It’s the nature of a massage therapist’s work that clients seem to have the same issues in bundles. One week it’s shoulder pain, the next everyone’s low back hurts. I have been doing this for ten years, long enough to know this is the norm.
Well, this week it’s stress. It’s a muscles job to contract and relax, that is what makes our body parts move. We have over 400 muscles in our body, approximately 46% of our body weight, that work effortlessly when they are working properly. Stress causes increased muscle tension, or contraction. This is the part of ‘fight or flight’ that allows us to move quickly when attacked, or move out of the way when a car is coming toward us. When there is no longer imminent threat the muscles are supposed to relax. If we have constant stresses in our lives tension never goes away. My clients often tell me they have ‘normal stress’. Stress is not normal—it is common—it’s not normal.
Stressed muscles are often painful. However, when we are stressed for a long period of time our muscles stop trying to get the brain to recognize that they are fatigued and continue to do their job—they ‘muscle through’. After some time of this, in addition to repetitive motion, exercise, and activities of daily living, the muscle cells are pushed beyond their limit and they seize, or stop working—they contract.
Remember, the heart is a muscle. If your skeletal muscles are tight, imagine what your heart is like.
Pharmaceutical muscle relaxers do not relax your muscles, if they did you would be in a puddle on the floor. Anti inflammatory drugs work only for a short period of time.
The best treatment is to de-stress, relax, take a break. You are not a robot. Even God rested.
There are various ways of relaxing, the best is to remove things from your schedule in order to create down time. A good way to do this is to delegate. You don’t have to take care of everything for everyone. Here is a list of Age Appropriate Chores. Your spouse can make his/her own meal once in a while—even weekly, and it might be nice if they cooked for you from time to time. It’s okay that your child doesn’t get driven by you, they can walk; ride a bike; or even go with another driver to the event. You do not have to attend each and every sporting event and practice. Being on the board of a non-profit may look good on a resume but do you really need to be on so many at one time?
You get the picture, relax, it’s ok. If you don’t you might just have a heart attack.