It’s well-known that chiropractic is effective for a variety of pain conditions, but over the last few years, more and more studies have found that chiropractic can also help individuals manage the effects of stress.
We all ask the question ‘how do I get rid of stress in my life?’ to which the answer seems impossible in today’s fast-paced society.
Instead at Chiropractic Balance, we ask “How can we cope better with stress in our life?” to which we believe there are many simple strategies that can be adapted to a modern lifestyle.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain(1). With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness.
When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders. For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck, and head. Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress, especially job stress (1).
One of the effects of chronic stress (aka ongoing fight or flight) is muscle tension and contraction, which can lead to uneven pressure on the skeleton, which in turn leads to an imbalance in the spine and joints also known as subluxation(2). Chiropractic adjustments release muscle tension, soothe irritated spinal nerves and improve blood circulation. These changes are important because they can often alert the brain to switch off the fight-or-flight response meaning the body can return to a more relaxed state(3).
Can Chiropractic Care Help Stress?
A 2011 study showed after receiving a chiropractic neck adjustment, patients had altered brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for pain processing and stress reactions. They also had significantly reduced cortisol levels, indicating decreased stress. Participants also reported lower pain scores and a better quality of life after treatment(4).
As scientists learn more about the human body and the role of the nervous system, it’s clear that chiropractic can play a powerful role in promoting true wellness, rather than just symptom relief
We recognize that stress, and the effects it has on the body, is further reaching than just the musculoskeletal system. It can potentially impact, your respiration, posture, immune response, and much more. As such, at Chiropractic Balance we take a holistic, full-body approach to this complex issue. Our team of chiropractors can recommend nutritional supplementation, rehabilitative exercises, deep-tissue massage, relaxation techniques, and postural changes to help people manage the effects of stress.
While it’s impossible to completely eliminate stress, regular chiropractic care coupled with an appropriate care plan can help negate some of its effects and prevent long-term damage to the body.
(1) New Zealander psychological association. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress/effects-musculoskeletal.
(2)Chiropractic.org.nz. 2020. Vertebral Subluxation » New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association. [online] Available at: <https://www.chiropractic.org.nz/about-chiropractic/vertebral-subluxation> [Accessed 15 April 2020].
(3)Palmer college of chiropractic. (2015, September 24). Retrieved from https://blogs.palmer.edu/askpalmer/2015/09/24/how-to-alleviate-stress-with-chiropractic-exercises
(4)Ogura T, Tashiro M, Masud M, et al. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Altern Ther Health Med. 2011;17(6):12–17.