Have you ever thought how stress might be affecting your posture?
To help me explain I need to talk a little bit on the purpose of stress, and to do that I need to create a scene…
The Purpose of Stress
Imagine that you are a cave dweller, thousands of years ago. Your main area of concern is basic survival, and your stress levels depend on whether you think you are going to get attacked by a sabre toothed tiger or not. Most of the time any tigers or similarly scary prehistoric creatures won’t be attacking you so your stress levels should be pretty low.
However, when you do encounter any such danger, your body needs a stress response to help you survive.
Your brain and body will immediately put you into “fight or flight” mode – basically preparing you to take on the tiger or get the hell out of there!
Blood is taken from your internal organs and pumped into the muscles of your limbs. Your body posture changes into a defensive stance – your shoulders raise up to protect your neck should the tiger try and take a swipe at you, your spine will curve forward to protect your trunk (and vital organs), muscles are coiled tight to prepare you for battle or to run for your life…
So you fight to the death (!) or you run faster than you’ve ever run before, hopefully to safety. Once you are safe again your stress levels will return to normal, until the next attack.
This is your body’s way of giving you the best shot of staying alive when you are in danger.
However, most of us thankfully don’t really come across these kinds of dangerous situations. What we experience nowadays is a low grade, never-goes-away sort of stress. It’s not severe enough for us to need to physically fight it or run away from it, so most of us just sit with it! This means your body never gets the information that the danger has gone, so it continues to take blood away from your limbs and keeps on making certain postural muscles tighter and tighter.
At Banchory Chiropractic Clinic we see many patients who are suffering with physical manifestations of emotional stress.
What signs of stress do we see in this picture? As chiropractors we assess posture, and the following postural changes are apparent:
- Tight muscles across the upper shoulders. These muscles are known as the “Upper Trapezius” muscles, and are often a factor in the development of headaches and neck pain.
- Note the location of the head – it is sitting in front of the rest of the body. This puts unnecessary physical stress through the neck and upper back, often causing discomfort, pain and in severe cases degeneration of the joints in the spine.
- The lower back is curved forward, and notice how the abdomen looks squashed. This puts massive postural stress through the lumbar spine, which causes discomfort and pain.
- Overall the body looks like it is in a protective mode – the shoulders raised up to protect the neck and the abdomen curved forward to protect vital organs! Imagine sitting like this all day!
So what’s my point? I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for the majority of you, stress can aggravate an existing physical problem, whether it is by changing your posture, or by decreasing how well your body functions. So it is important for you to know that you may experience even better results with your chiropractic care by taking steps to reduce your stress levels. Here are some of our top tips:
- Let It Go
If there is a major cause of stress in your life, you must find a way to get rid of it or accept it and move on. I know it’s not always that simple, but sometimes it is! Sometimes professional help is needed, and we have a guest blog post from our friend Anne HERE that might be of interest.
I nearly put this as number one, as exercising regularly is so important to ease stress levels. If there is a stressor in your life that you have no control over, remember that you need to let your body know that you’ve dealt with it by running away from it or fighting it! This doesn’t mean you have to run or have a fight; any sort of exercise will still have a positive impact.
Yoga is an excellent way of recharging mentally and becoming more mindful of your body. It is also known to reduce pain levels and increase flexibility, warding off any future injuries. We host 4 yoga classes every week here in the studio with the lovely Gillian from Muscle Flexology.
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress levels, with long term benefits if practiced regularly. If you don’t know where to start then there are some classes and resources locally. There are a few different choices at the Aberdeen Wellness Centre, see their timetable HERE. There is also a variety of mindfulness workshops for the whole family from Spirit and Soul Aberdeen.
We also have compiled 3 easy and quick exercises you can perform at home or at work to improve your posture and get your body out of stress mode! Find them HERE
Coincidentally BBC1 have just aired a programme all about how stress is damaging our health, calling stress one of the biggest health concerns of the 21st century!! Worth a watch…
We love to hear what you think of our blog articles and newsletter. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to cover. We can be contacted on 01330 824040 or email@example.com.