How Does Stress And Anxiety Cause Tension In Your Neck And Shoulders
When you experience a stressful event or a bout of anxiety, your muscles contract, sometimes forcefully. This is an automatic or reflex reaction. Its known as a stress response or fight or flight response.
Its your bodys way of gearing up to face a perceived physical threat that youll need to fight off or run away from. Along with muscle tension, you may also notice other physical symptoms when youre stressed or anxious, such as:
- a fast heart rate
- cold skin
Although your bodys stress response is designed to help you deal with physical threats, your body responds in the same way when the threat isnt physical. Your muscles may tighten up when youre stuck in traffic, dealing with pressure at work, or watching the news.
According to the American Psychological Association , your muscles and other organs may only relax again once the perceived threat has passed.
If stress is ongoing meaning the stressful situation doesnt seem to have a clear end your body may stay in a heightened state of readiness to face a threat. As a result, your muscles may stay tense and tight for much longer than they need to.
According to the APA, ongoing muscle tension in your neck and shoulders can lead to more serious issues like back and shoulder pain, body aches, and migraine and tension headaches.
For Those Who Dont Like To Look Up
Often we suddenly look up, thereby increasing the over-curvature of the cervical vertebrae even more and begin to look like a vulture. Worse than being unsightly, a partly self-strangulated neck cuts off regular blood supply to the brain. A brain, hungry for blood containing oxygen and energy coming from the heart cannot think properly. Finding it difficult to look up also affects ones mood, morale, and attitude. Someone who can only look down is a negative person.
Correct head alignment when looking straight ahead and when looking up.
Exercise #: Door Frame Chest Stretch
This exercise is great for opening up the chest and providing extra mobility through that area. Place your forearms on either side of the doorframe, bent at 90 degrees at shoulder level. Slowly lean or gently lunge forward, allowing the weight of your body to yield a stretch through your chest and the front of the shoulder. Hold the end position for up to 30 seconds and repeat as needed.
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Exercises To Eliminate Shoulder Tension
That shoulder and neck pain that creeps up, and then just seems to stick around it almost feels like a new part of life that we should just accept, doesnt it? We may crack jokes about getting older and not feeling as spry as we once did when we were younger, but the shoulder tension that sets in is in fact extremely bothersome, and could even lead to longer-term repercussions if were not careful.
The truth is that its easy for shoulder and neck pain to sneak upon us. From working a desk job to driving long commutes, carrying heavy bags to dealing with stress, many of us end up carrying more tension in our shoulders than we realizeevery single day. Unsurprisingly, when we begin to layer this tension day upon day and week upon week with no real release, our bodies begin to rebel. While some of the factors contributing to neck pain may be hard to eliminate, the good news is there are simple, effective methods to counteract the repetitive daily stress. In this post, we share some of the best at-home exercises to employ as a means to combat, and eventually banish, shoulder tension for good.
The Linkage Between Stress And Human Body
Muscle tensions can be in several forms like pain, stiffness, tightened feeling, etc. Let us analyze it more deeply by understanding the connection between these two and how stress affects the neck and shoulder. The mechanism of stress can be explained in a way that the muscles of the human body respond according to the degree of the stress, i.e., the body muscles contract when a person is under great stress or anxiety. A person has no control over the body when it reacts this way as it is the autonomous action of the body. Mental anxiety and stress affect the body muscles, and in the majority of cases, the human spine is adversely affected, which gives rise to tension in the shoulder and neck. Aching neck and painful shoulder can lead to extreme irritation as well as fatigue in the human body.
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A Deep Tissue Massager For Times When Your Shoulders Hurt So Much You Shout Shoot This Thing Is Made For Blasting Away Those Nasty Knots
Promising review: “Im so happy that I purchased this. I have been missing my chiropractic and massage appointments due to COVID-19 and Im having pain in my neck and shoulders and lower back. Ive been using this massage gun every day for the past week and it has drastically improved my movement by working out the knots and massaging my muscles. I loved it so much I told my friends and coworkers and they are purchasing one as well.”
Get it from Amazon for $109.99.
