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Massage/Bekah writes: I have muscle knots that won't go away.


I work at a desk all day and i have horrible knots near my shoulder blades. i go
to a message and chiropractor twice a week, what can i do at work (besides ice)
and what is a good back messager i can buy?

Thoracic Extension over a bolster
Thoracic Extension ove  
Great question.  
Most of us work at a desk for some part of the day.  And most of us don't know the slightest thing about what we're doing to ourselves!  

In the sitting position in your usual chair, try relaxing every single muscle in your body, and remember where each part of your body falls.  

I'm willing to bet that your head and shoulders fall forward, pulling your body with them piece by piece.
That means that when we're sitting and NOT letting ourselves fall forwards, SOMETHING is holding us up.  It's those muscles that are complaining at us now.  
Muscles HATE being used constantly.  They're rock stars, they like to be used dramatically and then allowed to relax.  So if they're recruited as boring old bureaucrats, doing the same thing day after day, the brain will eventually conserve energy and lock the muscles on 'GO'.  Even when you're lying or asleep, they'll still be on 'GO'.   

Chapter 1)  Your HOMEWORK
Chapter 2)  Stop the injury process
Chapter 3)  A few tidbits that you can use on yourself

1.  Your homework:  Strength-building
Straight from training philosophy for every-day life:  Be sure to train for 150% of what you do everyday.
    If you're lifting heavy stuff, train for 150% of the weight.
    If you're doing long hours, train for a longer work day in some way.   (You can cheat, and train for 150% of the weight your muscles encounter.)

All of the massage and chiropractic in the world won't save you from overworking weak muscles, especially if those muscles are already MAD, MAD, MAD. See that your therapist (Chiro or RMT) has you on a vigorous strength-building regimen; what you're currently doing isn't working.  If they can't adequately SUPPORT YOU onto that regimen then find someone who can, such as a personal trainer.  Support means that they will do the full scope of home-care with you - design the program, teach it to you (three or four times if needed!!), check back with you on how it is doing, change it as it's needed... that's part of the profession, and if they don't do it, they're just taking your money.  Remind them what their job is, INSIST on it.

2.  Stop the injury process
One part you (and most office workers) missed is:  Why are you broken in the first place?
Office work is ALWAYS ergonomically bad.  Some people can get away with it, many can't.  YOU have to take responsibility to STOP the disease process; your condition is getting worse because you haven't solved your situation!  If you can't control the pain you're getting, shorten your day.  Increase your strength.  Make an equipment change.  Get an Occupational Therapist in on the deal; your workplace health coverage may cover it or your employer should.  Complain, scream, threaten lawsuits.  Get co-employees together to insist that you're given a workplace visit from a proper team to solve the problems that you're all having.  No employer WANTS to spend money on this stuff, so you'll have to push the rock uphill a bit.

3. A few tidbits
--Use ice only when you have inflammation.  You may not; try heat in the form of a heating pad that you plug in.  The microwavable ones are OK but cool off too fast and take too much work, in my opinion.  (Experts differ on the use of ice vs. heat, in case you get confused.  Try both.)

--Your office posture, standing posture and sitting posture are most likely TERRIBLE.  Get it evaluated by an expert.  Make sure you correct it - you'll be surprised by how much work it'll take (4-6 months!!)

--Massager:  In the clinic I use a small Thumper.  I'm not a big gadget lover, so you might want to ask around. Homedics manufactures a less expensive and equally good vibrating muscle massager.

Feel free to write back with other questions!  As usual, I wish I could see you in person, to get a better idea of what the problem is...

Cheers on your way to better health!
--Glenn Kukkee


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Glenn Kukkee, HBSc (Psychology), RMT


My unexpected specialty has been correction of disorders caused by working conditions. Who knew that office work could hurt so much and be so damaging? Your back and neck pain is correctable, let's talk about it. I also specialize in post-operative rehabilitation and if I don't know the answer I can at least point you in the right direction. I've been working on pre-medical studies on my way to becoming a doctor and would be happy to take questions about anatomy, physiology and all of that fun stuff too.


Full-time practice since 1993 across Canada
Post-operative rehabilitation and postural correction/persistant chronic overuse rehabilitation specialties

Wikipedia Frequent columnist in various newspapers Alternative and Integrative Medical Society columnist

Massage Therapy education: 2 years (CCMH, Newmarket ON), 1 year (WCCMT, New Westminster BC) Honours Bachelor of Science, Psychology major (Lakehead University, Thunder Bay ON)

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