Avoid Desktop Stress: Therapeutic Techniques with Holden J. Zalma

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Holden J. Zalma, founder of A Touch of Magic Therapeutic Massage, will be discussing the use of massage as a way to relieve stress.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD. Today we will be discussing "Avoid Desktop Stress: Therapeutic Techniques" with Holden J. Zalma

Holden Jay Zalma, owner and founder of A Touch of Magic Therapeutic Massage, has been practicing the art of massage for the last eight years. He started his career at the University of Southern California with his undergraduate education in physical therapy and psychology. During his first year at USC, Holden acquired a position as an assistant athletic trainer for the USC Athletic Department. After four years assisting with the football, swimming, and volleyball teams, Holden opened his own massage business. He has expanded his offices in Culver City, California.

Holden, welcome to WebMD Live.

Zalma: Thank you.

Moderator: What is desktop stress?

Zalma: Desktop stress is the stress that is accumulated by today's work environment, which is sitting at a computer all day. People, when they're sitting at a desk all day in the same position with their fingers at the keyboard, have the tendency to lock up, it's not a natural position.

Zalma: We're meant to be hunting and gathering. A combination of things happen starting with the neck and back and moving on to the arms and hands, with the muscles and ligaments fatiguing over time by being in that same position, and that's what we try to get rid of.

Moderator: What does "desktop stress" put us in danger of? Everything from arthritis to carpal tunnel to neck and back problems, and not to mention atrophy. Most people have a tendency to move after work, but those who sit at a desk all day run the risk of their muscles getting smaller and weaker.

Moderator: How about mentally? Staring at a computer all day has to do something to our heads, too.

Zalma: Well, humans are social beings. A lot of work places now are so forced on the computer and not as much into human contact, that our brains get tired and there's no outlet for ... It just turns into mental fatigue. A lot of offices I go to, people would rather email others, cutting out just the verbal contact and that takes its toll on people. You'd be surprised how much people get excited when they have a room with a window, cause they're getting away from the everyday grind of sitting at a screen, because they are sitting in a room with natural light and that's exciting for them.

Moderator: What techniques do you advise to relieve stress in the office?

Zalma: Breathing! (laughs) Start with that. One of the good techniques is getting up once in a while. People have a tendency to sit at their desks all day and get caught up. One of the things I recommend is that every fifteen minutes or so, get up and get a glass of water, anything that gets the blood moving. Stretch, do hand stretches, roll your neck around, scrunch your muscles up. If muscles are stiff for a long time, they're more opt to reject you. So, do things that will get you moving and away from sitting at a computer all day.

Moderator: What different types of massages exist?

Zalma: Everything from Swedish, which is pretty commonly used by most therapists, more of a kneading motion, like a piece of dough or bread, that's more general. You go over the full body with that, you won't get a lot of therapeutic value. There's shiatsu, taking pressure points and putting them into patterns, it's part of the old Chinese medicine, hitting certain points to bring your energy source back into line. There's acupressure, individual points in the body .... a point on your hand can help headaches, or a point on the ankle can help liver function ... same idea as acupuncture. There's another that I use a lot called myofascial release which uses connective tissue instead of muscles and ligaments. The connective tissue surrounds everything, so it surrounds all your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and holds them all together. So, if you injure that, you're injuring everything that it's surrounding.So, if you get a bruise on your leg or a tear or pull, you're not only damaging the muscle, but the tissue that's holding it. So, we unravel it and take out the scar, it sounds painful, but it's no more than a deep stretch with long-lasting results. Sometimes you get a massage but by the time you get to your car, it's gone. We try to make it longer lasting. There's reflexology based in the hands, feet and ears, again points that relate to organs, systems and glands. You can stimulate these things by points on the feet and hands (organs) .. and that's the theory of this. That covers the most basic techniques.

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