You know that feeling when you have been hunched over the computer keyboard for hours at a time, or after a long drive; your shoulders just ache?
Or when you feel like you need to stretch your neck and arch your back when you stand up? Or the horrible feeling of the onset of a tension headache that start to creep in as the day concludes.
Those painful shoulders, that aching neck is often all to do with your POSTURE.
It's not a regular occurance during your working day, that you roll your shoulders back and down or have a really good stretch.... but maybe you should.
All the rounding of the shoulders, all the hunching of the back, all the neck muscles being strained as you scroll through the daily feed on your phone - all these forward facing actions need an equal and opposite reaction.
So, let's talk MUSCLES.
One of the largest muscles in your back is your trapezius. It is like a broad, diamond shaped blanket that lies along the upper back and neck and attaches to your spine. This is one of the muscles that allows you to extend and rotate the neck; to hold a phone between your ear and your shoulder, and is also one of the muscles that helps you to shrug your shoulders.
You may feel lots of tension and 'knots' in this muscle. These can be caused by carrying bags across the shoulder, or by generally feeling like your shoulders are scrunched up near your ears when you feel busy or stressed.
It's your trapezius that you get your partner to rub when you are watching the TV; this is the muscle that feels achy and over- used. This is the muscle that you stretch out when you try to release the tension in your neck.
So what can YOU do about it?
The first thing you can do is to be aware. Consider and make mental notes as to WHEN you feel the pain or ache. Address WHAT it is that you are doing that is causing the discomfort.
* Make a conscious effort to stand with good posture by dropping your shoulders back and down from your ears and squeezing in at your core.
* When you are sitting for prolonged periods, make an effort to get up and stretch regularly.
* Aim to elongate your neck and arms when you are working at your laptop, and
* keep any bags/ rucksacks weighted evenly across your back rather than just flung over one shoulder.
When you wind down in the evenings, grab a heat pack and place it over your shoulders or take a warm bath. The heat helps to relax the muscle fibres and allows for more mobility. Make sure that your head is supported at night with a pillow that is right for you and use your relaxation time to include a few gentle stretches to help ease away any stiffness.
Still no good?
Consider a massage where the therapist can help you to assess where the problem lies and can give you some further advice and guidance.
A deep tissue massage will use a variety of effleurage and petrissage techniques to ensure that the fibres are worked on to help ease the tension. Muscle Energy Techniques (MET's) can be used to help to stretch those adhesive fibres, and Neuro Muscular Techniques (NMT's) can be used to help to break down the knots.
You will be given after- care advice and shown what types of stretches you can do and you may be advised to make some lifestyle changes to help in the long- term.
A one- off treatment may not solve all your problems in one go. However, by attending regular appointments, massage can help to ease and soothe those painful aches.