Daisy is a very bendy little thing.  For anyone already wondering what the heck I’m talking about, Daisy is my little girl (4 months old, adorable, etc, etc…all the stuff a new mum should say!) and she has just found her feet!!  That means that, alongside everything else she can get her hands on, her feet are now also going in her mouth!  It made me realise just how wonderfully bendy we are when we’re born and the level of movement our bodies have.  She wriggles (and giggles) everywhere.

Compare that to me…in my 40s and seizing up!  OK, so I can still get my toes in my mouth (not a pretty sight, admittedly, nor something I am in the habit of boasting about), but my back, neck and shoulders are sore and tight and need stretching out.  And then I compare myself to some of my clients who have real problems with their backs and I feel remarkably lucky.

As the Spa’s resident Sports Masseuse I see people with all sorts of problems, but obviously being within spitting distance of Birmingham’s business district, I see a fair number of men and women with shoulder pain, neck pain, headaches, poor range of motion, generally primarily caused by life!  No specific incidents – they don’t have whiplash, they haven’t been caught between two prop forwards in a blistering rugby tackle, they haven’t even slept awkwardly or sat in a draught (my mum always said that caused neck pain – still not sure I really believe her!).  It’s just life that causes their pain.  The physical and mental stress of today’s working life: sitting at a desk, working on a PC, driving long distances, studying…all the stuff that most of us do regularly if not day in day out.

So what is it about those activities that makes them so bloody painful in the long term?  Well, let’s think about your head.  I found this lovely excerpt online (with thanks to Danny Yee, whoever he may be):

” Average Human Head Weight: I couldn’t find any references for this online, so I asked around my workplace (the Department of Anatomy & Histology, University of Sydney). The most convincing response came from the service room where the technical officers actually cut up the bodies: ‘An adult human cadaver head cut off around vertebra C3, with no hair, weighs somewhere between 4.5 and 5 kg, constituting around 8% of the whole body mass.'”

So, with that delightful image in mind…your poor little neck is lugging around the equivalent of 10 bags of sugar all day every day.  The muscle at the top of your back that goes into your neck and across your shoulders (the trapezius) is primarily responsible for this amazing feat of endurance.  Do we love our trapezius?  Do we applaud it regularly for the service it provides??  Do we even know where it is or what it does???  Do we heck. 

So, you sit at your pc or studies and you lean over.  Not a lot, just a little, but now you’re putting extra strain on that poor muscle which is now trying to support a head that is stuck in one position and not even held beautifully balanced above the neck that’s meant to support it.  Your shoulders round forward to work the keyboard or so you can lean your elbows on your desk (yet more strain for your trapezius and a handful of other muscles that support your rotator cuff (the bit that works your shoulders)).  Your pectoral muscles (the ones in your chest) shorten cos you’re hunched forward, and you get a build up of lactic acid in your back and shoulder muscles where they’re working really hard to support your appalingly bad posture….

…sorry, I’m boring you, aren’t I?  (I must be…I’m boring myself and I find this stuff interesting!).

Anyway, the whole point of this is that there’s a whole lot of stuff you can do to help yourself if you get this sort of neck, shoulder and back pain.  Regular stretching, breaks from your work and just thinking about your posture is a good start.  Try looking in shop windows as you pass at the posture you hold as you walk, and start to make a conscious effort to stand tall and give your muscles a fighting chance.  And of course (and here’s the plug!) MASSAGE!!  Come and see me or one of the other girls in the Spa for a good sports or deep tissue massage.  In just half an hour we can improve your range of movement, loosen up your muscles, help to release your shoulder blades, and more!  Really, honestly, seriously.  Regular massage can help you avoid a whole range of different problems caused by Upper Cross Syndrome (yes, what I’ve just described has a name).  Why not come in and treat yourself to a half hour one lunchtime and see what a difference it can make.