Your desk job and poor posture may be causing your headaches and/or your shoulder pain. Sitting for long hours at your desk often focusing more on your work than your posture may cause you to slouch and tense. Tightness in your neck and shoulders may cause shoulder pain and/or a headache.

In Registered Massage Therapy terms, we call it “Head Forward Posture”. Do you get a head ache at the base of your skull? Maybe it refers around and above your ears, or if its really bad perhaps it goes all the way to above your eyes? This is called a Tension Headache and it is caused by the shortening of the muscles at the base of your skull and front of your neck. These muscles (suboccipitals) become a mining field full of trigger points (knots) which refer as that dull, uncomfortable, painful headache. Check out our video on how to correct this imbalance and negate the negative effects your head forward posture has on your posture. 

Ease Your Headache With Better Posture

Muscles around your shoulders and spine often become tense when sitting in the same position and dealing with pressures at work.

  • When working at your desk try to stretch and take a short stroll outside or around your office every hour.
  • Ensure your chair is adjusted to the right height and has a good support for your lower back.
  • Sitting on a Swiss ball is an attractive alternative for some.
  • Adjust the chair height so your elbows are in a natural position to prevent straining your neck and upper back muscles.
  • Correctly adjust your posture (emphasis on correctly because this is so often done wrong).  Try it with me right now as I explain…
    • exactly as you’re sitting right now lift your shoulders straight up towards your ears
    • now push them straight back until you feel the tightening inbetween your shoulder blades
    • Straighten the back of your neck
    • now slide your shoulders down your back
    • VIOLA! You have correctly repositioned your shoulders and neck with out creating any unnecessary extension of your mid or lower back.
    • **think, “up, back, down” with the movement of your shoulders and maintain a lengthening of the back of the neck**

Set Your Desk Up

To avoid slouching and chair issues try working at a stand-up desk. Adjust your desk so it is a comfortable level for your arms to avoid slouching over your desk. Set your computer up so you don’t have to lean forward. Shoulder pain may also be caused by your mouse, known as ‘mouse shoulder’. As mentioned before, take regular breaks from your desk to avoid repetitive strain injury in your shoulder.

Handle Stress To Ease Shoulder Pain

Stress may be the source of neck and shoulder pain. Often when stressed some of us tend to tighten our shoulder muscles and hunch over. Tight neck and shoulder muscles often lead to headaches. Many find yoga and/or going for massage therapy treatments effective for managing stress, strengthening neck, shoulder and back muscles and for correcting any postural issues. Check out our article on diaphragmatic breathing to manage stressful situations.

Massage Therapy

This is no joke helpful! We arent just tooting our own horn here, either. This is straight forward, honest and proven to help with neck and shoulder pain from sitting at a desk all day.  In school we learn dozens of techniques on how to release suboccipital muscles. We learn how to know what muscles to work on specifically based off of where you are feeling your headache. It may seem like your massage therapist has ‘magic hands’ but its simply incredible intuition and a good memory from the lessons in class.

Often enough, the neck will cause jaw imbalances which will can also cause discomfort and imbalances. Our massage therapy team knows of this pain tension pattern well and are intuitively skilled at working on this. Have you seen our article on TMJD (temporal mandibular joint dysfunction) and how we can help?

Simultaneously, massage therapy can also work on the negative positional imbalance in your shoulders when sitting at a desk all day.  Anteriorly rolled shoulders can cause hypertonic anterior rotator cuff muscles (super tight front of the shoulder muscles), and hypotonic posterior cuff and back muscles (weak shoulder and upper back muscles). Your RMT will work with your body to release the necessary knots and hypertonic muscles, as well as providing you with the necessary strengthening techniques to correct the weakness.

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