Research shows that musculoskeletal pain levels can be directly influenced by stress, particularly with more chronic conditions such as low back pain. It does this in several ways:
Firstly, stress causes us to tighten our muscles, particularly in susceptible areas like the neck & shoulder blades. This increases strain & reduces the blood flow through the muscles causing increased aching & pain.
Secondly, stress causes our bodies to increase production of certain chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline & cortisol. These chemicals can aggravate sensitised nerve receptors in more chronic conditions. If these increased chemical levels are maintained for a prolonged period, it puts stress on many bodily systems by keeping the body in a state of "fight or flight" or heightened alert.
Relaxation is a very effective way of reducing the effects of stress. There are many different techniques & it is important to find the ones that work best for you. Relaxation is a skill, like learning to play the piano, & needs to be taught correctly & practised regularly. The more you practise the more effective it becomes & the more benefits you will feel.
Benefits of relaxation include:
- reduced pain (by reducing muscle tension & stress hormone levels)
- increased energy levels/reduced fatigue
- improved sleep
- improved immunity & resistance to illness
- feeling calmer, less anxious & can be helpful in managing panic attacks
- promotes endorphin release ( hormones produced by our own bodies that have powerful pain relieving & mood enhancing effects)
At Wareham Physiotherapy we are experienced in teaching these techniques & can help you to incorporate them into your daily routine in a way that could help you to feel real improvements in many aspects of your life. If you would like to explore some of these very powerful techniques, either individually or in small groups, then please contact us to discuss how we can develop an individualised programme tailored to best suit your needs & lifestyle.