Two muscles causing pain at the office — and how to relieve it
You don’t need to be an expert on the musculoskeletal system to know how to relieve muscle tension. Maybe you’ve already studied tips on proper desk ergonomics and safe workplace habits — but with a little help from Laser Spine Institute, you’ll learn about two muscles that commonly cause neck and back pain and how to relieve their tension after your long day at the office.
Tackling trapezius muscle pain
You know those tension headaches you get behind one or both eyes? Your trapezius muscles may be to blame for neck pain and headaches. Shaped almost like trapezoids or inverted triangles, this pair of muscles extends from the base of your skull to your shoulder blades on both sides. These muscles greatly influence your neck’s range of motion as they support bending, rotation and extension.
Workplace habits that can tighten your trapezius muscles include:
- Hunching forward at your desk. Instead: Keep your posture in check throughout the day.
- Cradling the phone between ear and shoulder. Instead: Try using Bluetooth or a headset.
- Carrying a heavy laptop bag. Instead: Lighten your load and don’t forget to alternate shoulders.
To relieve trapezius muscle pain, shoulder rolls and shrug exercises may do the trick. You can also use a foam roller or tennis ball to relieve pressure points by pressing against a wall. For severe tension, try visiting a massage therapist, then use these other exercises to prevent your muscles from tightening again.
Practicing piriformis stretches
You can develop back pain from sitting too long — and that’s where health concerns like dormant butt syndrome and piriformis syndrome come into the picture. While you may have never heard the name piriformis, this important muscle extends from your lower spine to your upper thighbone on both sides of the body. You may experience lower back pain and sciatica if one of your piriformis muscles becomes tense.
Office activities that can irritate your piriformis muscle include:
- Lifting heavy supplies. Instead: Ask for help and use proper lifting technique.
- Sitting too long. Instead: Get up and stretch every hour.
- Using an unsupportive chair. Instead: Add a lumbar support pillow for cushioning.
To stretch your piriformis muscle, lay on your back with both knees bent. Place your left ankle against your right knee, then place your hands behind your right thigh to gently lift your right leg forward toward your chest. You should feel a hip stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
While working in an office may not be as physically demanding as other occupations, it can lead to chronic neck and back problems over time. By knowing which muscles might be the culprits of your spine pain at work, you can work them out in no time. If you suspect your neck or back pain is caused by something more serious than sore muscles, contact Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost MRI review.*