Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2012

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technique CLASSROOM TO CLIENT | @WORK | ESSENTIAL SKILLS | MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES Keying Into Office Worker Injuries By Whitney Lowe Sitting at an office workstation all day is commonplace in Western society and often leads to musculoskeletal pain or injuries. Because office workers make up a huge sector of the workforce, it is likely that massage therapists will have them as clients. Most injuries for this group involve chronic and repetitive suboccipital muscles motion tasks, like typing on a computer keyboard, but accidents or mishaps, eyestrain, lifting or movement injuries, poor ergonomics, and a host of other causes can be factors. Headache pain induced by environmental factors can also lead to musculoskeletal symptoms such as chronic tension or myofascial trigger points. However, the majority of musculoskeletal injuries and pain affecting office workers result from sitting for long periods in a static position and performing repetitive motions with the distal upper extremity. The following discussion focuses on pain in the neck, shoulder, and upper extremities, and explores treatment options. 1 The four suboccipital muscles can be the focal points for troublesome trigger points. 3D anatomy images. Copyright Primal Pictures Ltd. CERVICAL REGION Muscle tension and pain in the cervical region are common in this worker population. Most cervical pathologies result from long periods with the head and shoulders in a static position. Many office workers develop chronic neck complaints from postural distortions related to their particular setup or positioning at the computer (such as forward head posture). Keeping muscles in a shortened position for a long period frequently leads to the development of myofascial trigger points. Muscles in the region of a trigger point's pain referral pattern can also become hypertonic and produce biomechanical dysfunction. Office workers holding postural distortions in the head and neck region experience a pattern of trigger points and related dysfunction. Excessive forward head posture is the most common distortion and produces hyperextension at the atlanto-occipital joint. This postural disorder is a contributing factor in several pathologies. Chronic shortening of the suboccipital muscles routinely leads to trigger points in the four suboccipital muscles (Image 1), producing headache pain and pain referral along the lateral side of the head near the temporalis muscle. Pain referral in this region can lead to increased tightness in the temporalis muscle, which can contribute to temporomandibular joint dysfunction. 104 massage & bodywork july/august 2012

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