Stress is a word that implies so many things for so many people. What is stressful to one can be a jubilation to another. An employee who has to do more work is stressed way more than an employer who does not mind work since it helps the business grow. A mother is joyful at the arrival of a baby, but is stressed by the demands of motherhood. When there is increased effort, it is stressful. The effort of learning to walk is a good stress to an excited toddler who is ready to explore. Our perception and our intention of an event ultimately drives us to stress or not stress.
Stress is not limited to the experiences we go through day to day. It is also a FORCE created inside our human tissues in response to a threat perceived either in our internal or external environment. Stress is an increase tone that our body assumes everyday to protect and survive. This tone is a bracing effect as the nervous system activates the fight-flight-freeze response system. A good example is an office worker having low back pain while finishing a report which has to be submitted in an hour. The person’s nervous system commands the back muscles to tighten up to stabilize the spine which allows the hands and fingers to perform work faster. The low back muscles, in a state of increased tone will stimulate the body’s energy sources and consume it to the brink of depletion. Muscle fatigue and strain ensue. Even after the work pressure is gone, the tension has now remained in the back and can potentially trigger a broken replay of pain sensations. If left untreated, the back tightness will start to create torques and twists to the rest of the body. And new pains come up in random places like the neck, knee or shoulder. The worker is then caught up in that constant self-replicating tone even when the threat has long been gone. If we don’t learn how to switch that tone off, an endless pain cycle develops and our health is being challenged leading to disease.
Survival means to protect and be protected. Increase tone in the tissues is our defense mechanism to survive. Yet, an energy system cannot sustain a demand for continuous tension or tone in the tissues. Something has to break- the body. If you truly want to survive, strive for balance.
Learn to understand the body and how it communicates to you. How can you handle a threat without going into tension? How can a mother avoid developing neck and low back pain as she attends to the endless work of the day?
Observing better posture, learning how to breathe diaphragmatically, better mindset and coping strategies can be very beneficial in keeping the tone from taking residence in your body. Mindfulness and meditation are very helpful as we go through our day. If you can’t seem to get rid of the nag, aches and pain that have developed, seeking physical therapy that focuses on hands-on approach can help alleviate the pain and reduce or abolish the tone.
Myofascial release and cranio-sacral therapy are effective tools used by a manual physical therapist. A physical therapist specializing in tension-related pains can also go in depth in teaching posture, self care strategies and exercises to foster independence in managing chronic persistent pains. The best advice is to seek help if you are not able to manage it on your own and let a physical therapy pain specialist guide you to the road of wellness and balance.
If you want the experts to figure you out, seek a bona fide back pain specialist in physical therapy. Inquire about our free 15 minute phone consultation with our expert physical therapist by calling (201)537-4888.