A lot of people that I treat have ongoing aches and pains that can be directly linked to the nature of the work that they do. Sometimes it may be related to poor posture, sometimes it is due to a lot of manual handling, but whatever the cause the end result can be a lot of discomfort for the person affected.

Most types of occupation share similarities in the way they can cause muscle tension and pain, for example Lawyers spend a lot of time reading documents, particularly if their work involves preparation of evidence etc for a court hearing, and recruiters spend a lot of time on the phone and reading CV documents. In Leeds there is an abundance of recruitment companies, and I’ve treated a lot of ‘head hunters’ over the last few years with sports massage therapy, and it’s not the case that people who work in recruitment have specific problems that other office workers do not, it’s just that recruiters are a good example of people who spend large amounts of time through the day, sitting at a desk with a phone held to their ear, which is something that will almost always result in some discomfort in the neck/shoulders, and upper back. It’s very difficult to do much about this whilst at work, the simplest thing to do is use a headset whilst on the phone, you may feel as though you work at ‘mission control’ and are about to launch a rocket into space, but it will help reduce tension in these muscles as a result, ideally, the key is to do something that is counteractive to loosen up and mobilise those muscles that tighten up and ache. A good example of this is going to the gym and focusing on some weights/strength exercises that target the muscles in your trapezius and shoulder girdle, these muscles help to raise and lower the shoulders, and in my experience as a sports massage therapist I’ve seen first hand that when people are sitting hunched over a desk for long periods of time, these muscles are held in a tightened state and not actually moving much at all, and this, I believe, is the main cause of the problem. Deep sports massage applied to the muscles in the shoulder area will help relieve the symptoms, but it is equally important that these muscles are kept mobile with a variety of different exercises.

In a similar way, hairstylists spend a large amount of time during the day on their feet and holding their arms up either with a dryer in one hand, or scissors etc, in the other (unfortunately, being a BALDY I haven’t had the experience of having my hair cut for years! but I do also treat quite a few people who do this type of work). The constant elevation of the arms and shoulders through a very repetitive movement leads to a lot of stiffness and sometimes that deep aching sensation that can sometimes actually feel like burning in the muscles, with occasional referred symptoms into the neck and the base of the skull (sub occipital muscles), and a routine sports massage treatment will help alleviate these symptoms, but I also recommend exercising with some dumbbells/hand weights paying particular attention to performing some full range of movement ‘shrugging’ exercises to get some flexibility back into these muscle groups.

Dentists and healthcare workers such as paramedics can encounter a few problems on a daily basis, dentists in particular because of the fact that they can often be seated on a stool, but also ‘hunched’ over the patient whilst they do their work, and this can lead to an exaggerated rounding of the upper back, called kyphosis, which in the long term can lead to neck pain and movement dysfunction, making the type of work involved more uncomfortable to handle. Paramedics have to face a whole variety of ‘hurdles’ during their working day, and usually they have to assist with the moving and lifting of patients (some of them also very heavy in body weight) and also lift ‘awkwardly’ and/or having to catch or stop a patient from falling or tripping whilst being manoeuvred into an ambulance can place a lot of stress on the body’s biggest and most functional muscles. Sports massage is of great benefit to Paramedics because their job in many ways can be like the sport of ‘wrestling’ having to lift and grapple is always potentially damaging if your body is not conditioned and supple.

Sports massage is part of a twin edged approach to taking good care of your body, the other side to this is strengthening and conditioning the muscles to even out imbalance and weakness, and this is something that I’ll also be talking about in some more of my upcoming blog posts.