What is stress?

We all know what emotional/psychological stress is as we have all probably felt it to some degree in our life. Stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with the mental or emotional pressure we are under.  But we can also have physical stress. Physical stress is the amount of load you put your muscles, tendons and ligaments through as you move and undertake your daily tasks and leisure activities. 

How much stress can I  handle?

We all have a certain capacity for stress, both emotionally and physically. This capacity will vary from individual to individual and is personal to you. There is also a very complex link between both types of stress and increasing one can affect the other. Also, remember that stress isn’t all bad,  it can help us be motivated and strive to do better. In fact, the correct manipulation and amount of stress are what help you progress or recover. But getting the balance right is key.

How does stress relate to injury?

Physically: When you get injured, this is usually because you have exceeded your physical ability to handle load or stress. This could be doing more repetitions of a certain weight, running a bit further, doing a slightly more difficult movement, spending longer in one position or lifting a heavier weight. Essentially, you have done more than the tissues in your body can handle and now they hurt or are damaged. Emotionally; When we have increased mental stress our bodies release certain hormones (adrenaline and cortisol).  These can be beneficial in short-term stressful situations to make us react better but if the stress continues for a prolonged period and these hormones are continuously released it can be harmful to your health.

Interlinked: If we are mentally stressed our physical capacity (the load we can safely manage before injury) is reduced therefore we can get injured easier than if we were in a relaxed state. 

How does stress affect my recovery?

Increased levels of stress hormones can affect  recovery in the following ways :

  • The immune system is depressed: which can reduce our ability to control inflammation which in turn can reduce our healing times.
  • Reduced sleep. The increased hormones during stressful times have a negative effect on our sleep, and we need sleep for our bodies to repair and recover.
  • Increased pain sensation: When we are stressed we feel more pain because of the increased level of cortisol and poor control of inflammation.
  • Being stressed makes our muscles tense up,  bringing us into a poor posture and reducing the time our muscles have to relax and recover.

How can physio help with my stress?

One of the most important aspects of physiotherapy is helping patients with stress management both physically and emotionally. This is because stress has an impact on the recovery time of an injury and also the likelihood of people getting injured/ re-injured. 

Physiotherapy can help in a number of ways:

  • We will give you advice and reassurance regarding your injury which will hopefully put your mind at ease giving you a recovery path for your problem so you know what is in store. 
  • We are able to give you a step-by-step individual rehabilitation programme to ensure that we gradually build your physical stress up without overloading the injured area.
  • We will give you advice on load management for the future to ensure you will not overload your physical stress again, preventing re-injury.
  • We can give you some tips for emotional stress relief that are individual to your situation which will improve your recovery and well-being.

Here are some tips to aid your management of stress.

  • Make sleep a priority.  Improved sleep quality and quantity help to reduce stress hormones – for ways to help improve your sleep please take a look at our blog on sleep 
  • Healthy Diet. Improving the quality of your food. Poor food quality can stress the digestive system. Reducing sugar can help balance the body’s hormone system so we can deal with stress easier.
  • Lose fat. If you are carrying extra fat tissue it can negatively affect the hormones within your body. It also creates more physical stress on your structures just as tendons, ligaments and muscles. 
  • Exercise routinely. There is extensive research that suggests that both strength and cardiovascular exercise will reduce the chronic stress hormones your body produces. Exercises will also help you to lose body fat and improve your sleep and mood. 
  • Get a massage. When we have stressed our muscles become tense. A deep tissue massage can help relieve muscle tension and give you some time to relax.
  • Take a break. plan some real downtime into your day to give your mind time off from stress. this could be Meditation, deep breathing, listening to music, going for a walk or doing Pilates
  • Write your thoughts down register and recognise your own feelings and create a plan to manage them.
  • Talk to someone: If things are bothering you, talking about them can help lower your stress. You can talk to family members, friends, or a therapist

If you require help with managing your physical stress loads through well-structured training and rehabilitation or deep tissue massage please do not hesitate to contact us on 01223 914140 or  e-mail us at enquiries@vineryroadstudios.co.uk,

The Physiofit Team