How to Give a Massage to Relieve Computer-Related Aches and Pains
Most of us sit too still for too long when we’re in front of our computers. As a result, our bodies hold tension in certain sets of muscles that are held in contracted positions for extended periods of time. Massage is a great way to alleviate all of that tension. Here are some specific massage techniques to use on anyone who is experiencing discomfort from long hours at a computer.
Working with your partner on a mat on the floor can allow you to exert downward pressure without putting strain on your own body. Some of these positions can be modified so that your partner is in a chair. How well that will work depends on the relative heights of the giver your partner, and the chair, but props like pillows or a footstool can help, if your partner is not flexible enough to sit comfortably on the floor.
- Stand behind your partner, who should be seated on a mat on the floor with her legs crossed or straight out in front of them.
- With the outside margin of one of your feet forward (that is, pigeon-toed), slide your foot forward and support your partner’s back with your lower leg.
- Your other leg should be far back to give you stability as you lean your palms on their shoulders, gradually leaning more heavily with your fingers pointed forward and then out over the sides of their shoulders.
Press on the shoulders with your palms. Note the use of your leg to stabilize her back.
- Palm the shoulders in this way about four times in each position.
- Sink down on one knee, supporting the back as you do so.
- Place your foot flat on the mat so you can put their left upper arm over your thigh. They should be comfortably upright.
- Tilt their head to the left, and place your forearm where the right side of their neck changes angle at her shoulder, with your palm facing down.
- Rotate your forearm to the right five or six times, starting each time at the same point at the base of the neck and rotating your arm so the palm of your hand goes from facing downward to facing upward.
Use your thigh to support your partner’s arm before working on her shoulder.
- Lean gently into the forearm at first, gradually sinking your weight into the stroke.
- Reach down, grasp the right elbow, and bring the arm up, taking the wrist in your left hand and keeping her elbow in your right hand.
- Rotate the arm six or eight times, keeping the wrist and elbow roughly at the same level and working the edge of their stretch as your rotate the upper arm back toward you.
- Place their hand behind their neck, and with your left hand, gently pull the elbow in a bit closer to their head.
Lift your partner’s elbow and place their hand behind their neck.
- Using the entire palm of your hand to prevent pinching, squeeze the back of the arm up and down the triceps muscle.
- Holding the elbow, place their arm back in her lap, and take her other arm off your thigh and place it in their lap.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Then slide down so you’re kneeling with open knees behind your partner, supporting the shoulders with your hands as you change position.
- Work the upper shoulder muscles by lifting and squeezing the upper trapezius muscles for a minute or two or until you feel a softening of the muscles. (This motion is called petrissage.)
- Perform circular friction along the muscles to each side of the spine up and down the neck for about a minute.
- Tilt your partner’s head forward and lace your fingers together, placing the heels of your hands on the sides of their neck and sliding them toward each other off the back of the neck.
Use the heels of your hands to apply strokes to the back of your partner’s neck.
- Move up and down the neck, repeating this stroke in three or four more positions on her neck.
- Apply petrissage to her deltoids, the muscles that cap the shoulders, squeezing the muscles and rotating her upper shoulders if they seem to be rigid.
- Return to a kneeling position, lifting their arms over their head, and bring her into a forward bend.
- Press both hands at once on each side of the spine, gradually walking them up to the upper shoulders and back down to the waist. Be sure to gently lean into the back to enhance the stretch. Check in with your partner to be sure you’re not pushing her too far forward for their comfort.
Bring into a forward bend and work on the back with your hands and forearms.
- Placing your forearms on each side of the spine, make a sawing motion with your arms up and down the back, parallel to the spine, creating heat in the muscles with the friction.
- You may follow this with gentle, percussive motion with the sides of your hands (called tapotement) in the forward bend position before pressing the mid-back (not over the vertebrae!) with one hand and using the other hand on her upper shoulder to bring her back into an upright position.
Be careful to not push your partner’s range of motion beyond their comfort level, and avoid rolling your arm on the bony areas of their upper shoulders.
A massage is one of the best gifts you can give. And now that you know how to give a massage that will alleviate all of those aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, you will be a hero to anyone who has to spend long days at the computer!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Massage Illustrated by Victoria Jordan Stone, CMT, and Bob Shell