Now that I have talked about effects on all the other systems of the body, I will focus on how stress affects the muscles. The initial response to flight or fight mode is all the larger muscles in the legs like hamstrings, quads prepare you to run away. The upper body muscles like biceps, triceps are ready to push, hit, etc. The postural muscles deactivate, so all the stabilizing muscles and smaller muscles (containing high amounts of proprioceptors) deactivate affecting balance and proprioception.
With so many changes happening initially if the stress cycle continues the long term effects are adverse. Stress leads to muscle imbalances, fatigue, trigger points, balance and proprioception issues and loss of joint protection. Manual therapy plays an important role in addressing all the above issues by educating and treating the effects on muscles. This is done through the nervous system and the brain by:
- Balancing the autonomic nervous system
- Working on stabilizing muscles
- Postural reeducation
- Isometric exercises
- Range of motion and dynamic stretching
- Proprioception and sensorimotor retraining
- Trigger point and soft tissue treatment
- And more!
The last but not the least is sleep. Stay tuned to read more about stress and its effects on sleep.