Whenever I Have A Knot In My Shoulder I Follow My Pt’s 2
Whether it’s from an intense day of strength training or from stress , I’ll often wake up with a painful, piercing knot in my upper back. Or sometimes it’s lower, between my shoulder blade and spine you know the spot! The pain can radiate up my neck, which makes it hard to turn my head to the side. My PT has been able to work it out with dry needling, but I obviously can’t run to her every time I’m hurting. Here’s the two-step remedy she’s recommended I use at home to alleviate that sore and sensitive spot.
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A Vibrating Posture Corrector That’ll Act As A Reminder To Lift Yourself Back Up Whenever You Start Slouching Easing Tension In Your Shoulders And Helping To Prevent Poor Posture From Becoming Permanent
Promising review: “This device has been life-changing for me! I am in good shape but after 10 years of sitting at a desk 10+ hours a day my posture had deteriorated to a point where it was causing me a lot of pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. It had become second nature for me to always slouch and I had zero awareness of when I slouched except when I would see a picture of myself. Bad posture isnt always due to a lack of strength and physicality but a lack of awareness. For me, it was a bad habit formed over many years. This device truly helped me to kick my bad posture habit. I keep this device in training mode all day because it reminds with a little vibration to straighten up every time I slouch. This is exactly what I needed! The first day I wore this device I was surprised to learn how often I was slouching and I admit it was really hard to maintain good posture all day. With time it has become easier and I am now more self-aware. I am proud to say my posture has significantly improved with this device. The app is super cool and intuitive this is just a well-thought-out product. This device is fantastic, I highly recommend it.” Chris
Get it from Amazon for $99.99.
Holistic Medical Practitioners Can Help Relieve Muscle Stress
You might also want to consider visiting other holistic medical practitioners to assist you with getting rid of your stress. For instance, a chiropractor might be an excellent addition to your selection of professionals.
These Men and Women have studied the human body extensively and have the tools and techniques to help restore proper energy flow. Consider scheduling your chiropractic visits in conjunction with your massages so that you can maximize the effects of your professional treatments.
Another option that you might find beneficial is to visit an acupuncture or acupressure specialist who will be able to help you get rid of the pain and restore energy flow as well.
Whether you choose to use one or all of these professionals to help get rid of the stress that you are carrying around in your neck and shoulders, you will appreciate the fantastic relief that you feel once you have treatment protocol implemented and under way.
Although the first sessions will only provide a temporary relief, subsequent ones will be even better. Over time with more and more stress relieving therapies, you can reverse the pain that you have been feeling for ages.
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Stretches For Neck And Shoulder Pain
Massage, yoga, and rotator cuff physical therapy are all great ways to improve proper body mechanics and relieve unwanted neck and shoulder tension. In addition, we like to suggest doing a few stretches to see if you can get your shoulders and neck muscles to relax a bit. Here are a few simple, yet effective stretches you can incorporate throughout your day.
Adjust The Height Of Your Computer Screen
Whether your dining room table has become your new “office” or you are on the couch with your laptop, there’s a good chance your posture is taking the hit, says Rebecca Brown, a physical therapist.
“Due to the height of the laptop, laptop users often sit with rounded shoulders and a downward tilted chin, which is not ergonomically sound,” she says. “To keep your shoulders expanded and neck elongated, I recommend subbing your laptop screen for a computer monitor that can be positioned at eye level, which will encourage an upright sitting posture.”
You can also try propping your laptop on top of a stack of books to achieve a more posture-friendly position.
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Can Stress Cause Neck Pain And Tension In The Shoulders
When we experience high levels of anxiety or stress, our bodys natural reaction is to tense up. When this happens consistently over a long period of time, it can lead to muscle tension, which can cause stiffness, tightness, aching, and pain in your neck and shoulders. Stress-related pain in this region is typically the result of emotional or mental anxiety, which can directly affect the muscles and nerves that run through your shoulders, neck, and spine.
Aside from psychological and emotional stress, other issues that lead to feeling the physical symptoms of sore shoulders are overuse, poor posture, long periods of sitting, incorrect or poor sleeping positions, and of course, cases of injury.
