What do the following symptoms have in common?
- Neck and back pain
- Pelvic floor pain or urgency urinary incontinence
- TMJ/TMD or jaw pain
- Muscle tension
They can all be symptoms of stress!
This week I noticed that I was exhibiting signs of back to school stress. And I don’t go to school! But my kids do and in addition to school they do after school (and before school) activities. While continually running late in my chauffeur duties yesterday, I noticed myself stopped at a red light taking a deep diaphragmatic breath with a long exhale. After that, I felt better! This made me wonder if everybody would know how to reduce their symptoms of stress with breathing?
Take a slow deep breath through your nose. Concentrate on filling your middle to lower lungs in all directions: your ribs and belly should move sideways, backwards, forwards. Minimize how much your shoulders move upwards. Keep your neck relaxed. Let the air fall out of your nose slowly so that the exhale takes longer than the inhale. You might perform 3-5 of these and then resume normal breathing.
Some people carry their stress more physically than others. Can you open your mouth wide without feeling pain or stretch? If you tense up your shoulders towards your ears, is it easy to turn off that tension and relax them? Now try your pelvic floor: do a kegel contraction and then release it. If you cannot tell if you are contracting and relaxing your muscles, you may have increased pelvic floor tension. Have you considered that possibility? It is reasonably common in young and especially active women.
If you notice that you do carry a lot of tension in your muscles, you may benefit from treatments aimed at:
- improving your posture
- developing a stretching routine or cardio program
- strengthening for improved muscle balance
- trigger point release with manual or needling interventions
- deep breathing exercises or an assessment on our capnograph
- pelvic health therapy or bladder training
Please do not hesitate to contact Pursuit Physiotherapy if you recognize yourself as having these types of symptoms and you are unable to control them with awareness, breathing, and muscle relaxation. And don’t forget to get lots of sleep….and eat well…and…!