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Ask A therapist! How do long hours at a desk affect your body?

Heather Oct 1, 2013

There are many problems that come from working at a desk for 8 hours a day.  Even given breaks, the human body was not made to hold one position for long periods of time.  The stress that is placed upon the muscles of the forearms and low back is tremendous.  I have found that the stress can even travel up into the neck if done over long periods of time.

Let's think about an interesting facet of the body; muscle has memory, and your muscles will attempt to maintain the same position you spend most of your time in. Long periods of typing engages the biceps to hold up your arms, even if you have armrests, and that means the muscle tends to remain tightened in that position.  In that position you also have to stabilize the forearm so you can work those keys.  That is a lot of muscles to have tight 8 hours a day, not to mention the potential time spent on the computer at home.  Needless to say desk workers tend to have a lot of arm and hand issues.  Carpal Tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome, all the way up into the neck where headaches abound.

The lower back gets involved because it has to support the entire torso in that same static position.  The psoas, a deep lower back muscle, gets contracted and when you stand up, it pulls on the lower back and can cause quite a bit of pain.  The sciatic nerve is compressed when sitting, and can shoot pain down into the legs.  Blood circulation can be cut off if you don't have the proper chair, leading to swollen feet and ankles.

Massages are an important part of combating the effect of desk work on your body!  Massage moves the fluids around the body, allowing the muscles to relax and lymph to return to the lymph nodes draining those puffy ankles.  Massage can help ease that low back ache and can even relieve the pain of carpal tunnel.  Massage can make tension headaches melt away, and if done regularly, can prevent future injury.

Massage is essential to a balanced wellness plan, prevent the problem before it affects your health!

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