Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: May 2022

Back Pain - Is the Ouch from Your Couch?

After sitting at your desk all day, don't you want to just kick back and, well, sit some more? Maybe you flop down on your comfy sofa, watch some TV, and perhaps doze off. Sure, it feels nice to nestle into the cozy cushions, but how do you feel getting back up? Is your back a little stiff or achy? Does back pain persist for the rest of the evening, or even into the next day? Maybe the muscles that were stretched out while you were balled up are surprised by the sudden call to action and spasm, leaving you limping from pain or perhaps unable to get up at all.

If this sounds familiar, you are far from alone. Our tech world has many of us sitting, hunched over our keyboards for hours every day. Sitting on the couch perpetuates that rounded posture. Even worse, couches are no longer reserved only for leisure time. Since more of us have been working from home, we've been inclined to ditch the office chair, and instead curl up on the couch with our laptops.

Our bodies adapt to the positions we are in most of the time. If we are slouching on the couch, our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia are being pulled out of alignment and conforming to the shape of the rounded spine. This also puts tremendous strain on our vertebrae and spinal discs. The more time our bodies spend in this posture, the more difficult it becomes to correct the alignment and ease any pain and discomfort.

I have helped hundreds of people with back pain, and not a single one has said that sitting on the couch makes it better. Quite the opposite. If you have back pain or spend most of your time sitting, I urge you to keep off the couch, or at least use it sparingly.

To improve poor posture, or prevent getting stuck in forward flexion, it's imperative to optimize the ergonomics of your work space. If you must sit on the couch, do your best to apply the same principles, e.g. have both feet on the floor, your lower back supported by a firm cushion, knees, hips, and elbows at 90 degree angles, etc.

It's also crucial to make sure you get plenty of movement throughout your day. Ideally, take at least a 30-second stretch break for every 30 minutes of sitting. Take walks outside, do some Yoga, dance - whatever you like, as long as you're moving your body. Here's a short and sweet article that lists some key benefits of movement, and helps you get started!

So, we can ward off the damaging effects of couch slouching with proper ergonomics and movement, but let's not forget massage therapy! A skilled massage therapist can help reduce back pain, release shortened tissues, activate weakened muscles, improve mobility, and bring balance back to the body. If you're in NYC, contact me to schedule a free consultation.

A healthy back is essential to healthy living and freedom of movement. Don't be lured by the couch. Instead, let it be a reminder to keep your spine long and strong!

And speaking of back health ...

Back Pain Relief Fast - Foam Roller Self-Massage

Welcome to another hands-free self-massage! Today, we're using the foam roller to get a wonderful back massage, focusing on the thoracic spine.

This is a quick and effective way to improve alignment, gain extension and length in the thoracic spine, and broaden through the front of the chest and shoulders.

This self-massage is perfect for those of you who spend a lot of time sitting, whether at your desk, in your car, on the couch, etc., and also for anyone experiencing back tension, stiffness, or soreness.

What's new with me ...

10 Reasons I Love My Mom

  1. For loving me even when I'm not so lovable
  2. For supporting me every step of the way, even when I decided to be an actor
  3. For staying on the phone while I rant, cry, and holler about injustice
  4. For spoiling me rotten
  5. For scolding my Spanish teacher when she gave me a bad grade
  6. For taking me to dance, tennis, and piano lessons (those sure paid off!)
  7. For always giving me the week's weather forecast
  8. For celebrating when the first spring flowers pop up
  9. For politely listening as I describe every detail of my day
  10. For keeping every one of my elementary school drawings, crafts, and homework assignments (It's okay to let go now, Mom)

Happy Mother's Day!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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