Changing Healthcare One Body at a Time – Computer Work
Last week I was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean thinking back on my adventure in Spain, where my daughter teaches yoga classes in Seville, and I tried to change healthcare—one body at a time.
My daughter has many talents, one of which is organizing events and time schedules. In Spain this is a very difficult challenge! However, while living and working in a culture that does not plan or follow through with commitments, she has been able to gather a group of friends and clients who truly love her, love what she does, and respond to her organizational efforts. Most of them are expats who have traveled the world, are very educated and self-motivated and appreciate quality education. I was grateful to meet and work with many of these friends and clients. I learn from each new body I work on, and I loved working with these new friends in Spain. I even had a chance to work on a friend of a friend who was visiting from Belgium. She works for Euro-AID, doing much of her work in Africa. It was fascinating listening to her stories of being a very white woman holding the power of millions of dollars among the very male dominated hierarchy in that country. I could have just listened to her, but there was work to be done. She loved the Body Logic work, bought some balls for herself, and hopefully will bring an introduction of this self-empowering healthcare to her part of the world. My daughter explained that many of the people I worked on will probably only stay in Seville four to six years because their employment is on a contract basis. I have great hope wherever they go, their knowledge and Yamuna balls will go with them!
The work my new friends do generally involves sitting for long hours at a computer every day. I could see this in their bodies. As computer work is what so many of us do, here are a few of the hazards to watch for and some suggestions for how to work with your body when you have to work with a computer.
- Hands, Wrists and Forearms. We do not give our hands, wrists, and forearms much thought unless they are causing us pain. What I saw was a lot of forearms stuck in a pronated rotation—the way the radius bone of our forearms has to rotate if it is going to type on a computer. When we are typing, the palm of the hand faces down, and the elbow is bent, and the fingers only move from the hand. Periodically, it will be important to do the opposite—stretch out the elbow, reach the palm to the ceiling grab the thumb and try to rotate the thumb the opposite way and try to make that rotation move all the way to the elbow. With the palm up and the elbow extended, pull the fingers and thumb down toward the floor, the opposite way that they usually are bent. Move the wrist around and around while extending fingers and thumb as far as possible.
- Elbows. The elbow is the joint that is between the hands and the shoulder. It operates very similarly to the knee. However, the knee gets a chance to move and exercise every time we walk. The elbow does not—especially if we are stuck at a computer. What I saw in many of these office workers was an elbow that can hardly extend itself. It is stuck in a bent position with the muscles of the forearm pulling tightly on it from below, especially the muscles that rotate the forearm into the position where the hands are working on a computer. Meanwhile, the muscles of the upper arm—the bicep and triceps—are hardly functioning at all. Taking time to open up the elbow, being aware of this imbalance above and below the joint while working with it, and trying to improve this imbalance, is an important repair for the whole shoulder to hand mechanism.
- Shoulders. With the head looking slightly downward and with the mind focused so intently on the job at hand, the shoulders naturally begin to slump forward and towards the chest—which is also dropped forward, increasing the problem. The first thing that needs to happen is to periodically take a break and think about where the ribcage is sitting and how we are breathing. Our breath can give us important feedback about how our ribcage is sitting. The lungs and diaphragm cannot breathe deeply in this forward locked computer position. Breath is such an important part of our well-being that we cannot afford to continually position ourselves in a way to cuts off our ability to breathe fully. So regularly take in as much air as you possibly can and see if this can lift and widen the ribcage. The shoulders sit better on an upright ribcage. However, even if the position of the ribcage is improved, years of forward slumping shoulders may have gotten the shoulders very stuck in that position. I did a LOT of shoulder work with my friends in Spain. They were amazed at how much better they felt when their shoulders were freed from their stuck-computer-position. Find someone to educate you about how your shoulder should move and how to free up its movement.
- Back to Shoulders to Elbow to Wrist to Hand. These joints should be connected in their movement much as our hips are connected to our feet. However, because much of our work is now typing on a keyboard, we are losing that connection. I saw this repeatedly. Throwing a ball is good therapy for this, feeling how the movement begins from the back and moves through each of the joints to release the power into the ball. Or perhaps now and then you can stand up, put your hands on the desk, bend the elbows and feel the connection of hands to back as you straighten the elbows. Do this facing the desk and also facing away from the desk with the shoulders open.
- Neck. The neck has a very difficult job holding up all those brains while you are looking at your computer screen. It is critical that the neck be given some rest and care from having such a tough job! Of course, I love the ball rolling of the neck, but even regular gentle stretching and movement of the head in lots of different positions will help.
- Let the chin hang down to the chest and use your hands to pull the back of the skull away from your shoulders.
- Grab the bone behind your ear with your opposite hand and lengthen it away while pulling the bone above the shoulder on that side down.
- Massage the muscles around the collar bone.
- Grab any muscles in your neck that feel tight and just squeeze them like a sponge for a minute or so. Enjoy the release.
If there are other things you do that you have found helpful in dealing with computer work, please share. A big thank you to the wonderful clients who trusted me with their bodies during my short time in Spain. To all of you asking when I would return, I am certain I will make my way back across the great waters someday, and I look forward to working with you again. In the meantime, happy rolling!