Welcome to “Tips and Tricks”! This page is designated for stretches, strengthening exercises, and suggestions for proper body mechanics and maintenance to keep you functioning at your best between massage visits!
This one is for those of us who spend a lot of time on our computers (and let’s be honest, that’s most of us!)
As is true for most body mechanics issues, a repetitive stress injury often develops from excessive overuse of a particular muscle without equally activating the antagonist or oppositional muscles. For example, fingers cramp up when you consistently flex them without also fully extending them. For shoulders, make sure to spend as much time engaging the backward range of motion as the forward.
Here are 10 tricks I tell my clients when they ask how to combat “T-Rex Syndrome”, also known as “forward head”, caused by long hours of extending arms in front of you while jutting your chin and head forward towards the computer.
1. Put a mirror at your desk and check your posture periodically. Make sure your ears are directly above your shoulders, as each additional inch forward adds 10 lbs of pressure onto your teeny tiny neck support muscles.
2. Place a small pillow between the middle of your back and your office chair. Holding it in place will activate your core muscles and stack your spinal vertebrae directly on top of each other to help prevent slouching.
3. Standing up, make large circles with your arms straight and fully outstretched, 10 times forward, 10 times backward, to reintroduce your full range of motion into your rotator cuff muscles. You can also do this with door frame stretches, both with arms straight overhead (if you can reach!) or at a 90° angle to the side. You should feel the stretch in the front of your shoulder and arm.
4. Set an alarm on your phone for the same time every hour to remind you to get up and walk around, and refill your water bottle (the recommended amount of water is eight 8 oz glasses per day!) Ideally you should move once every 30-60 minutes. Prolonged sitting increases risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, regardless of the level of exercise you achieve outside of sitting. Your blood sugar is at a better level after ten 1 minute movement breaks versus one 10 minute break.
5. Get yourself a foam roller and lay on top of it long-wise, face up, for 10 or so minutes each day. Allow gravity and the weight of your body and arms to lengthen and stretch your chest muscles open.
6. Keep your computer screens at eye level. If you have multiple monitors, turn with your whole body when switching screens, not just your neck or torso.
7. Make sure your mouse is directly in front of you instead off to the side to prevent repetitive stress injuries in wrist, elbow, and arm joints. For consistent wrist issues, you may want to consider trying a vertical mouse.
8. You can strengthen your fingers by wrapping a rubber band around the middle knuckles of your fingers and slowly opening and closing them. Stress balls are also great for this purpose!
9. Find ways to encourage movement in your environment – If you can, take your lunch break outside! Or bring your yoga mat and find a quiet corner to follow a quick 20 minute yoga flow on youtube! Wanna get wild? Build a laser obstacle course in your office using yarn! You could even tape a hop scotch court to the floor! Check this out!
10. Spend time with each area of your body every day. Start from the top and work your way down each muscle and joint. Check in. Stretch it out. Stiff body = stiff arteries. Mobility = flexibility. The parts of the brain associated with the parts of your body you don’t activate will start to atrophy over time. Regardless of your body type, fitness level, age, or injury, one rule remains true:
MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!
Give this video a quick watch to make sure you’re properly supporting your spine and joints while at work! Many thanks to Stephen Watkins for creating this fantastic tutorial!