This weeks blog – Muscle Tension Related to Emotional Stress.
From the moment we are born, and a little bit before too, any stress our bodies experience could be held in any of the muscles of our body. From a small area such as your neck to the whole body holding on to that tension.
Any trauma experienced, and birth is often argued as the first trauma, is held in the body in its soft tissues and it takes time for it to be released. It doesn’t make a lot of difference to your body whether the trauma is largely physical or emotional. This is because let’s face it, who hasn’t had an emotional response to a physical trauma?
Trauma is classed as any emotional or physical experience that is beyond our current abilities to handle, including its consequences. The energy from that trauma needs to go somewhere. So, into the fascia and muscles of the body it goes, until it can be released.
Think of the first time you bled as a child, scraping your knee or cutting your finger. Were you more wary of doing the thing that caused that? Of course! And it wouldn’t have been just your brain working overtime to avoid that incident again. Your muscles would have been recruited to aid the avoidance; muscular tension to hold you back as well as memories to remind you why. Sometimes that manifests in better coordination and excellence so you perform a task well. Other times it creates downright avoidance and other issues.
What happens when the stress isn’t released from the muscles?
Aches. Discomfort. Malfunction. Illness.
Sometimes the issues arising from stress and/or trauma are infinitesimal. We live our lives not really noticing. Some people can live with them forever as there is just enough balance to allow some of their tension to release. Whilst others shut down emotionally to avoid further load or have a breakdown because their body simply needs a break.
Sometimes the stress a person feels manifests itself into many types of illness. Short term to force a break, and long term because the body isn’t coping.
There are studies into such effects of trauma and stress. It is believed that it can lead to long term illnesses and chronic conditions as well as increased chance of injuries during everyday life and movement.
How Can I Release Stored Stress?
A myriad of ways exist to release stored stress in the body, from meditation to massage. From adrenaline sports to hiking in green spaces,. From sleeping to counselling. Take your pick. But as you’re here reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re interested in massage as one of those solutions. As I’m here writing this, I’m interested in talking to you about why. Not just massage either, but sports massage specifically.
I nearly always recommend a multitude of activities to help with released stress. As sports massage is just one hour out of hundreds of hours of other activities. The effects of a one hour of massage can last for several days. However, if you continue to indulge in activities that add to your stress load, there isn’t much point to just one massage here and there. Unless it’s part of a regular maintenance plan for unavoidable stressors of work and sport. Like antibiotics, there is a bit of a build up effect to massage, the more you have, the better your body responds.
Muscle Tension and discomfort becoming to much?
If you decide to start sports massage with me, the discomfort you’ve been feeling has got too much for you and now it’s time to see if massage will help where other methods haven’t.
I will assess your medical history and will often ask any questions that arise from that. This gives me an insight to what has happened to you and how you feel about it. I will look at the physical presentation of your discomfort. Then complete a postural assessment as well as functional tests if needed. Along with, palpation to understand how your muscles are behaving.
I take it all into account whilst I massage the physical presentation of your discomfort. This lets me chat to you about what else you are able to do to help alleviate the emotional stress. I am not a counsellor in any way but do have life experiences and offer my thoughts to you based on that. I do recommend a local counsellor* who is very good if that is needed. As well as other services in the area that could complement what you are trying to achieve.
Sports Massage itself will release physical tensions in the muscles, aka knots, allowing freedom of movement without that niggle and discomfort. This allows you to move forward with training plans and life in general. It can also make your muscle more relaxed and that can release stress held there that might make the tension spring back.
*counselling and massage alongside each other have been known to have great effects.
Will Massage Help Me With Muscle Tension Related to Emotional Stress?
In a word, probably.
Why not definitely?
Because not everyone likes to be touched, or enjoys one on one experiences, or chatting about themselves. That said, the body does crave touch. There is rather a drought of touch in modern society and particularly among the brits. But some people just don’t want it.
Massage is a safe place to receive non-threatening, non-sexual, non-confrontational touch.
I am a professional and will talk you through what I am doing. This includes when I am about to lay hands on your back, leg or neck. I also check regularly that you are happy with the pressure. Massage with me is quite chatty unless you specifically ask it not to be. I don’t have music so that we can focus on healing the tension in your muscles. You can bring your own music if you like, the whole experience is completely tailored to your comfort.
Give it a try and see if it helps you. Remember to try other methods of relaxation to keep your emotional stresses low so your muscles don’t have to store it.
Client Experience – Muscle Tension Related to Emotional Stress
A client came to see me with sore and aching inner thighs, which was preventing her from being able to participate in exercise beyond a short time, as the ache would be too much. The assessments I performed all looked clear, there were no injuries or accidents that the client was able to tell me about and it all seemed a bit of a mystery. Once on the treatment couch, and massaging had begun, I could feel the tension and it was quite sensitive for the client, I went gently and built up pressure gradually.
Asking further questions elicited what we were both looking for however, in that the client had experienced a traumatic birth with her daughter. Although I had known at that point that the client was post-natal**, the trauma of the birth hadn’t been mentioned because ‘it is what it is’. Women do tend to downplay the experience of birth and lock away those feelings because other people ‘have it worse’ and those feelings, and fears, get stored in the muscles.
We talked about the experience, and as I massaged while the client retold what happened, I could feel the muscles relaxing a lot more than muscles usually do!
The client felt an immediate release and was able to move with ease for a couple of weeks after that initial session. A couple more appointments and she no longer felt the aches she had been dealing with for several years. She was now aware of the possible cause of the tension and promised herself to continue working on it emotionally as well as physically. Sometimes all that is needed is an awareness so that the tension is not continually locked away.
**Once post-natal, a woman is post-natal for life and as such this should be taken into consideration with any physical or emotional ailment.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions about sports massage and how it could help you. If you would like to start with counselling before massage please do get in touch for my recommendation.
Don’t forget that I am offering online consultations in the interim of lockdown, head over to my bookings page to have a look. Thank you for reading this weeks blog – Muscle Tension Related to Emotional Stress.
See you on the other side, Chloe