Russell Seguin, Certified Clinical Rehabilitative Massage Specialist
Russell's personal Self-Help philosophy
Hydration: I try to drink at least a few ounces every hour. Healthy muscles are hydrated and "spongy", not like dried leather!
Sleep Posture: If you wake up sore, you've likely been in a bad position! Sleeping on your back maintains the most neutral posture (it took me 8 months of practice to finally be able to make it through 6 hours, but my shoulder, hip, and back pain went away!). Second best is to sleep on your side with a thin pillow under your side- try to straighten out towards a standing position as much as possible (see my Sleep Posture section).
Desk Posture: Try to sit up straight on your pelvic "sit" bones and not slouch, keeping your shoulders back an down. Make sure your monitor is directly in front of you and high enough so that your head can be in neutral posture. Adjust your chair so that your forearms rest comfortably, and learn to turn your hands sideways (pinky towards desk) when you are not typing or mousing (otherwise the extensors in your forearm stay contracted and can cause carpal tunnel-like symptoms). Get up frequently (every 20 min), even if only for 3 seconds. Also bend back with your hands overhead and take 3 deep breathes at least every hour or so.
Gentle Stretching: Maintaining flexibility is key to remaining pain free; you can always "get into shape" next year, but when you lose range of motion, it is hard to get it back without therapy. Being "flexible enough" is an individual thing; you need to have enough flexibility to do the things you normally do without a feeling of pain and tightness. There are lots of philosophies on stretching; I've found that if you have a problem, a slow easy stretch works best to release the muscle, stretching slightly into the point of tension and breathing deeply (relax on exhale). Every now and then, briefly release the stretch and then move back into it, hopefully to a slightly improved range of motion.
Self-Massage: The two techniques I often use on myself both come under the category of "myofascial release". Pressing into a sorest spot in the belly of a tight muscle and then stretching it back and forth (pin & move) is the fastest way I've seen to get a chronic muscle spasm to let go. Slow deep massage between muscles while moving the appropriate joint (fascial striping) is another good technique; when you slide your fingers around the outline of a muscle and feel a thickening or lump, it is often "glommed up" fascia that has developed through years of limited movement.
Braces & Orthodics: When you are injured, bracing can be an important part of re-hab. But to permanently rely on an external support weakens the primary and auxiliary muscles. In my experience, the long-term goal should always be to try and strengthen your body so that it can support the activities you want from it. Technology, while sometimes necessary, in the long term can rarely out-perform a properly-trained body.
Sensible workouts: Stay active! Low weights and high reps with natural, functional movements builds strength and tone while minimizing the chance of injury. More intense exercise can build larger muscles faster, but also increase the chance of injury if perfect form is not used. Injuries occur when you increase the stress on the body faster than its capability to adapt! If you do experience pain, rest and adapt your workout until you gain the strength to increase. "Working through" an injury (i.e., "work through the pain"), even when seemingly successful, can lead to compensation patterns that can eventually wear things out and cause problems years down the road.
Ice can be your friend! It is anti-inflammatory, deadens pain nerves, and promotes increased blood flow.