Sore backs are often a reflection of how much stress we have in our life. It comes in many forms:
1. Incorrect diet, alcohol and drugs chemically stress the body
2. Our posture, repeated movements or heavy lifting physically stress the body
3. Having a heavy workload or working with difficult people emotionally stress the body
4. Doing too many things at once, or being overwhelmed with work mentally stress the body
There is healthy stress where you want to get things done, which is motivating (eustress) and bad stress, which provokes a negative response in the body (distress).
Distress has an affect on the adrenal glands and their associated hormones. If we have distress our “flight or fight” response is activated. This is necessary if you are being attacked by a wild animal or in a dangerous situation: increased breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity all enable us to react quickly and get to away to safety.
However these days we are triggered into stress by an angry customer or boss, making a mistake in our work or just having too much work to do. Instead of running, fighting or taking action (which uses up our stress hormones), we sit still! The hormones are left racing around our bodies with no place to go. Moving burns these chemicals off and the body is able to process them, but if we stay still they remain in our muscles and tissues in the form of chemicals which cause tension and pain. The muscles are then pre-stressed, especially the neck and back muscles. If we have repeated stress this tension builds up. Hypertension (permanently raised blood pressure) occurs leading to heart conditions and other diseases.
The good news is that there is a way out! Actually several ways out….
1. Having a healthy diet which contains nutrients that support our muscles and bones. This diet needs to be adjusted according to how much exercise we get. For example the muscles of an active person require more minerals and carbohydrates compared to someone who has a sedentary lifestyle.
2. Regular exercise - in different forms. This enables you to gently stretch the muscles that are too tight and tone the ones that are weak. Some people do walking and swimming, some do cycling and running, Some do gardening and swimming. Some play a sport and go to the gym. Or you could attend an exercise class that works specifically on the muscles. When you use two different types of exercise the muscles have a more balanced workout.
3. When you do have a stressful day, use an active form of exercise that gets the heart rate up and body moving to burn off the chemicals built up in the body (ready for the flight and flight).
4. Manage your stress levels. Explore and develop new skills for dealing with stress. Learn how to communicate when you are feeling stressed and how to say "no". Relaxation counteracts stress: When you relax your breath slows and deepens, your blood pressure goes down and the brain puts out chemicals which make your muscles relax. Develop a relaxation process through deep breathing, meditating, or using a relaxing visualisation technique.
Book onto my Care for your Back class which begins TODAY click here.
This information was copied and paraphrased from the following books:
Facilitated Stretching – R E McAtee and J Charland
Stretching and Flexibility – K Laughlin
Overcome Neck and Back Pain – K Laughlin
PilateSystem – T Blount and E McKenzie