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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jill King

Stress and Physical Pain

It's no secret that we are all feeling more stress than normal. The current state of our world may be causing a lot of discomfort and uncertainty.

You may have learned to hold stress inside your body when faced with a stressful situation. When we are stressed, we tend to experience a flight or flight response. Our muscles become tense so that we are prepared in stressful situations. These reactions fall under the micro-trauma category.

You can experience less obvious physical and emotional or “micro-traumas” over the years that go unrealized over the course of your life.

Your daily physical and postural habits have a huge impact not only in how your body feels from day to day, but in how well it recovers from pain or injury. Stress can literally feel like a weight sitting on your shoulders. Combine that with a day spent working on a computer, watching TV, and staring down at your phone, and you have a recipe for Forward Head Syndrome. The head is very heavy and when it is positioned more forward, like in people who are stressed, that has an effect on the body all the way down.

There is more strain on the shoulders, neck, and even the lower back. Our posture also affects the way that we breathe. If we are stressed and hunched forward, we may be taking shallow and inefficient breaths. The brain and body does not get as much oxygen when we are in this posture, making the feeling of stress worse.

Posture is the window into your spine.  The spine has a powerful relationship with the brain, spinal cord, and overall organ function.  This intimate connection means that bad posture and spinal health will lead to an overall decrease in brain and organ function.

The great news is that our body is designed to heal. Your chiropractor and you are the team you need to heal the body and train it to hold proper posture. Besides scheduling an appt with your chiropractor, here are a few exercises that may help relieve pain:

Repeat these exercises two to three times a day.

  • Scapular Pinch: Sit with your back straight and your arms to your side. Put the bands around the middle of your feet. Arms should be at a fully extended. Slowly move your arms backwards so your shoulder blades squeeze together. Return to starting position.

  • Chin Tuck: Chin tucks can be performed while standing or sitting. Sit upright and look straight ahead with the ears directly over the shoulders. Place a finger on the chin. Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck. (There should now be some separation between the chin and finger.) Hold for 5 seconds if possible. Bring the chin forward again to the finger. Repeat for a total of 10 times, or as tolerated.

  • Field Goal Stretch: Put your arms up in a field goal position. Stand near a door way and lean in to the door frame with your arms being stretched against the door way. You can do one arm at a time, as shown in the picture.

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