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Massage: System reboot for optimal performance

It’s another late night, energy drinks at the ready – you thrive in the challenge of the job, hunched over the keyboard with fingers flying, long hours at the desk and impossibly short deadlines.  And sleep?  What’s that!

This is a story about “Sam” … his name has been changed to protect his identity … he’s working on a top secret project.  Sam thrives on the stress and challenge of his job.  He’s pushing the boundaries.  Why look for a best of breed solution when he can custom code specific for the job.  Instead of leaving the office he’s on a “GoTo meeting” and he’s finishing his tips for his fantasy team.

His head leans toward his monitor, his shoulders round forward over the keyboard.  His back is curved like a “C” – he’s never been able to touch his toes.  His neck aches, his legs are tight and there’s a persistent pain in his lower back.  The ache across his shoulders is fairly constant and he feels pain in his neck and arms.

Sam has computer related back pain brought on by poor posture, high stress, stationary work habits and little or no work breaks.

Let’s face it – you earn your money behind a keyboard, you’re not going to give it up.  Here’s some factoids to help you towards a more comfortable


Slouched at the desk all day, cramped up in a chair while fingers fly on the keyboard.  It doesn’t exactly lend itself to a straight spine, does it?

Bad ergonomics practiced for long periods of time leads to pain.  This is because to relieve fatigue or create stability, your body is activating small muscles that would normally be at rest – they become tired and cranky and you feel pain.

Stretching is recommended, but sometimes the only way to breathe new life into those sore muscles is massage.


Some workplaces just seem to thrive on or manifest stress.  Programming, servicing under stress, design, event management – just a few pressure cooker work environments.

Did you know that being emotionally stressed takes a physical toll your body? Without delving into the human psyche – we carry stress demonstrated by tense shoulders, tight back, clenched hands and jaw.  For you this might mean back pain, fatigue and headaches.


Sitting in any position for more than 20 minutes can lead to back pain.  That’s right, it only takes 20 minutes for your tissues to harden from sitting at your desk or in a meeting — that’s why you feel the need to get up to stretch and move around.

You don’t have to do office yoga to help prevent back pain.  All you needs is to take short regular breaks.  Get up and have a glass of water, stand when on the phone, walk to the toilet and walk to your colleague instead of phoning.


It’s a matter of simple mechanics – your body is a series of levers, fulcrums, ropes and pullies and the head balances nicely on its axis.  The further forward your head from its natural point of balance the heavier it becomes.  For every 5 cm of forward head posture – you triple the load your neck has to support.


The most common type of headache is the tension type headache brought on by the muscles in the back of the neck. You may have reached back there yourself to feel those tender spots. Those are overworked, fatigued muscles telling you to get up and move around.


An ache in the lower back, pain when bending over, fire in the back of the leg, pins and needles in the feet.  Uh oh!  The muscles of our back, legs and core love being at length, but sitting all day makes them short.  You don’t have to do yoga or sit on an inflatable ball to have a healthy pain free back.  Movement is king here – keep moving and your back will reward you with a long life.


Think of massage like a reset. That doesn’t mean you need to wait for your pain threshold to fill up again before another trip to the massage therapist, but problems with pain tend to beget more problems.

Like any hardware, occasionally your brain and muscles also need to be powered down so that they can reset and function optimally.

However passionate you are about staying connected with multiple devices, try giving it a rest, just for an hour. Every system needs to be restarted now and then. Try massage, you’ll be glad you did.

David Clayton is the Principal Remedial Therapist at Myomasters Massage located in Hope Valley in the north east of Adelaide.  He has a passion for supporting humans to live the lives they were to born to live using massage and soft tissue therapies.  He has a particular interest in assisting people to recover from stress, anxiety and trauma using compassionate and nurturing touch.

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