Being stressed, overworked or overtired are common experiences for people of today’s fast-paced world. You may find that when you are stressed, the symptoms manifest themselves physically and you begin to suffer from tightness and pain in the neck, shoulders and/or upper back. We know that stress can play a major role in causing discomfort and fatigue in our muscles and body, but many of us don’t know why it causes pain and don’t seek relief when in fact they could.
What causes stress? The fight-or-flight response
Every one of us has experienced the results of our fight-or-flight response at some point in their lives. It is our natural response to dangerous or stressful situations, where our bodies immediately make use of resources to escape or deal with the situation.
- The response is controlled by our central nervous systems, springing us into physical activity
- The body makes changes via our hormones – the effects of the response are illustrated below:
The fight-or-flight response was intended for short-lived, life-threatening situations. However in modern-day life we experience the response in everyday stressful situations, often on a prolonged basis.
The symptoms of chronic stress
Stress produces the hormone Cortisol, which can stifle the immune and inflammatory responses. Severe emotional stress or prolonged stress will cause imbalances in the hormones and the body’s systems, leading to exhaustion or problems such as hypertension, asthma, IBS and depression. However for many of us it can create tension and pain in the muscles. If you suffer from tension headaches, disturbed sleep or fatigue, or a tightness in the upper back and chest, you may want to consider having osteopathy to help relieve these symptoms. Over a prolonged time these problems could produce an increased heart rate, bad posture or even exacerbate muscle or joint problems you have previously had.
How osteopathy tackles stress
Osteopathy is a holistic way of treating the body, making sure that all body functions are aligned. It is a healthcare practice which uses a series of massage, stretching and manipulation techniques to help identify the source of pain and relieve the affected area, improve mobility and reduce any swelling.
Osteopathy is a safe, gentle approach to dealing with the common painful manifestations of stress:
|Muscle pain from a build-up of lactic acid or waste products and blood not being about to fully penetrate tighter muscles.||Massage and stretching techniques can help to alleviate tension and reduce tightness.|
|Hyperventilation due to a decreased level of carbon dioxide in the blood. Shortened breath can cause dizziness or headaches, as well as a fatigue and tightness in the chest and back muscles.||Osteopathy looks to reduce tension in the muscles, but rib-stretching techniques can also open up and relax movement to improve respiration.|
|Stress creates a drain on the body’s energy, causing muscle fatigue, a lowered immune system and tiredness.||Using our hands to massage the body many patients find osteopathy calming and that it can reduce stress levels by relaxing you.|
|Stress may also lead to a tightening of the muscles which line the gut, restricting proper digestion. Problems such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, or IBS may result.||As osteopathy relaxes the muscles and alleviates tension, people find that it can aid digestion and reduce these problems.|
By helping to improve the symptoms of stress osteopathy can help you feel more in control and create a better sense of wellbeing for you. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of stress or you’d like to discuss how osteopathy could benefit you, we’d love to chat. You can read more about our services on our website or call us on 0121 705 4499 and take the steps to tackle stress today.