WORK-RE­LATED NECK & SHOUL­DER PAIN

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Mar­garita Gure­vich De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

The Septem­ber ar­ti­cle of GHGTM, Work Re­lated In­juries, dis­cussed how cer­tain oc­cu­pa­tions cor­re­late with par­tic­u­lar types of in­juries. In this ar­ti­cle, we will specif­i­cally talk about how some jobs can con­trib­ute to neck and shoul­der pain.

If your work in­volves sit­ting in front of a com­puter for pro­longed pe­ri­ods of time the feel­ing of hav­ing sore neck and shoul­ders af­ter a long day’s work might be very real to you. That is not at all sur­pris­ing if we an­a­lyse the typ­i­cal pos­ture of a per­son who is sit­ting in front of a com­puter.

GEN­ER­ALLY, THIS IN­VOLVES THE FOL­LOW­ING:

• sit­ting with legs crossed

• lean­ing to­wards the desk with a hunched back

• for­ward head pos­ture

• fore­arms only partly rest­ing on the ta­ble

• tense shoul­ders

THE OUT­COME? NECK AND SHOUL­DER PAIN.

By the way, this does not mean that there is any­thing nec­es­sar­ily struc­turally wrong with your neck and/or shoul­ders. In our phys­io­ther­apy prac­tice we of­ten use the ‘bent fin­ger’ anal­ogy to ex­plain how pain can arise from poor pos­ture even when there is no struc­tural ab­nor­mal­ity. In a nut­shell if you take a healthy fin­ger, bend it back and hold it in that po­si­tion for a long pe­riod of time, it will start to feel sore even though there is noth­ing wrong with the fin­ger. Sim­i­larly, with our neck and shoul­ders, if we repet­i­tively hold them in a strained po­si­tion, they will start to get sore. If this oc­curs on a back­ground of a phys­i­cal prob­lem, such as a disc bulge for ex­am­ple, the pain will of course be even worse.

SO, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP THE SIT­U­A­TION?

Your phys­io­ther­a­pist can give you er­gonomic ad­vice and ar­range­ments can even be made for a phys­io­ther­a­pist to come to your work­place to as­sess your work sta­tion and make nec­es­sary ad­just­ments. There are also things which you can do your­self, right now. For in­stance, it is a very good idea to set a re­minder on your phone or com­puter, prompt­ing you to get up ev­ery hour or so and go for a short walk or stand up and do some gen­tle stretches. This will im­me­di­ately take some load off your neck, shoul­ders and back.

It is also ex­tremely im­por­tant to have a clear un­der­stand­ing of what a good work setup is; it in­volves the fol­low­ing points. Why not try this when you are next at work?

NECK AND SHOUL­DER PAIN COMES FROM COM­PUT­ING WITH BAD ER­GONOMICS.

• Make sure that the chair which is be­ing used has a good lum­bar sup­port; al­ter­na­tively, a lum­bar roll can be used.

• Push the chair right in and make sure that only the el­bows are hang­ing off the desk.

• Al­ways us­ing a por­ta­ble mouse if work­ing on a lap­top.

• Make sure that there is a 90-de­gree bend at the hips, knees and an­kles.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it is very help­ful to work on strength­en­ing your pos­tural and core mus­cles.

TRY THIS SIM­PLE EX­ER­CISE WHICH IS AIMED AT THE POS­TURAL MUS­CLES:

Stand­ing up, move the shoul­ders down and back. Make sure that you don’t arch your lower back. Hold for 5 sec­onds. Re­peat 12 times. This can be done up to 3-4 times per day and is a good ex­er­cise to do af­ter sit­ting for a long time. Make sure, though, that if you get any pain which is not of a mus­cu­lar na­ture, that you stop the ex­er­cise straight away and speak to your phys­io­ther­a­pist. Your phys­io­ther­a­pist can also show you other sim­ple and ef­fec­tive ex­er­cises which im­prove your pos­ture and core strength.

Clin­i­cal Pi­lates is a very ef­fec­tive ap­proach which specif­i­cally works on the pos­ture and core. When your core and pos­tural mus­cles are strong you are far less likely to in­jure your­self at work.

Mar­garita Gure­vich is Se­nior Phys­io­ther­a­pist and uses Clin­i­cal Pi­lates, SCENAR Ther­apy & other ev­i­dence-based tech­niques, in­clud­ing Real Time Ul­tra­sound and McKen­zie Treat­ment. Mar­garita spe­cialises in sports in­juries, women’s health (in­clud­ing in­con­ti­nence) and gas­troin­testi­nal is­sues. Mar­garita may be con­tacted via her web­site.

IT IS VERY HELP­FUL TO WORK ON STRENGTH­EN­ING YOUR POS­TURAL AND CORE MUS­CLES.

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