Most common Desk Injuries; and how SAANA Classic can help reduce pain and further injury

I’ve recently completed my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training Certification with SAANA Yoga Downtown Toronto, and this is the article I wrote as my final paper. For your information: SAANA Classic is a Hatha style sequence designed for all yoga levels. It is meant to help a practitioner build strength in their yoga practice and to avoid wrist injury or pain.

The most common Desk Injuries are:

  1. Posterior cervical dorsal syndrome or “computer back” (c-curved spine, head too far forward)
  2. Mouse shoulder, a common Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) caused by holding the arm outstretched for long periods of time.
  3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arises primarily from compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. It is the most common and most costly RSI
  4. Tennis Elbow, or lateral epicondylitis is another type of RSI. It is a tendonitis affecting the common extensor tendon at the lateral (outside) area of the elbow. 
  5. Lumbar sprains and strains
  6. Disc injuries
  1. Posterior Cervical Dorsal Syndrome

Is a very common injury in modern society where there is an excessive curving of the lower, middle, and upper back; a forward drawn head; rounded shoulders; and excessive forward curving of the cervical spine. It is a natural result of prolonged sitting work, especially with computers or high cellphone use. These postural defects can cause:

  • headaches
  • excessive muscle tension in your neck, chest, shoulders, arms and forearms, back, hips, glutes and thighs
  • strains and sprains in your upper body
  • joint dysfunction and sprains in your neck, back, and ribs
  • increased loading on the intervertebral discs of your spine
  • impaired function of your diaphragm, causing the muscles lifting your upper ribs and shoulders to become overactive and subject to problems

Mouse Shoulder

Mouse Shoulder comes from prolonged elevation and bracing of the shoulder to accommodate an inappropriately positioned mouse, or performing short range movements of the mouse, or both. Mouse shoulder can develop into a more serious rotator cuff injury.

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

It is the most common nerve compression injury in the body and it is the costliest RSI. Typical symptoms include

  • tingling and numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers
  • night pain
  • weakness in grasping, thumb and index finger pinching, and other thumb movements
  • clumsiness, such as awkward hand movements and dropping things

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a very common cause of elbow and forearm pain. It can cause mild to severe pain in the lateral elbow and may be aggravated by grasping and excessive finger motions. The pain may also radiate up the arm or down into the forearm.

Lumbar Sprains and Strains

Lumbar spine sprains (ligament or joint capsule tears) and strains (muscle or tendon tears) are common in office workers due to the high loads placed on the spine during sitting. Sprains and strains may cause back and hip pain as well as muscle swelling and tightness.

Disc Injuries

Increased loading on the spine due to prolonged and faulty sitting postures may cause sprains of the outer (annular) fibers of the intervertebral discs. In more advanced cases the nucleus of the disc may protrude into or even through the annular fibers of the disc, resulting in a herniated disc. Herniated discs may cause back pain, leg pain and altered sensation down to the foot, weakness, walking difficulties, or combination of these symptoms.

How SAANA Classic Can Help

Unfortunately, there is no ergonomic set up on Earth that will prevent injuries related to desk related work. The only way to avoid further pain and stress on the body is if you take a break every 20-30 minutes to get up move, and change positions. But how often do we do that? Stress, long hours doing repetitive movements, and general muscle fatigue, it is no surprise that desk related injuries are the most common and re-occurring injury. However, within SAANA Classic, there is plenty of opportunity to participate in postures, breathing exercises, and therapy techniques to balm the pain that comes from desk work and the stress associated with it.

  1. The Breathing Exercises that are performed at the top and bottom of the SAANA Classic Sequence help to counteract the lack of deep belly breaths associated with desk work. Stress, long hours at the desk, poor posture, all contribute to us not being able to take full, long deep breaths. Instead, we only breathe into our upper chest, causing us to hyperventilate while we are in this stress cycle. Square breath and Villoma help to ground the body and train you to take longer deeper breaths into the belly. These breaths help us to expand into our chest, shoulders, ribcage and upper back. Allowing these muscles to relax so that we can process the emotions stored in our bodies from being in this stress cycle throughout the day.
  2. SAANA Classic is designed with the health of the spine, hips, hamstrings and shoulders in mind. There aren’t many flows in SAANA Classic. This is to avoid wrist pain or any further injury associated with desk related afflictions. In fact, the first three sun salutations are modified. The majority of the exercises found in the sequence are there to stretch the muscles that become tight during desk work (glutes, chest, lower back, hips) and strengthen the muscles and joints that become weakened during prolonged sitting (abdominals, spine, shoulders, and glutes).
  3. SAANA Classic offers an opportunity to discover Yoga as a type of movement therapy to add to your overall wellness practice to help alleviate pain and stress stored in the body within community. Movement therapy done within community has a lasting impact on your ability to recover from any stress related pain. SAANA Classic is accessible and allows for people a way into the Yoga community and personal healing.

Please be sure to get clearance from a healthcare practitioner before starting yoga and if you have any work-related injuries to inform the instructor before class so that they can modify their sequence accordingly.  

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