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Posted on 03-29-2011

By: David Vargas LMT

Do you work in a cubicle or are tied to a desk for hours on end? If so, then you
might want to look into massage as another weapon in your war against poor posture or chronic back and neck pain. Working as a massage therapist for an integrative medical center in SoHo, iʼve seen the advantages of adding this type of therapy to the regimen. !    Most people working at a desk all day are usually stressed out due to tight deadlines or piling workloads. This stress triggers the sympathetic response, by this I mean the famed "fight or flight" response which affects the body as a whole. In addition to increasing oneʼs heart rate, breathing patterns begin to change along with anxiety. Digestive issues begin to occur due to the change of blood flow from the "rest & digest" response to the sympathetic. I liken it to when you were a kid playing tag, when youʼre on base thereʼs no problems, but when youʼre being chased all of the focus goes to getting you out of the situation, you dodge and run to avoid being caught. Now imagine that feeling but behind a desk, though the intensity isnʼt the same, all you need is to increase above the norm for an extended period of time to contribute to wear and tear. The reason iʼm saying all of this is because stress is finally being seen as a viable health problem with the ability to physically manifest itself as shortened muscle groups, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and anxiety just to name a few.

Enter massage, now that youʼre not sleeping and pushing your body at the same pace you could push your mind, itʼs time to decelerate and return your body to its normal pace. Massage has been shown to decrease stress and increase oneʼs parasympathetic response giving the body a chance to play catch up. Just like an
engine that been running at max capacity, we must slowly bring it back down to cool off or itʼll overheat and break down. !    Now letʼs say you donʼt mind the stress, itʼs the "bad back" or "stiff neck" that youʼre worried about. Letʼs break apart what happens when youʼre sitting at a desk for hours. Weʼll focus on the head starting with forward head posture and the infamous slouch, iʼm not going to say I donʼt do it, thereʼs no way possible anyone can sit for 6 hours at a time and still have immaculate posture. With the head and shoulders coming forward an individualʼs center of gravity changes, because of this the body must compensate by making adjustments down the spine to accommodate the change. This is why when youʼre done working with one problem it seems as if another takes its place. The trick is to get your body to a point that if you were going to sit for hours youʼll be equipped to better deal with the situation. This can be done through physical therapy and chiropractics where the emphasis is put on strengthening weak muscle groups, lengthening short muscle groups, bringing your body into alignment and increasing your sense of proprioception ( oneʼs sense of spatial awareness or where body parts lie in relation to others). Though most people view massage as a luxury one partakes in while getting a wrap or facial, this is not the case.

Depending on the type of massage, it can compliment and accelerate an individualʼs care. A Licensed massage therapist practicing sports,deep tissue, and myofascial massage can identify and approach different issues such as shortened muscle groups, fascially adhered tissue, scar tissue, as well as assessing the range of motion at various joints to advance an individualʼs care. We can also increase a clientʼs sense of proprioception by allowing them to feel their body in a way different than other

professions. Direct contact brings a patient out of their mind and back into their body enabling and individual to get back into their skin. The benefit of a medical center like Living Well Medical P.C. is that itʼs integrative, we work together as a team to provide a higher lever of client centered care. The key to this is the willingness to leave egos at the door and listen to what everyone has to say to the benefit of the patient.

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