Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What I learned from the physical therapist

with 3 comments

The shoulder pain I’ve been experiencing when lifting my right arm, or moving it in certain directions, seems to be a direct consequence of my computer posture, which I’ve maintained over the past year or so: sitting before the screen (in an ergonomically sound chair), with my shoulders rolled forward—particularly the right shoulder, since that controls the mousing arm.

Eventually the muscles adjust to this position, and the top knob of the humerus moves forward a bit as the muscles shorten. Then, when I try to move the arm, the shorter (and tenser) muscles pull things together and pinch and it hurts: the little red warning light on my body dashboard.

So: what to do?

1. I got from the therapist a green marble Pro-Roller full-round: a 36″ cylinder 6″ in diameter of a very firm closed-cell foam. I lie supine on it, the cylinder under my spine, and with a folded bath towel (or two) to keep my head level (not elevated). Ten minutes lying on the Pro-Roller, then two minutes lying flat on the floor: it helps my shoulders relax and drift back to proper position.

2. When working at the computer, pause frequently and roll my shoulders back to stretch and relax the muscles, perhaps rolling my head about as well. I did a quick search and found this nice little timer: Instant Boss. The default setting is: 10 minutes work, 2 minutes break, repeated 5 times (for an hour’s work). Free, Windows only. (The Mac probably has it already built in.) You can change the work time, the break time, and the number of reps. I’ve set it to 10 minutes work, 1 minute break, 20 reps.

The therapist thinks now that I’m aware of what has caused the problem and the appropriate steps to remedy it, recovery will be relatively quick. Hope so.

Related useful info here.

Written by Leisureguy

24 January 2008 at 10:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

3 Responses

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  1. I have found the book Pain Free by Pete Egoscue to be immensely helpful with problems like these. The exercises he prescribes are simple, though can be time-consuming. But they are an effective treatment. He also wrote a book called Pain Free at Your PC which you could also check out.


    John Caneday

    24 January 2008 at 10:38 am

  2. I’ll take a look. Library Journal has an interesting comment on the second book you mention:

    The author of Pain Free returns to address the subject of pain caused by computer work. His philosophy is that carpal tunnel surgery, ergonomic chairs, and pain-killing medicines are poor choices for the treatment of this pain and that only the realignment of the body and correction of muscle weakness can fix computer-related stiff necks, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome. In plans for low, moderate, and heavy users of computers, Egoscue offers well-illustrated stretches and strengthening exercises. Though it is difficult to believe that all ergonomic devices are bad and that surgery is never necessary, some library patrons may be clamoring for alternative approaches to overuse injury. Otherwise, try more mainstream sources like Sandra Peddie’s The Repetitive Strain Injury Sourcebook (LJ 12/97) or Deborah Quilter’s The Repetitive Strain Injury Recovery Book (LJ 2/1/98), which were both written with the assistance of an M.D. This book is recommended only for public libraries where demand warrants. — Elizabeth A. Williams, Houston Acad. of Medicine-Texas Medical Ctr. Lib.</blockquote.



    24 January 2008 at 10:43 am

  3. Hello,
    We are pleased to see interest in our “Pain Free” Method. If we can be of any assistance to you or your subscribers please let us know. Best Regards


    Ashleigh Roda

    24 January 2008 at 2:35 pm

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