It is not news that we are a very work-focused society, where increasingly many of us hold desk jobs. The habits built at our desk, especially while sitting, comes from repetitive motion, poor posture and staying in the same position for extended periods of time. These could cause or worsen musculoskeletal disorders or discomfort, such as neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel and more. To take it even further, it is easier to develop health issues like obesity and stress. In the poor sitting posture most of us are guilty of for long periods, we are altering the natural lengths of our muscles, thus affecting our posture, strength and can also decrease circulation to certain muscle groups and areas of the body.
Since I, and the people around me are all guilty of being desk warriors, this two-part article will hopefully help us alleviate or prevent the aches and discomforts. The first step, just like any workout, we encourage self-myofascial release.
Myofascial release, for example foam rolling, are excellent ways to alleviate pain, help muscles return to their normal lengths, increase circulation, and decrease the chances of injury in both work and activity. This is a hugely important step that is commonly neglected and skipped, as people tend to jump straight into stretching. Imagine a knotted rubber band and a normal one, which could you pull further? Myofascial release is hence intended to massage out the adhesions (or knots) in our muscles, returning it to its intended length before we proceed to do anything else with it. To find out more about myofascial release, we’ve previously written an article on the importance of it – https://bodytreegroup.com/the-power-behind-myofascial-release/
It is probably the most common to have tight shoulders, tight hips and perhaps a strained back. Nonetheless, no matter which body part is aching or sore, there are a few rules of thumb when performing myofascial release:
- With any tool that you are using, roll over the belly of the muscle group until you feel a trigger point, or point with most discomfort/pain.
- Avoid rolling on or close to your joints.
- Apply pressure to that trigger point for at least 15-30 seconds, but no more than 45 seconds if you are just starting out.
- Rest as needed and repeat this process for the rest of the muscle group.
Commonly, people roll around the entire area of the muscle group but all that does is just identifying the knots in your muscles. Holding and applying pressure onto the trigger points is what actually flatten the knots out. I’d also like to highlight the second point, as I very often see people massaging for example, the back of their knees when they feel a strain, or soreness in that area. If it’s not a sharp pain caused by a ligament tear for example, the source of the pain in this example could be tight hamstrings. When our muscles are so knotted up and tight, it pulls onto neighboring structures as our bodies are all connected from one structure to another. In this case, the tight hamstrings would be pulling and tugging on the tendons at the back of our knees, causing the pain. I hence urge everyone to remember that myofascial release is targeted for muscles or fascia only and won’t do anything to other areas like our tendons and ligaments, so trace the source of your pain!
I have never actually met anyone that works a desk job without tight shoulders. This is not surprising as in our sitting posture with our arms on the table be it typing or writing, we probably unknowingly have our shoulders elevated and they are working all throughout the hours we are at our desks. My favourite tool to release shoulders, and I’m not being biased, is the PowerPlate Pulse. This massage gun doesn’t require any lying down, leaning against the wall etc. which might be awkward if you are not working from home. All I need to do is place it on my opposite shoulder, and let the vibrations do its work. To make things even better, there is now a mini version of this, and it’s perfect for taking it with me to the office or wherever.
As it comes with 6 attachments for the regular Pulse and 2 attachments for the mini, I could switch it up from one attachment to the other to massage other body parts like my forearm, which always gets sore after long periods of writing. Otherwise, I could also change it to the large ball to massage my hips or thighs. The fact that it comes with multiple attachments makes it feel like it’s got me all covered in my myofascial release journey. Another plus side is that it is so quiet your colleagues or bosses wouldn’t know you are having a massage in the office!
The only downside to the Pulse, is that I need someone else to help with my back. If back aches are something you experience, my favourite product is the DualSphere. Before this, I used to put two tennis balls in a sock and lie on it, so there is no pressure on the spine as it goes in the space between the two balls. The DualSphere, handily, is made with the same depression in the center, allowing space for the spine to rest without any pressure while you massage the back muscles, except it is superior to my tennis ball/sock method because of its vibrational function. As we are targeting shortened muscles resulted from postural biases, the vibrational function is for lack of a better word, elite. As mentioned in our previous blog post, massage combined with vibration can induce ‘tissue creep’, which is a change in length of the tissues that were previously shortened. The effects of vibrational massage tools, such as our PowerPlate targeted vibration products, can hence provide even faster and better results.
Head on over to our online shop (https://bodytreegroup.com/shop) to find out more about the products we offer and say goodbye to your aches and pains! Stay tuned to our second part of this article, where we will recommend mobility exercises for all you lovely desk warriors out there.