Here at Psoas, we're equal opportunity massage therapists. We love working on all kinds of people, and all kinds of ailments. Over-trained athletes, the chronically ill, road-weary business travelers; you name them, we love them. But there is a special place in our hearts for the legions of desk workers that show up at our door. With their stiff necks, tingly fingers, rounded shoulders, achy low backs, and their weak forearms, they represent the working people in all their under-appreciated glory. Give us your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free, we say!
And huddled they are, as in the "drawn into oneself" meaning of the word. Desk workers are a tightly wound bunch and present a myriad of repetitive stress disorders. Perhaps you have struggled with carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, thoracic outlet syndrome, frozen shoulder, or any of the other painful injuries caused by simply doing small motions, over and over and over again. In which case, you have our sympathies and our attention.
The postural imbalances manifested as raised, forward, and internally rotated shoulders, forward neck, etc. are often referred to as upper crossed syndrome. We'd like to point the way towards freedom and introduce you new ways of working at your computer. Freedom of movement, freedom from office pains, and freedom to spend a little more time taking care of you. But for this to happen, it's got to be back to school time … for your body:
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) Scott Schwartz from Psoas Massage + Bodywork explains the basic tenets behind Active Isolated Stretching and how and when to use it.
The Posterior Kinetic Chain Exercise:
For Postural Distortions – Forward shoulders, Internally rotated shoulders, Raised shoulders, Forward neck, and Backwards Extended head. All day long you ask the muscles in your upper back and posterior neck to let go. After a while they just stop working properly and become overly stretched and lazy. This exercise wakes up those muscles and teaches them to start counteracting all the pull coming from your strong, constantly engaged front of neck and chest muscles.
AIS Pec Stretch:
For Postural Distortions – Forward shoulders and Internally rotated shoulders. Your strong pectoralis muscles get continually asked to contract during desk work. This stretch helps relax and lengthen them.
Neck Stretch (platysma): For Postural Distortions – Forward shoulders, Internally rotated shoulders, Raised shoulders and Forward neck. The superficial tissue of your neck and upper chest become tight and pull your neck forward, causing a potential myriad of problems. This stretch is very effective in reversing that trend.
AIS Sub-Occipital Stretch: For Postural Distortions – Backwards Extended head. Scott shows us a great stretch for the muscles at the base of the skull.
AIS Forearm Flexor Stretch (deep and superficial with bent and straight elbow): For pain in forearms and hands and fingers. Your forearms become tight and often pinch nerves traveling to your hands, causing numbness and tingling. These Wrist Flexor stretches will help. A lot.
AIS Forearm Extensor Stretch: For pain in forearms and hands and fingers. Your forearms become tight and often pinch nerves traveling to your hands, causing numbness and tingling. These Wrist Extensor stretches will help.
Artisan Stretch: For minor pain in forearms, hands and fingers. Great for tired, fatigued hands and forearms. Great active stretch. Perfect for desk workers. This is a great stretch for anyone suffering from repetitive arm stress because doing this entire exercise will strengthen and stretch both side of your forearms – the flexors and the extensors.
Opening Pecs: For Postural Distortions – Forward shoulders, Internally rotated shoulders, Raised shoulders and Forward neck. Jenny Lightstone from Psoas Massage + Bodywork demonstrates how to stretch our overworked pec muscles using a foam roller.
Bruegger's Stretch — Standing and Prone: For Postural Distortions – Forward shoulders, Internally rotated shoulders, Raised shoulders, Forward neck and Backwards Extended head. Scott talks you through the Bruegger’s Stretch to strengthen and activate the muscles of the back.
Bruegger's Stretch with Resistance
Scott offers up some variations on the Bruegger's stretch that you can practice with a resistance band.