Hunching over a screen in your cubicle all day can give you serious neck and wrist aches, but using massage as a preventative measure can help you avoid it spiraling into chronic issues like “tech neck” or carpal tunnel syndrome.
These modern-day injuries are relatively new and can be credited to overuse of digital devices.
Human beings evolved to move, squat, jump, and run, not to sit with our necks arched toward a computer all day. Within the short span of the past 50 years — and much less than that for smartphones! — the human race has become digitally dependent on devices to get much of our daily work accomplished.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s see – did you wake up to an alarm clock on your phone today? Perhaps you checked your email on that same phone before you got out of bed, or as you were having your morning coffee? Maybe you even read the news or listened to a podcast on it while you rode into work.
Now look, I’m not one to point fingers. I mean, how do you think this article is getting written right now? On a computer, of course.
So what’s a body to do in order to avoid the repetitive strain injuries associated with modern life? They say that the problem is also the solution, so first let’s get a better understanding of digital injuries and then discuss some natural treatments.
What Causes Office Ailments Like Tech Neck & Carpal Tunnel?
Tech neck syndrome is a newer diagnosis. The painful neck condition is caused by repeatedly looking down — for example at a smartphone or computer screen — leading to repetitive strain in the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Also occasionally referred to as “text neck,” you might feel this as a chronic headache or pain in your shoulders.
Your head weighs about 12 pounds when it’s stacked neatly on top of your neck, but when you’re leaning forward for long periods, that increases the amount of force that’s applied to your neck and upper back. So when you’re bent over that cat video on your phone you could be increasing the weight of your head from 12 pounds to up to 30 pounds, putting a huge strain on your upper back and neck. This “injury of the digital age” could lead to early degeneration and possibly even surgeries, research shows.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a ligament inflammation that causes numbness in your wrists, hand, or fingers. Like tech neck, carpal tunnel is an injury caused by poor posture and overuse. Activities like typing at a keyboard for long periods of time are often the root of the problem.
If you see a doctor for your carpal tunnel symptoms, they may eventually refer you to a surgeon to discuss surgical options for opening up the tendon sheath to ease the inflammation. Before undergoing a major procedure, there are some great natural methods you can use to treat your carpal tunnel yourself.
Massage For Carpal Tunnel And Tech Neck
A trained massage therapist is the perfect solution for your office ailments. In addition to the stress relief benefits of massage, it can also relieve neck pain and help ease the inflammation of carpal tunnel syndrome.
One six week study noted that combining traditional (Swedish) massage therapy with trigger point massage significantly reduced symptoms and improved wrist function in participants. Since tech neck is a newer condition there aren’t yet studies on massage as a treatment approach. However, massage is widely known as a top treatment option for chronic headaches and nearly all conditions affecting the neck.
You can ask your massage therapist to show you some exercises to strengthen your upper neck, shoulders, and wrists during or after your session. They’ll be happy to walk you through ways to improve your posture and strengthen your muscles and tendons at home to avoid future problems.
Be Proactive To Prevent Carpal Tunnel & Tech Neck
Just as overusing the same posture can lead to these injuries, varying your posture with movement can help you prevent them. It’s important to schedule in your movement breaks to avoid injury from repetitive positioning. Setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move every 20-30 minutes is a surprisingly effective way to avoid tech neck when you’re working long hours at a computer.
Be sure to vary your position as much as possible. Using a standing desk such as a Varidesk, sitting on a stability ball while typing, or taking that next conference call with earbuds while you’re on a walk are great ways to concentrate on your work while creating more movement variations and preventing repetitive use injury. To avoid carpal tunnel, it’s also helpful to adjust the height of your chair and desk so that your forearms stay level with your keyboard, providing a neutral wrist position.
When you’re typing or doing other work with your hands, you should stretch your hands, wrists, and neck every 20 to 60 minutes. Extend and stretch out both hands as if you were holding up a wall and hold the position for five seconds. Then make fists and bend your hands downward for five seconds.
You can schedule a massage in your own home or book a chair massage for your office staff using Zeel’s on-demand massage app. A professional massage can reduce the inflammation caused by all that repetitive positioning in the office.
Use all of these tricks to improve your posture and proactively prevent office injuries. Being proactive now can help you avoid a long-term pain in the neck.
Margo Carroll is a marketing strategist and email funnel copywriter for online business owners. She has worked with many massage therapists and has been featured in Massage magazine, the Massage Business Blueprint and MindBodyGreen. Learn more about Margo at margocaroll.com and on LinkedIn.