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Massage, stretch & strengthen your way to productivity

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August 27, 2010

Those slouching shoulders and forward head lean actually have a name. The popular look now crowding offices everywhere is commonly referred to as Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS).

This common postural deviation describes a compromise in the musculoskeletal system which tightens or facilitates the anterior compartment of the upper torso while at the same time weakening the posterior. It occurs when people spend too much time in seated position with a complete disregard for their bodily positioning.

Humans evolved into an upright static and dynamic lifestyle over the course of millions of years, yet only 150 years were required to counteract Mother Nature’s intent for our lifestyles.Obvious consequences loom. The aesthetics of this slouched forward positioning should be the least of your worries. UCS should be treated as a serious issue as a result of its affect on you, and thus your productivity.

Symptoms
Stretching your neck, living with low back pain, and dealing with migraines can get very old very quickly.Yet this is the reality many accountants live with on a day-to-day basis. Consistent with current health practices present in today’s society, solutions are often symptom based and rarely solve the underlying problem.When faced with low back pain, neck pain, shoulder numbness, or headaches, the easier solution is a pill that will quickly dissipate the pain and allow for continued productivity. This road leads directly to trouble.

Solutions
The sole aim of strategies for solving UCS is returning the body back into an upright posture. This is accomplished through a combination of massaging, stretching, and strengthening. Follow this quick template for some much needed relaxation and relief from postural pain:

1.    Massage: Choosing between a massage or performing self-massage techniques does not matter in this case as long as the focus is placed on improving the muscle tissue quality of the muscles involved in UCS. Extensive focus should be placed on chest, lats, and upper trap muscles.

2.    Stretch: Once some of the tightness is removed from the muscles involved in UCS, it is important to stretch them through their range of motion. Focus on stretching on the chest, lat, and neck muscles.

3.    Strengthening: The last, but probably most important, part of the equation is to “set” the new posture by strengthening the muscles that help support the body during prolonged seated positions. Through the utilization of rowing exercises and an exercise known as a the face pull, muscles in your back will be strengthened, making it easier for your own body to support itself upright.

You don't want to end up looking like this!

Coming from one of the largest accounting firms in the country, I witnessed pretty much everything accounting had to offer, from work experiences to stereotypes being either confirmed or denied.

Upper Cross Syndrome was definitely one of consistent characteristics emerging with many of my peers. In fact, this was the environment that allowed for me to see how detrimental symptoms and disorders associated with UCS can become. I watched a co-worker go from neck pain, to elbow soreness, to wrist pain, and finally into an aggressive form of carpal tunnel syndrome.

With each step, the attention was solely placed on single symptoms, never a broad approach and recognizing that postural issues were probably causing each and every one of the successive steps towards carpal tunnel. Next time you start stretching your neck out of discomfort, think twice before popping a pill.

Luke Sniewski currently works as a CPA as well as a fitness consultant. He works by weaving the health and wellness world with the business professional world. Working with companies and business professionals, his organization, LEAF, provides CPE courses that aim to improve the overall quality of life through the implementation of proactive lifestyles. Visit www.leaflifestyle.com for more details.

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