We all live fast paced lives and no matter how strong we think we are, the difficulties we consistently encounter can take their toll on both the mind and the body. We explore how stress affects the body as well as some solutions on how to alleviate tension.
It is important to clarify the various forms of stress and how they affect our bodies.
Physical stress is placed on the body by weight bearing activities, such as lifting gym weights or heavy objects. When done properly, this can promote strength building. If you place more stress than you can handle on your body, as many people do in sporting activities, we can strain or tear ligaments which will take time to recover.
Emotional stress is similar. A busy schedule can be both satisfying if we are accomplishing goals and helping those around us, but it can also become extremely overwhelming if we consistently fail. This can be applied to our relationships and passion projects as well.
Regardless, as pressure builds, our bodies have to find a way to react.
Within our intestinal system (also known as our gut), our bodies hold a great deal of bacteria and other organisms, known as gut microbiota. When we encounter external stresses, such as sleep disturbance, psychological distress and physical activity, the composition of gut microbiota can be altered, affecting how we digest foods, produce vitamins, maintain our immune systems, and more.
Stressors can also bring immense discomfort to your muscles. Intensive bouts of exercise, for example, like that undertaken by athletes, can overwork the muscle. This creates tension and promotes inflammation. Headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders and trapezius muscles can also be experienced due to psychological stress. These muscles spread and connect right through the upper torso, across the shoulder blades, collar bones, our spine and the base of our skull. When we experience stress, we tend to tense and contract these muscles and without the head moving from a consistent position, you can develop poor posture, trigger tension headaches or knots within muscles that are working ‘too hard’.
Utilising our understanding of exercise science, we can assist with relieving pain and tension, developing programs to work through injuries and offer opportunities to discuss stressors. We believe this multi-pronged form of treatment offers our patients the best opportunity to work towards better management of stress-induced pain or injury.