Exam Stress and Osteopathy

Exam Stress and Osteopathy

Exam stress is common among many students, especially those studying in secondary school and college. Stress causes our bodies to produce certain hormones which trigger the body’s ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response mechanism. This is the body’s normal response to stress, where adrenaline and cortisol are released from the adrenal glands. These hormones are necessary to help us react appropriately when we are feeling upset or threatened, allowing energy to be diverted to the essential ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ organs; namely the heart, brain and muscles. This response helps us to run away from the threat, stay and fight, or simply to stay aware and alert. When this stress response becomes excessive or constant, it becomes detrimental to the body.

Common signs of exam stress include headaches, backaches, muscle tension, insomnia and loss of appetite. Additionally, carrying heavy bags or books, bad seating posture and lack of exercise, can further exacerbate study and exam stress. During exam season, teenagers and young adults often come to the clinic with ‘tension-type’ problems across their shoulder girdle, upper back and necks, as well as fatigue, headaches and backaches. These problems can be caused by studying for prolonged periods and sitting hunched over a laptop.

What can you do?

  • Take regular breaks between study periods.
  • Set a timer to allow for intense study periods with short breaks in between.
  • Eat nutritious food that provides you with energy.
  • Stay hydrated and try to avoid caffeine.
  • Try to get moving and keep exercising; walking outside in fresh air will aid your studying and help you concentrate better.


How can osteopathy help?

Here at Osteovision, our team is highly trained and specialised in treating patients of all ages. Gentle osteopathic treatment can help relieve pain and stress experienced by students, especially during exam season. We will also advise how to position computers and laptops to reduce postural strain. Before beginning treatment, we will undertake a thorough biomechanical assessment of all patients to ensure nothing else is contributing to the symptoms.

The treatment plan will involve a mix of the following:

  • Exercises such as stretches or gentle resistance work to help manage symptoms between and after osteopathic treatment.
  • Posture and ergonomics advice. Helping patients avoid poor posture that causes stress and pain, will prevent and avoid long-term treatment programmes.
  • Osteopathic massages that include light and deep strokes, rubbing and kneading, as well as stretching techniques; are used to relieve tension from soft tissues, muscles and joints.
  • Traction is used to help ease stress and tension by gently lifting and pulling parts of your body, usually the head, arms and legs.
  • Counterstrain, where the osteopath positions your joints and muscles, is used to ease muscle spasms.
  • Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is a form of advanced stretching used to improve and restore range of motion.
  • Joint manipulation involves your osteopath gently moving joints in your body that may be causing pain or limiting movement due to being out of alignment.
  • Cranial osteopathy is a more gentle technique which is used to relieve pain and stress in younger patients, or patients recovering from severe injuries and accidents.


Each patient’s treatment plan is unique and specific, and will depend on your diagnosis, age, and fitness level. Contact us to discuss your symptoms, and a member of our team will be there to assist you.

Call:     03303  904 300
Email:  info@osteovision.life
You can also book an appointment online at www.osteovision.life


Foods to Help with Exam Stress – Oak Park Clinic: Crondall, Farnham, Surrey: Osteopathy and complementary health, (2019). Available at: https://www.oakparkclinic.co.uk/foods-to-help-with-exam-stress/#more-189

Muscle Energy Technique, Physiopedia, (no date). Available at: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Muscle_Energy_Technique

Exam stress, Queensland GovernmentThe State of Queensland, (2022). Available at: https://www.qld.gov.au/youth/looking-after-your-mental-health/managing-your-thoughts/exam-stress

What is Cranial Osteopathy? – Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy, (2022). Available at: https://scco.ac/osteopathy/what-is-cranial-osteopathy/