Sitting at a desk for a large part of the day, answering telephones and fixating upon computer screens can become overwhelmingly tiring on the body. A decent chair and correctly positioned work -station can moderately help to stave off back, neck or shoulder pain.

I must reiterate the point, moderately. A good chair and correct ergonomics will help but not solve the problem. The issue with pain at your desk environment arises from misuse, habituated postures and repetitive motion strain (RMS).

The above mentioned cause our muscles to become chronically contracted, thereby creating an imbalance to our movements and posture.

Habitually contracted muscles can cause pain and fatigue through constant use and are often confused with the signs of growing old.

Years of adjusting to these changes can lead to pain in the back, neck, shoulders, hips and knees, eventually leading to issues such as sciatica, scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, disc degeneration, arthritis and other structural/functional issues.

There is also another reason why our muscles become habitually contracted in the workplace – emotional stress.

Stress responses when repeatedly triggered will cause us to hold ourselves (muscles) tightly, emotionally we might feel pressured, short tempered fearful or overwhelmed. When these signals hit our brain the trigger is to contract muscles, this can bring about fatigue, lack of concentration and pain. When this cycle is repeated over and over, we become trapped in a vice like grip of muscular contraction, impinging upon our every movement and thought.

How Can You Change This?

To change this cycle that repeats itself day after day, you need to introduce new co-ordinated patterns of movements into your workplace and life in general. Muscles habitually contract because strong reflex messages from involuntary levels of the brain instruct them to do so. The movement technique of Hanna Somatic Education can help to override this action by teaching individuals very easy to perform somatic exercises that take very little time to do. The exercises are known as "pandiculations", are a contraction and slow elongation of specific muscles, a kind of whole body yawn.

They are practiced on the floor, slowly, with awareness and always staying within the boundaries of comfort so as not to evoke a resistance from muscles. The slow nature of the movement stimulates the higher/voluntary levels of the brain, this helps to relax muscles and override the involuntary habit to contract them.

There are two ways to learn somatic exercises, via 1-1 sessions with a Hanna Somatic Educator or Somatic Classes.

Either way, the educative process helps to restore a balance to your musculature system. You can experience an immediate improvement to your posture, comfort levels, flexibility and all round wellbeing.

In addition to the floor exercises, you can be taught simple postural enhancing exercises for your chair at work. The contract and release type movements can help to relax back, neck, shoulder and abdominal muscles whilst at your workstation.

In Conclusion:

Using somatic exercises on a daily basis can quickly help to change long - standing habits picked up in the work environment and other areas of life.

Sitting in your chair for long periods will become easier, the exercises are the tool for managing your stress and creating a freedom and comfort to movements.

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