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Sedentary office based work combined with stress poses a high-risk factor for developing chronic pain. We are under increasing pressure in the workplace where goals and targets are often put before wellbeing. When a person’s work is target driven it’s common for their awareness to be with the goal rather than the process. If people aren’t meeting their targets they often push themselves, working harder and at a faster pace. In this process you can often lose touch with how your body is feeling. Many of my clients find that they’ve been running on adrenaline in a pattern of continuous hard work with little rest. With this amount of stress the nervous system becomes sensitive and muscles tense, making the body more vulnerable to pain. Many people get stuck in a cycle where pain in the workplace compromises performance leading to more stress, fear of job security and ongoing discomfort. Physiotherapy can give you the tools to bring relaxation into your body on a daily basis, allowing you to continue working whilst maintaining an increased awareness of tension and how to control it. How can I control tension? If you feel pain, let this be a kind reminder to put yourself first and job second. A really easy way to reduce tension is through simple relaxation exercises. Try taking a soft breath in followed by a soft elongated breath out through the nose whilst feeling your body melt and relax. You can focus this on specific areas of your body such as the neck and shoulders. Build this into a pattern that suits your working day, perhaps during your break, when you’re getting a drink or by using a reminder ‘bell’ app on your computer. Many of my clients have been amazed by this simple technique that when used regularly can have such dramatic effects. This article was written by Michael Otto BSc MCSP "I am a physio based in Exeter and Totnes with an interest in chronic pain. I have a holistic approach that draws on many approaches one of which is the use of mindfulness based relaxation in the workplace." Michael Otto Chartered Physiotherapist www.ottophysio.co.uk