We all know that sitting in front of a computer is not good. In fact, I am hunched over my computer right now and it is not good! I can feel the tension in my neck and shoulders building as I type.
The fact is whether we know it's bad or not, many of our jobs require that we are in front of a computer for large chunks of time. Or school. Or something. In order to deal with this, I have used my training as an acupuncturist to develop a short acupressure routine. I use this routine every day to help me deal with neck and shoulder pain at work, and I thought it could be useful to share. The whole thing will take less than 6 minutes and can done as often as possible. Just remember this is a routine, so it works best when all steps are followed.
Step 1: Take Regular Breaks.
Your body is a highly developed machine that has evolved over 200,000 years to specialize in distance running. It is simply not realistic to ask this highly specialized running machine to sit still in a chair in front of a computer for hours at a time without injury.
Thankfully, our bodies are also amazingly adaptable so with short, regular breaks, you can actually spend large chunks of time at work. But the breaks are essential to keeping your circulation moving and preventing the neck and shoulder pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and headaches that this kind of work can bring.
When you take a break, take at last 60 seconds to stand and walk around. You can be on the phone (with a headset) if necessary. But be sure to take that 60 seconds. And do it at least twice an hour. I'm talking about bearest minimum. Of course it would be better to take 5 minutes per hour, but I am trying to keep this realistic and practical.
Step 2: Stretch your neck muscles.
Do this right after sitting back down. Don't make a big thing out of it, just try to touch your ear to your shoulder and hold it for 10 seconds, then switch sides. Remember to breathe while you stretch. Repeat as many times as feels comfortable.
If you want some more involved stretches for your neck, check out these free videos!
Step 3: Press on SI 3 for 30 seconds.
Find this point on the pinky end of each hand. When a loose fist is made, the point is found in the depression just below the knuckle. See the picture, it's much easier to find that way. That black dot is not an unfortunate mole, that's where the point is. So find the black dot and press in. It should be sensitive but not painful. Rub the point for in a circular motion for 30 seconds then switch hands. SI 3's proper name is "Back Ravine." In acupuncture theory it is called the master point of the spine because it opens a channel that runs up your spine and can thereby release tension in your neck. If possible put all of your attention on your neck as you rub the point. For 30 seconds per hand, try to think of nothing but your neck as you rub the point. Imagine the muscles relaxing.
Step 4: Press on GB 20 and then GB 21.
These are two local points on the Gall Bladder channel. Pretty classic neck pain points. I won't go too far into the theory here, it's self explanatory why they work. Just remember to do each point on each side for 30 seconds and rub in a circular motion. Don't be shy with these points, really dig in there. See the picture to locate. I like to put my hands on my head almost like a cop is reading me my rights. That allows both thumbs to rest in GB 20 naturally.
For GB 21 I don't have anything clever. Just find the spot and dig in.
Step 5: Press on SI 9.
This unartful picture of a shoulder includes a muscle called the teres minor in red (yes, I used my kids' crayons). It is one of the muscles that connects your back with your shoulder. The picture is showing your shoulder blade from the back. The point we are looking for is easily felt once you find this muscle. Basically touch the back part of your armpit, you'll feel a muscle. If not move your arm so that your elbow is in front of your face.
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Still in pain? Be sure to read our free Ultimate Guide to Neck and Shoulder Pain by clicking here! This is a longer, more involved post that will go into more detail as to why your neck and shoulders hurt and what you can do about it at home or at work. No email address or anything required, just click here and check it out for free. I hope it helps!