November 3rd is National Stress Awareness Day
By Dr. Frank J. Scerbo, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS ///
National Stress Awareness Day is a sponsored event by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), which is a registered charity promoting knowledge about stress, best practices for stress management, well-being, and performance that are recognized nationally and internationally as well.
Stress is something that all of us will experience at some point in our lives, whether it is from work or personal life. A small amount of stress can be useful. It can motivate you to take action and get tasks completed. It can also make you feel alive and excited. But chronic levels of stress can lead to detrimental effects on our bodies involving the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, and reproductive system.
Is important to understand that stress is your body’s natural reaction to help you deal with pressure or threats. This is sometimes called a “fight or flight” response (also known as the acute stress response). If stress gets overwhelming it can cause other mental health problems, emotional exhaustion, and physical illness and can impact work, relationships, families, and every aspect of life.
Luckily there are ways to reduce the effects of stress-related conditions. This National Stress Awareness Day we want you not only to learn about what can happen when our stress levels get too high but also how physical therapy can help with more than pain management; our physical therapists can offer techniques to assist in decreasing chronic stress levels and add balance back into the body.
How Physical Therapy can help improve chronic and stress-induced pain
Chronic stress, that is, failure to deal with it for a long time and remaining in a prolonged and constant feeling of stress can lead to life-threatening problems. From hypertension, heart diseases, decreased immunity, loss of sociability, and decreased mental vitality, stress is not to be taken lightly!
The good news is that physical therapy can help reduce pain from stress-related issues such as headaches and muscle tightness, neck, shoulder, and back pain among others. At Scerbo Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation our physical therapists can help you by:
• Reducing tension in the neck and back. Your physical therapist will start with a targeted stretching routine that will alleviate some of the tension that is most frequently held in the back, neck, and even the shoulders.
• Alleviating tension in the jaw. This is another common area to hold tension, your physical therapist will use targeted massage and other physical therapy techniques to reduce tension in the jaw, which can help to reduce headaches.
• Promoting muscle relaxation. Working with your physical therapist can provide you with the opportunity to understand muscle relaxation techniques, which can be helpful in the midst of a stressful situation. Learning how to relax muscles when your inclination is to constrict them means promoting airflow through the body and thereby promoting your ability to stay calm in the face of stress. This can further help support the reduction of tension headaches.
• Improving breathing patterns. Our breathing patterns can be controlled by a specific part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system. Changing our breathing patterns can help promote “rest and digest” aspects of our nervous system, and lessen the “fight or flight” response. This will help decrease overall stress in the body. Physical therapists can teach you these breathing techniques to create more balance within the nervous system, and decrease overall chronic levels of stress hormones within the body.
If you or anyone you know has concerns about stress and its effect on the brain and body contact us for more information on how our physical therapists can help assess your stress levels, reduce pain and improve your overall well-being.