03 Jul HOW DOES STRESS CAUSE NECK AND SHOULDER PAIN
When you are stressed or anxious your muscles contract. This is an automatic reflex reaction. This is as a stress response more commonly known as “fight or flight” response. It is the body’s way of getting ready to face a perceived physical threat. Along with muscles tension, you may notice other physical symptoms when you are stressed. These include an accelerated heart rate, quick shallow breathing, sweating or cold skin.
Even though the body’s response to stress is there to help deal with physical threats, it reacts the same way when the threat is not physical. Your muscles can tense up when you are dealing with pressure from either work or at home.
If the stress is continuous the body may stay in that heightened state of readiness, leaving the muscles to stay tense and tight longer than is necessary.
According to studies, ongoing muscle tension can lead to serious ailments, like neck and shoulder pain. Stress can affect the neck and shoulders by causing you to clench and tighten the muscles in the neck, jaw and shoulders. Stress can also increase the tension in the trapezius muscles that runs across the top of the back, which can restrict the neck and shoulder movement. Stress can also heighten your perception of pain, which can make any existing pain feel worse than it is.
We will never be able to completely eliminate stress from our lives. There are healthy habits including neck and shoulder exercises that we can incorporate into our daily lives to help reduce the levels of emotional stress and the amount of pain experienced.
- Backwards, forwards and side tilt of the neck. This can be done while seated.
- Side rotation – with your back straight and shoulders square, gently rotate your head to the left until you feel and stretch in the neck and shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, slowly bring your head forward and repeat to the right side.
- Shoulder rolls – this is best done when standing. Raise your shoulders straight up and move them in a circular forward motion. Do this 6 times then repeat in backward circular motions.
- Across the chest stretch – keeping your left arm straight in front of you, place the palm of your right hand on the left elbow joint. Bring your left arm across your chest and hold the position for 60 seconds and repeat with the right arm being stretched across the chest.
- Chest expansions – while standing, hold an exercise band, strap or towel behind your back, with both hands. Broaden your chest by moving your shoulder blades towards each other. Lift your chin up and look towards the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 6 times.
- Seated twist – sit on a chair with your ankles directly beneath your knees, twist your upper body to the right and bring the back of your left hand to your thigh. Place your right hand wherever it is comfortable. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Tips to reduce stress:
- Eat a healthy andwell-balanced diet
- Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days per week
- Reduce caffeine, alcohol, and sugar intake
- Getenough sleep each night
- Avoid cigarettes and drugs
- Think positively and surround yourself with positive people
Here at OsteoVision we can help alleviate your neck pain through manipulation, massage and other musculoskeletal techniques designed to release restricted facets in the neck and improve muscular stability. We also use similar techniques to treat shoulder pain.
Our team of specialists are always available to assist you and offer advice. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your symptoms, have any questions, would like to book an appointment or require more information about your condition.
Beasley, E., 2020. How Stress Contributes to Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain. [online] Healthgrades. Available at: <https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/bones-joints-and-muscles/how-stress-contributes-to-chronic-neck-and-shoulder-pain> [Accessed 20 July 2021].
Cronkleton, E., 2019. Top 10 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain and Tightness. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/shoulder-pain-exercises> [Accessed 20 July 2021].
Lindberg, S., 2021. 5 Ways to Reduce Stress-Related Tension in Your Neck and Shoulders. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/tension-in-neck-and-shoulders-from-anxiety> [Accessed 20 July 2021].