the positive effects of massage therapy to overcome it.

David Weintraub Licensed Massage Therapist and Owner at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

Why effective neck pain massage therapy shouldn't focus exclusively on your neck

Neck pain is a very common issue. Our phones and devices are constantly pulling our attention. Our head follows our eyes putting us in a "head forward" position. This pulls the muscles in the back of your neck into a constant stretch. And makes them work extra hard to fight the weight of your head. Muscles hate being stretched and working hard. So they yell at you with achy pain. Thankfully, neck pain massage in New York and can be an effective and lasting treatment...when done properly.

Does this sound like you?

a) Sitting at a desk staring at your screen for 40+ hours a week
b) Looking down at your phone multiple times a day
c) Reading your tablet in bed while propping your head up on a pillow

All of these habits tighten your anterior neck muscles (the ones in front). While simultaneously pulling on the posterior neck muscles (the ones in back).

My massage therapist should work mostly where the pain is, right?

Actually, no. That might feel good at the time. But it won't last more that a few hours to a few days if you are lucky.

The next day you may even feel worse. Like you were hit with a bag of hammers. Working only on what hurts won't do anything to relieve pain for the long term. Truly effective neck pain massage has to address what's causing your head to move forward in the first place. And the cause is usually not your neck!

For most common neck pain, the following three areas need to be released together at the same time. This will move your head into a more balanced position on top of the ribcage. When the head is balanced in gravity the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back get to relax. And stop yelling at you with achy pain.

The Three Main Areas to work on in a first session

1) Hip Flexor Muscles (any muscle that helps bring your knee towards your chest...there are more than 12!)

Your hip flexor muscles are tight from sitting all day. This pulls the top of your pelvis forward into an anterior tilt (forward tilt). Basically you can think of it as a small but significant fold forward in your hips. This forward fold pulls you entire upper body forward. If nothing else changed, you would feel stooped over.

2) The Ribcage Position

The position of your ribcage in relation to your pelvis is vitally important to relieving both back and neck pain. With an anteriorly tilted pelvis, the ribcage tilts backwards to compensate. The muscles in the mid back will work extra hard. Basically you will be doing a backbend all day long. You'll have to in order to keep the ribs balanced on top of your forward tilted pelvis. In addition to putting your head and neck in a poor position, this also puts a lot of strain on the low back.

3) The Pectoral & Anterior Neck Muscles

With the ribcage doing a backbend to balance the pelvis, your head needs to move forward to compensate. If it didn't, you'd be looking at the ceiling. As you head pulls forward it overstretches your posterior neck and upper shoulder muscles. Yes, we know that's where it hurts 🙂 However, working back there is not going to make a long term impact. The back of your neck is already over stretched. Releasing it into length even more (which is what massage does to muscles) is not going to help any. To really provide relief, the front side anterior neck muscles need to be released in order to give the back ones some slack.

If your massage therapist only releases the front neck muscles and not the mid back muscles, your neck will feel a lot better. But you'll be stuck looking up at the ceiling. And if they open up the angle of your neck and your ribcage, but not the hip angle, you'll be left stooping over! So, to really release your neck muscles in a way that sticks, we need to make sure all three areas are in better balance. This will allow your head position to float back on top of your pelvis and ribs naturally, without effort. Finally your neck muscles get to rest!

For most neck pain and upper back pain clients, we sequence all three areas in a neck pain massage session. We work on releasing hip flexor muscles, then mid back muscles, then front of neck muscles. By the time we work on those back of the neck muscles, they are already super relaxed and ready for deeper work. You'll leave feeling your neck light and moveable in ways that you had forgotten exist 🙂

What Next? That felt great and lasted weeks! But now that familiar ache is starting to come back...

The above 3 step session is a basic outline of what would happen in a first session. It's going to provide a lot more relief than a standard massage session and it's going to last a lot longer than you are used to. In order to get that relief to last long term we recommend a series of sessions to address some or all of the following (depending on the client):

  • Any old ankle injuries your have that change the angle and shape of the foot: these usually cause hip flexor tightness
  • Your adductor muscles on the inner thigh that may be stuck together due to sports injuries: these also cause hip flexor tightness
  • The position of your shoulder blades on your ribcage: these are often "rolled forward" pulling on the muscles in the back of your neck in a similar way to the front neck muscles
  • Your side body fascia: if the ribcage isn't inflating and deflating while breathing, both the shoulder and neck muscles get "stuck"
  • Your jaw muscles - tension from trips to the dentist or daily unrelieved stress tightens these causing headaches and also neck and shoulder pain

As each of these related causes for neck pain is worked on, it will become easier and easier to balance your head on top of your ribcage. Eventually, usually after 4-7 sessions of neck pain massage, pain becomes a thing of the past.

Effective neck pain massage therapy addresses all of the forces pulling on your head

We've developed truly effective neck pain massage therapy that provides long term relief at Bodyworks DW.