A Shoulder Relief Pillow Because Sleeping On Your Side Puts A Ton Of Your Body Weight Onto Your Shoulder Causing Pressure That Builds Up And Aches This’ll Encourage Proper Sleep Posture And Finally Give Your Body A Break If Your Side Sleeping Has Been A Real Weight On Your Shoulders
Promising review: “As a dedicated side-sleeper I have purchased dozens of pillows in search of something that would alleviate my chronic neck and shoulder pain. It was hard to commit to the hefty price of this system knowing it might end up in the pillow graveyard with all the rest but this time was different! I found it immediately comfortable and was able to replace my cobbled together system of 4-5 pillows with this behemoth. It is both supportive and forgiving and keeps me from waking with every turn. Im 5-foot-4 and find the wedge is a little long for my height but I am still comfortable even when I slide down in the night. The body pillow is long enough and heavy enough to support me and even allows me to spend some time asleep on my back which has been almost impossible for me until now. This is worth the price for shoulder relief. ” Robert M. Bednar
Get it from Amazon for $279.99.
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How Stress Adds To Neck And Shoulder Pain
The body is wired to handle small spurts of stress. In small doses, stress can help an individual accomplish tasks, steer clear of danger, dodge a cold and experience improved cognitive function. According to an article by Time, eustress or positive stress can also help enhance motivation, build resiliency, encourage growth and promote bonding. In itself, stress isnt all that bad what makes it detrimental to the body is length and frequency. When you are constantly exposed to physical and emotional stress, your body would be in continuous fight or flight mode, which can lead to chronic pain in multiple parts of the body such as the neck and the shoulders.
So how does stress contribute to neck and shoulder pain? Since stress is just as much of a physiological phenomenon as it is a psychological phenomenon, the body functions differently when under stress. For instance, the blood vessels in your large muscles dilate to allow faster oxygen delivery. Muscles along the neck, by the jaw, around the shoulders and at the top of the back tighten and clench, thereby restricting movement. A recent study also mentioned that chronic stress activates certain parts of the body, such as the nervous system, longer than they should be. Persistently stressed nerves and muscles not only amplify even the slightest pain. They also cause pain that is far more difficult to manage since it is not rooted from a single tangible cause.
Got Aches & Pains 6 Ways To Relieve Tight Shoulder & Neck Muscles
Our shoulders often bear the weight of the worldour own little world, at least.
Shoulder and neck muscles are often the first casualties of stress and tension. There are a lot of different reasons for this, one being that the shoulder joint itself is complex. Without getting too bogged down in anatomy , here are six simple ways that can help relieve tension from both the shoulders and neck.
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A Cervical Support Neck Brace Designed To Decrease Neck And Shoulder Pain By Increasing Your Circulation Helping You *truly* Keep Your Chin Up Even When Aches And Pains Have Had You Feeling Down
Promising review: “This is the greatest little neck brace!! It provides gentle support and also warmth. It’s great for those times when your neck and shoulders are so tired you don’t know what to do and the day is far from done. I am 74 years old and wish I had had this 30 years ago.” K. Hudson
Get it from Amazon for $20.88.
How Stress Increases Neck And Shoulder Pain
Stress isnt always the cause of neck and , but it can certainly make even the smallest existing pain much worse. Heres how it affects your neck and shoulders.
Enlarges the blood vessels in your large muscle groups to allow faster oxygen delivery
Causes you to clench and tighten muscles in the neck, jaw and shoulders
Increases tension in the trapezius muscles that run across the top of the back
Restricts neck and shoulder movement
Heightens your perception of pain and makes existing pain feel worse
When you experience mental or physical stress again and again, your body is constantly prepared for battle but is never allowed to release that tension. Eventually this irritates your muscles and nerves, causing pain that can be difficult to manage because its difficult to pinpoint or remove your stress triggers.
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Easy Tips To Relieve Stress
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways,from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often overlookedside effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts ofstress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.
When we get stressed out, the body naturally releases certainhormones. Adrenaline is associated with the ancient fight or flight phenomenonthat heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes themuscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the sourceof the stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone it interferes with avariety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to loss of muscle massand increases in fat accumulation.
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often-overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.
Kavita Trivedi, D.O.
Data suggest that adults know stress affects their spines. Online survey participants ranked the No. 1 perceived cause of their neck and back pain as follows:
- Stress: 29 percent
Stretch To Ease A Tight Neck And Shoulders
“Stretching can help to significantly shift tension and allow the muscles to soften,” Dr. Joy says, offering her favorite neck and shoulder stretch:
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