Here’s a test for you. Pick a couple of “typical” days over the next week. Then keep track of how much time you spend with your arms forward of your body, your fingers and hands curled.
It’s the position you assume when using a computer, driving, creating some types of art, cooking, using an elliptical machine with arms… If you’re like most people it will be quiet a few hours.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that position. It’s just that your body is more adapted to variety rather than repetition. When you use the same muscles again and again, especially in a static position they get tired, shortened, and sometimes misaligned (along with your bones.)
Unfortunately this kind of muscle use doesn’t give you muscle definition. Instead you can get muscle soreness and nerve pain in addition to numbness, weakness, and damage. In my work as a massage therapist many of my clients experience discomfort in their shoulders, forearms, and wrists. You might hear names like carpal tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome, or tendinitis.
The repetition is stressful to your body and the resulting pain and discomfort brings a psychological stress. You can’t be as productive. You might even get crabby. You might have to restrict your activities. No one wants to have to give up his or her playtime.
One of the best things you can do is stretch regularly. For every 30 minutes you spend in the shoulder forward, arms extended posture spend at least a couple minutes stretching in the other direction.
Prevention isn’t sexy. I get it. But feeling good and being able to work and play without pain and discomfort are very sexy.
Here’s one stretch for while you’re at your desk or sitting in traffic. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
And then check out the next cool tool for a stretch for your off work time.