Back & Hip Pain: According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic low back pain (lasting longer than 12 weeks) is a very common disorder--affecting over three million Americans each year. Sitting for long periods of time causes the hip flexors to shorten and the normal position of the pelvis to shift. This can lead to increasing pressure on the facet joints and facet joint syndrome. Chronic imbalances can also lead to problems with the discs of the spine. Other consequences could include hip pain, sciatica and leg pain.
Neck and Shoulder Pain: Normally the head should be stacked in a neutral position over the neck and shoulders. Desk workers commonly have a forward head posture due to slouching, a clenched jaw, and trying get closer to their monitor. The spinal facet joints of the neck have a lot of pain receptors and the abnormal position of the head for long periods of time can cause cervical facet syndrome. Cervical facet joint problems are commonly characterized by pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. In many cases, people don't recognize that the pain they're experiencing is coming from their neck (cervical facet syndrome) because the pain is localized around the shoulder blades, upper back or in other areas.
Headaches and Migraines: The unnatural position of the head and neck can lead to tension headaches or a cluster migraine. Forward head posture can also result in damage in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which eventually results in temporomandibular disorder (TMD or TMJD) The jaw muscles can become chronically activated. This causes a chain reaction of tension in the 146 muscles in the head, neck and shoulders that compensate for the jaw joint. In this way, jaw tension can be the root cause of many common issues like neck and shoulder pain or headaches.
Loss of flexibility: Sitting for long periods of time can cause some muscles to shorten, and others to be overstretched. A shortened muscle has fibrotic tissue that is stuck in a flexed position. This leaves less healthy muscle fiber available when the muscle is asked to perform a difficult task. An overstretched muscle is weakened in this imbalanced state and also more vulnerable to injury. Decreased flexibility can increase the rate of injury to imbalanced muscles, as well.
Psychological effects: The chronic pain associated with poor posture can cause a lack of self confidence. It can lead to feeling chronically tired or fatigued, reduced workplace effectiveness, and general malaise.
Along with the above problems, you might experience burning sensations, tingling, or numbness. Nerves can become compressed leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome, or cervical radiculopathy (a pinched nerve).
Traditional doctors seek to treat these symptoms with pain, medication, or surgery. This route may be necessary in some cases but should be considered a last resort. That is because they have the potential to create their own problems and can even WORSEN the symptoms over time. In many cases, the solution is simple but requires dedication, discipline, and patience. There is no simple, quick fix for chronic pain because in most cases it is a result of many years of poor posture, habits, and workplace ergonomics.
Over time you can cure your pain by learning how to work with better posture, sitting less, and arranging your workplace to be more ergonomic. Taking the time to care for yourself more often and integrating medical massage into your life will significantly help by making you more aware of the chronic holding patterns in your muscles. It can also help you by helping you tune in to where muscle adhesions and tightness are focused in your own body.
I offer postural therapy and education to all of my massage patients to help address the individual root causes of of their pain. I also offer a free “lunch and learn” presentation to companies in Fort Collins where I can teach your employees how to work with better posture to improve their productivity.
Text me at 970-222-2864 or book online to start taking an active role in managing your pain.