Corporate Pain = Corporal Anguish

The lessons to be learned in life are often taught through avenues never traveled. As a physician of acupuncture, I often treat pain experienced by my patients from their work environment. Most often, these patients sit on a desk for hours at a time in conditions less than suitable for their body type. Also, the ergonomics of their station can revive old injuries or aggravate current ones.

My suggestions to alleviate these type of complaints has been to stretch a little, get up from the desk and take a little walk.. Well, as genuine as my suggestions have been in the past, I have learned from a recent experience of three months in the cubicle, that I was really talking out of my… well you know what I mean. I’ve given counsel without actually knowing in my own body the difficulties patients in the cubicle have to follow my advice.

My suggestions have been to take a few minutes every hour and stretch a little. Walk and practice deep breathing; rotate the neck, stretch the legs and then return to your desk rejuvenated and ready to work. Yet, the pain persists.

Now, while I still believe that the suggestions will help, the problem is that the disproportion of the signal to noise ratio in the cubicle is too high to be offset by a few minutes of stretching. I’ll explain:

The best way I know of explaining the Signal to Noise ratio principle is by way of analogy of an acoustic concert in the plaza. The musicians using acoustic instruments will only have so much sound power to reach the listeners who sit on the back seats.

If the audience is loud, chatty, and disrupting, the signal (the acoustic music) cannot be heard because of all the noise the audience creates.. In this case, the audience in the back have a low signal to noise ratio. To increase the signal the audience would need to quiet down or the musicians would need to increase their sound by playing louder or route their music into speakers.

Applying this to our bodies, the signal would be the stretching, good body posture, good ergonomics, and any other attribute that would make the cubicle a place conducive to comfort, long enough to offset the corporate noise such as working on a tight schedule, faulty equipment, loud co-workers, unhappy customers, low pay, travel distance, bad ergonomics, etc., etc..

Therefore, five minutes of stretching is not going to do the job. Besides a good mental disposition, I think that at least fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time twice per hour would be better than the stingy five minutes I used to suggest. Will the corporate powers that be allow this? Maybe.