Becoming a Better Developer Part 11: Get a Massage (and Get Your Boss to Pay For it)

This is part of an ongoing series centered on becoming a better software developer. For other posts in the series, see the Becoming a Better Developer heading in the right navigation.

Last Valentine’s Day my wife gave me a gift certificate for a massage. Nearly a year later (obviously a busy one) I finally redeemed it, and had the most productive day I’ve had in a while.

I’m a pretty healthy guy with no medical conditions or injuries, and I only occasionally eat my weight in carne asada. But I have aches and pains just like anyone else who sites in front of a computer all day.

My massage therapist (whom I mistakenly called a masseuse…oops!) gave me quite an education while I was there. She began by asking about my breathing; most people with desk jobs tend to have very shallow breathing while seated. She drew my attention to my breathing as she worked on my neck, chest, rib cage and, oh yes, the back! Anyone out there with neck aches? Rounded shoulders? Pain in wrists & forearms? Yeah, I thought so. You can have the best ergonomic workstation in the world, but our bodies need care to compensate for endless hours in a chair. Massage with an eye towards specific work in these problems areas can go a long way towards longevity in this field.

She also told me that massage lowers blood pressure, enhances alertness, increases speed and accuracy on math computations, and lowers anxiety (source).

So not only are you improving your work output, you’re also improving your health and, in the long run, working towards longevity in your career. Given this information how hard would it be to convince your boss that getting a massage is a fabulous way to celebrate a project milestone?

If you’re interested, the best places to find a massage therapist in your area are www.amtamassage.org and www.ncbtmb.com. A therapist trained in deep tissue or even sports massage might provide you with valuable expertise since we use a lot of repetitive motions. There are also therapists trained in Structural Integration who have an eye towards improving optimal structure and alignment.

One other thing she added is that massage alone won’t keep you in this business for the long haul. Other related lifesytle choices that contribute to longevity, physically speaking, include: balancing sedentary work with active exercise, eating healthy foods, taking breaks during work to look up and give your eyes a rest, and honoring your body when it complains about being in the chair too long. But you probably already knew that.

Bottom line: the massage was amazing and I highly recommend it. If you take the plunge, post a comment and let me know how it goes.

[tags]programming, massage[/tags]

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4 comments ↓

#1 http:// on 06.25.07 at 6:22 pm

Hey Rob – I really like this! Something every employee that works hours on end at a computer should know. :-) I hope things are going well on the East Coast!

#2 http:// on 06.28.07 at 3:27 am

Massage does all that? Impressive.

#3 http:// on 06.28.07 at 8:57 pm

try exercising. i hear that works too.

#4 Helen on 07.06.07 at 4:52 pm

I went to a software conference in Germany last year where they actually hired a person to give free massages throughout the whole day. The line was always massive and it made a nice change from sitting around and eating conference junk food. :)