Therapist Spotlight Peter Wikstroem

The power is in the prevention

When Joey*, a very busy family man, came to see me first he was suffering from a lot of tension in the neck and shoulders which occasionally caused very bad tension headaches. During our first session I worked to loosen a couple of tight, painful areas (‘knots’) in his trapezius and rhomboid muscles, and afterwards the headache that Joey had come in with had eased off.

We also identified that he had a pretty bad posture, primarily because of two things. The rhomboid muscles (located between the spine and shoulder blade) were not as strong as the pectoral (chest) muscles which were then pulling his shoulders forward into a rounded posture.  Secondly, his hip flexors were very tight, causing the pelvis to tilt forward and making the lower back muscles work extra hard as a result. There are many reasons for bad posture, but the most probable cause in Joey’s case was slouching in front of a computer during his long work days.

During the next couple of sessions the focus was on reducing the chronic muscle tension in Joey’s shoulder muscles using massage techniques to soften, loosen and lengthen the muscle fibres, and improve circulation to and from the area.  Extra pressure was applied to the areas of bunched, ‘knotty’ fibres, to encourage them to release.  We also worked on balancing the body by opening up the chest to give the muscles in the back more space to move, and at home Joey was doing a simple exercise to strengthen the area between his shoulder blades as well as stretching the pectoral and hip flexor muscles.

After 4-5 sessions (about 2 months’ time total) Joey said he was no longer getting the bad headaches and was also starting to become aware of how his muscles were affected by how he was sitting at work.  Most importantly,  he now tries to take a couple of short breaks throughout the working day so as not to get stuck in the same static position for hours which is really bad for the muscles since they get less energy that way and chronic muscle tension will build up more easily.

I now see Joey about once a month which keeps his muscle tension under control and the soft tissues healthy – the chronic bunching and hardening of the muscle fibres is prevented, which means that major ‘knots’ don’t get the chance to form, thus helping him live a more pain free life.

*The client’s name has been changed