Making time for massages

February 21, 2008 5:14:02 PM PST
Well, most of us don't have an hour in our day for a massage, but taking 10 minutes to stretch can give you similar results. Scott Schwartz, the owner of Psoas Massage and Bodywork, shows us how this is possible.

Psoas Massage & Bodywork
333 Third Street, Suite 205
San Francisco, CA, 94107
Phone: (415) 227-0331
Web site:

Importance of Stretching:
Holding kids, gardening and even working at a desk places our bodies in positions that cause key muscles to be shortened. Muscles in a shortened position for elongated periods of time tend to stay shortened. Shortened muscles limit range of motion.

The combination of the shortened muscles found in desk workers is called Upper Cross Syndrome. It is very common in people who make their living working at computers.

Easily viewable symptoms of upper cross syndrome are:

  • Inwardly rotated and forward shoulders (or single shoulder) --- caused by the typing and mousing position. Pectoralis (chest) muscles get tight and pull shoulders forward and rotate shoulders inward.
  • Raised shoulders or shoulder. Caused by many reasons - often stress has us using our Trapezius muscles to elevate our shoulders (the shrug). More relevant to the desk set-up and poor ergonomics would be that the keyboard is too high and the Trapezius muscles try to adjust the elbows upwards, towards a perpendicular elbow to wrist angle.
  • Forward neck. Simply caused by a continued forward gaze - a low monitor could add to the problem. Laptops are particularly bad for this.
  • Backward tilting head on neck. To continually adjust to a forward neck. If the head is on the neck straight when you have a forward tilting neck you will be looking down - the backward tilting head adjusts for this. This condition is so prevalent in desk workers that trained bodyworkers can often tell a desk worker from people of other professions with a quick glance. Take a look around at your desk working friends see if these characteristics hold true. Take a look at yourself in a mirror if you work at a desk.

    The following stretches are good for the prevention of Upper Cross Syndrom. They may help sufferers of Upper Cross, however, bodywork is often needed to break the adhesions in the shortened muscles in order to restore proper function.

Trapezius stretch - side neck and shoulder muscles:

  • Stabilize shoulder down on right side by holding onto a chair or sitting on hand.
  • If standing, stabilize shoulder down by placing hand behind back and drawing fingers to the ground
  • Place left hand over head above right ear and gently flex neck to the left by bringing left ear to left shoulder.
  • Gently tuck chin to chest and rotate head to the right.

Sternocleidomastoid stretch - front of neck muscles:

  • Lie face up
  • Stabilize right shoulder by placing right hand under right buttocks.
  • Place left hand over head above right ear and gently flex neck to the left by bringing left ear to left shoulder.
  • Slowly and gently rotate head to the right. Suboccipital stretch - back of neck, just below skull:
  • Simply use hands to gently tuck head forward chin to chest.
  • Make sure the skull is moving forward in respect to the neck

Pectoralis stretch - chest muscles:
(these are large strong muscles - go slowly just till you feel a stretch than move deeper as the original stretch fades)

  • At doorway, exposed beam or wall, place right arm straight out to side and bend elbow to a 90 degree angle
  • Place that hand and elbow just inside wall, body even with wall.
  • Move right foot forward and turn torso to the left
  • Repeat the stretch continuing to find the slight stretch, letting it fade and then finding the stretch again. Use your breath.

The Pectoralis major is a large fan shaped muscle. In order to stretch its entirety, one must use three separate positions. The 90 degree angle is one but also move the elbow slightly upwards and downwards to stretch the entire muscle.

About Scott Schwartz:
Scott Schwartz, co-founder and co-owner of Psoas Massage and Bodywork, is dedicated to providing the finest quality massage and bodywork in San Francisco. If there is one thing he believes, it is that massage therapy can play a critical role in helping people get healthier and feel better in their bodies.

Scott has more than 1,000 hours of practical massage therapy training, primarily in sports massage and the alleviation of clinical issues. He is very proud to have studied at Body Therapy Center, a nationally known and respected school of massage therapy, where he trained under Bruce Richmond. His clinical bodywork expertise is deep and far-ranging; he has been trained in and regularly practices numerous forms of massage-often in combination-including sports, trigger point, orthopedic, clinical deep tissue, soft tissue release, myofascial release, Traeger, and proprioceptive stimulation. He is also certified in Active Release Technique (A.R.T.).

Scott's professional training is complemented by a deep-rooted understanding of anatomy and body mechanics acquired from a lifetime of playing sports and over a decade of intense yoga training. He has developed a strong reputation in the Bay Area for his ability to analyze postural problems, bodily tension, and muscle dysfunction, and for his skill at resolving the body problems that he finds. He is also committed to educating his clients in body pain prevention techniques. Scott's regular client list includes professional, elite and competitive athletes, professional dancers and "desk athletes. Among his favorite clients are those who have been to a physician, chiropractor, orthopedist, hand specialist, back specialist, etc.-and still can't find help.

Scott holds a degree in finance from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a Master's in Social Work from New York University. Prior to completing his massage therapy training, he was a practicing psychotherapist for six years, specializing in counseling the families of troubled teens. When he is not voraciously studying human anatomy, physical dysfunction, and its repair, he is playing golf, practicing yoga, or out enjoying life with his wife, daughter, and dog.