Whether it be work-related, family-related, relationship-related, pandemic-related or something else entirely, stress is a product of modern day life that most of us face now and again.
However, when left unaddressed, stress can infiltrate everything we do, creating feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty and, ultimately, leaving our mental and physical health suffering as a result.
Therefore, finding effective methods to combat stress is imperative to keeping issues like anxiety and depression at bay.
Outlets like mindfulness, exercise and therapy can help a lot in this regard but, when combatting the physical side of stress, osteopathy is a great port of call.
A fantastic method of detecting, treating and preventing a wide range of health problems, osteopaths help relax the body by stretching, moving and massaging the key areas where they identify stress being held. But how exactly does this work?
In this article, we will take a detailed look at what stress is, what causes it and why osteopathy is such an effective method at combatting its effect.
What Causes Stress
As defined by the NHS, stress is ‘the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure’.
An incredibly common emotion, when handled in an effective manner, stress can actually help us achieve many things in our day-to-day life.
However, when left to build up over time, stress can negatively impact our mood, our body and our relationships, leaving us feeling anxious, irritable and affecting our self-esteem.
Its source can be caused by any number of things but, generally speaking, the biggest causes of stress are listed below:
- Lack of control
- Lack of work
- Overwhelming responsibilities
- Uncertain times
How Stress Affects The Body
As mentioned already, stress can affect the body in a number of ways, both in terms of our physical and mental health. Listed below are a few of the main ways stress can impact the body when left undealt with for long periods of time:
- Stress can trigger and intensify the feelings of tension headaches.
- Stress can make it harder to get good quality sleep, leading to feelings of irritability.
- Stress increases the production of stomach acid which can intensify feelings of heartburn.
- High Blood Pressure. Stress hormones raise your blood pressure, increasing your heart rate, damaging your arteries and raising the risk of heart attack.
- Sexual Issues. Since stress interferes with the reproductive system and lowers sex drive in both men and women, this can make it harder to conceive.
- Missed Periods. The hormone fluctuation caused by stress can interfere with the menstrual cycle, causing periods to be missed.
- Stomach Ache. Stress can play havoc on our body’s digestive system, leading to issues like stomach ache, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Tense Muscles. Stress makes muscles tense up which can then cause a wide range of physical issues, including backache and neck pain.
How Osteopathy Can Be Used To Combat Side Effects
Osteopathy is a holistic way of treating the body, encouraging the body to re-balance the fight-or-flight response caused by stress and make sure all bodily functions are aligned.
Using a series of massage, stretching and manipulation techniques, osteopathy helps identify various sources of pain in the body, relieving the affected areas, improving mobility and, ultimately, reducing any feelings of stress.
For hyperventilation issues caused by stress, such as headaches, shortness of breath and back pain, osteopathy looks to reduce tension in the muscles, using a variety of stretching techniques to open up the body and improve respiration.
Similarly, for any gastrointestinal issues caused by stress, osteopathy can help relax the muscles in the stomach, alleviating any tension that has built up over time to aid digestion and reduce the severity of pain caused by these problems.
Finally, the combination of specialist massage, stretching techniques and joint mobilisation can help improve blood flow, allowing the body to feel more relaxed, reducing tension in the muscles, and increasing levels of concentration and alertness.
Get In Touch
Here at The Westway Clinic, we have a broad range of skills and extensive experience treating many stress-induced injuries and issues. So, if you would like to find out more about osteopathy and the wide variety of benefits it can provide, please do not hesitate to contact our team at your earliest convenience.