Some people are surprised when they hear of the overlap between my massage therapy work and Ann’s stress management work and yet each of us meets clients who can benefit from the other’s approach. The reason for this overlap is the body’s response to stress.
The stress response prepares your body for fighting or running away – it is a survival response evolved to keep us alive in a world of predators. However, in today’s world, our stresses tend not to be things that we can either fight or run away from. Today, most people’s stress occurs over a much longer timescale: long term worries about money, work, relationships and suchlike. Therefore, that readiness for fighting or running away is maintained for days and weeks rather than for minutes. As a result, the tensing of the muscles in preparation of the fight or the run is held for hours, days, even weeks.
Just imagine – if someone asked you to hold any position for several hours, you’d probably think they were mad. Yet, when we’re stressed we unconsciously raise our shoulders and tense our abdominal muscles all the time we are stressed. It’s not surprising then that stress can result in headaches resulting from muscle tension in the back of the neck, or tired and tense stomach muscles.
With long-term stress these problems need massage therapy to release the knots that have developed. At the same time, unless the person learns how to cope with the stress in their lives, these muscle problems (along with other stress-related problems) will recur. By correcting the muscles problems which arise from stress and building emotional resilience to stress a person can become both physically and mentally healthier.
Which is why Ann and I have the overlap in clients that we dowellbeing.