The Straw That Broke The Seals Back

Pain is a funny thing if you can get past the fact that it hurts so much. There’s little predictability for it and its genesis can sometimes be a little wonky. For instance, it stands to reason that if you work out too much, you can expect areas in your body to be sore from fatigue. You don’t, however, expect to be sore in places for not working out enough.

That’s what happened to a nine year, recently retired, navy seal who came to see me a few months ago. He’d just been through a short program manager crash course and made a quick transition into the office professional life. His low back, neck and right shoulder were quick to respond to his new found profession by giving him some trouble.

Now, there’s nothing at all odd about office induced pains being birthed, but what was out of sorts was where I had to massage him to find relief. It was his hip flexors, abdominals and anterior neck muscles that were the culprits, which we didn’t come to until the third session. More often than not for desk desperados like this, low back, glute and shoulder muscles are the offenders but our first two sessions had disproven this to be the case.

When you think about it, he’d gone from significantly beyond normal human physical capability to sit-in-front-of-a-desk-finger-jockey in an instant. It’s reasonable to conclude that ‘unique’ would be a trait the source of this ex-seals tension would carry with such a drastic physical exertion shift.

As homework, I told him he needed to physically challenge his body more because it was screaming for greater activity than his keyboard was providing. It pains our body to make exorbitant changes to our physical output routine one way or the other. I also showed him some stretches and self-massage techniques that continued with what we'd accomplished in the session.

After a few more massages, his low back and neck pain had been resolved and his right shoulder was significantly better. I can never predict with certainty what muscles I need to target to turn the tide on a client's condition but half the fun is being challenged in the first place.