Physiotherapy and Stress: Understanding the Body’s Response to Stress and How Physiotherapy Can Help

Monday 24th April 2023


April is Stress Awareness Month, which is an important reminder for all of us to take a step back and assess our stress levels. Stress is a normal part of life and can be beneficial in certain situations, such as motivating us to meet a deadline or helping us to react quickly in an emergency. However, chronic stress can have negative effects on both our physical and mental health, including causing muscle tension and pain.

As physiotherapists, we understand the impact that stress can have on the body. When we experience stress, our bodies respond by releasing the hormone cortisol, which prepares us for the “fight or flight” response. This response involves an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate, as well as the tightening of muscles in the body.

Over time, chronic stress can lead to chronic muscle tension and pain, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back. This tension can also lead to headaches and migraines, as well as other physical symptoms such as digestive issues and weakened immune function.

Benefits of exercise and physiotherapy to help manage stress:
• Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood, as well as improve overall mental health.
• Exercise also has physical benefits that can help to reduce stress. It can reduce muscle tension and pain, improve sleep quality, and boost immune function.
• A physiotherapist can assess your posture and identify areas of tension in the body. They can also provide techniques to help you release tension and manage stress, such as breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and gentle stretches.
• Physiotherapy can help to improve your overall physical health, which can have a positive impact on your mental health and stress levels. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and a physiotherapist can help you to develop an exercise plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

Physiotherapy and exercise can be a great option for managing stress-related pain and improving overall physical health. As physiotherapists, we should also be aware of our own stress levels and prioritise self-care to ensure we can provide the best care for our patients.