First, we'll address your neck pain effectively by releasing each of the three main contributing factors in the same session. You will feel immediate relief at the end of the first session. And you won't feel sore or beat up the next day.

Next, to have a long term impact, we will follow up the first session with 3-6 custom designed sessions. These sessions will work on more detailed areas in cumulative layers. Each massage allows us to go deeper into the stuck front neck muscles and bring your head into better balance. With your head balanced on top of your spine all of the muscles work less. Less work = less pain!

We offer neck pain massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a fantastic neck pain massage with one of the best massage therapists this city has to offer? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our neck pain massage midtown or neck pain massage fidi studios!

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text neck massage therapy neck pain shoulder pain

Save your text neck

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about "text neck," what it is and ways to prevent it.

David Weintraub

The perils of “always on” technology:

Okay, so your "text neck" probably won’t actually kill you (unless you are texting and driving). However, it’s becoming increasingly likely that at some point in the next 5-10 years of tech use, you’ll develop a repetitive stress disorder.

The phrase carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist pain) has been part of the collective conscious for several decades. It's so common as a disrupter of productivity that it has spawned an entire industry of ergonomics solutions. These range from special keyboards to Star Trek styled full desk/monitor set ups. All keep you at your desk longer making trades, typing contracts, writing legal memos.

And then the 2000’s came along. Most of us jumped all in with smartphones and laptops and tablets.

Suddenly we could be productive all the time.

Standing on the subway platform?

Let me check my email.

Taking the train in from CT?

Let me just go over those sales reports.

Date just went to the bathroom?

Let me text my assistant to make sure I’m set up for tomorrow’s board meeting.

Unfortunately, there are costs to constant device use that might change your mind about your phone and tablet.

Looking down at our phone, tablet, or laptop, pulls our head forward and down. This imbalances all the muscles holding up your head (ahem... text neck). These imbalances can cause any and all of the following:

  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • TMJ
  • headaches
  • low back pain
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • anxiety
  • low energy
  • bone loss
  • depression
  • memory loss

Sound scary? Don’t believe it?

Check out this New York Times article: Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods

Like many things that aren’t healthy for us, these costs are not going to suddenly show up tomorrow. They build up over time. In ways that make it hard to track what the changes are doing to your body. However, there is hope for us all!

What can I do about this?

I’m not some Luddite preaching that we should all return to farming. I happen to be a business owner with 20+ employees and have tech in so many screen sizes it’s getting ridiculous. I deal with text neck too. 

I’ve got a smartwatch, smartphone, an iPad for home and one for work, an airbook laptop, an iMac at my desk. Not to mention the 15 other devices I have at the office for the staff to be "productive" on. I’m just as tempted as you to go on my phone on the subway and read articles on Facebook or Twitter to pass the time. So I decided to try something out...

Experiments DW

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been running an experiment to see just how much I can lighten up my daily commute (see the last blog post on how much we carry around with us and tips to help with that).

I’ve gotten down to just leaving home with the following:

That’s right….NO BAG.

I had to get really clear on what my time is worth to me and what my long term health is worth to me. And I had to spend some extra cash to duplicate certain items at work and at home so that I wouldn’t have to cart them back and forth.

Is it worth it? For me this experiment has been a fascinating eye opener. It’s also reduced my daily stress levels by about 20-30%.

I have less issues with headaches at day end, my back feels better, and my overall mood has noticeably improved.

I’ve got new rules for my text neck, I count em:

#1: I am not allowed to look at my phone during my commute except to choose music.

#2: I am only allowed to work while at the office, or while at my desk at my home office. The couch is only for relaxing and the bed is only for sleeping (and well, you know…).

#3: If I need something both at work and at home, I duplicate that item rather than carry it back and forth. The value in stress reduction and ease of movement on my body is a long-term savings in health and self-care costs down the road.

#4: If I do have to look at a device, I hold it up to horizon level and keep my head up.

#5: When my arm gets tired of holding up the device to eye level rather than looking down, it’s time to take a break and put it away.

You may think I’m crazy for buying a second iPad to keep one at work and one at the office. Really the only reason for me to do that is that it has become my primary note taking device for my life coaching sessions. Sure, I could take notes on paper, but then I’d have to create a filing system for them. The iPad keeps all my notes for each client on the cloud.

Of course, you’ll have to do your own analysis of the following:

- what you can and can’t do without

- how much is your time is worth

- which work can be left until tomorrow or

- what work can be put on hold for the 45 minutes to 2 hours you spend on your commute

You’ll probably come up with different ways to reduce your load and stress than I have. (For instance, maybe it’s spending the extra cash on a monthly gym locker. You can leave your workout gear there most of the time.) Prioritize those ideas and see for yourself how helpful it can be. 

Are you willing to give lightening your load and keeping your head up a try? Yes? Your text neck will thank you.