Osteopathy and Stress

Many people these days are suffering from 'stress'. This manifests itself differently in different people. Some people may be angry, some down or depressed and many will have physical symptoms.

  • aching in the back,neck or shoulders
  • pain in the jaw
  • headaches
  • stomach ache or indigestion
  • inability to relax or sleep

These physical symptoms can cause you to feel quite unwell which in turn exacerbates the stress response, this then causes an increase in tension and so a vicious cycle is set up. Click on the link below to see how the stress response works.

The body is always trying to self correct and reach a balance (homeostasis) and an osteopath by releasing muscle tension will not only relax the affected tissues but will allow the body to continue the process of self correction. Andrew Taylor Still the founder of Osteopathy said

  • 'When you have adjusted the physical to its normal demands, nature supplies the remainder'.

The diaphragm is a very important muscle when it comes to any stress or anxiety response. Imagine yourself having a shock...the first thing that often happens is a sharp intake of breath. At this point the diaphragm is tense. It is attached around the margin of the lower ribs and then onto the  front of the lumbar spine.

Although after the initial shock it relaxes somewhat it doesn't always fully release and this then means that you are unable to take a full breath in and this can affect the body's ability to oxygenate fully and this in itself is stressful.

Gentle osteopathic techniques are able to release the attachments of the diaphragm and as it relaxes patients often take in a really deep breath and comment that they hadn't realised that they had not been breathing properly.  Deep breathing has long been used as a relaxation technique and needs a relaxed diaphragm muscle to achieve it fully.

Diaphragmatic tension can be part of the reason children have stomach ache when they are anxious or upset.

Osteopathy can help the body to relax which can in turn help the patient cope with the stressful situation by reducing the physical symptom part of the cycle.