Myth #13 || “I carry my stress in my neck and shoulders.”

11885290_494027684088471_4375337011282792500_nIt would be fair to say that most of us have felt like we’ve carried a bit of tension up and around that neck/shoulder area before. It’s almost a consequence of being a modern human.

We may have been over-stressed at work or at home and it’s results can be quite uncomfortable.

Interestingly though, this isn’t entirely the whole story.

If you, or someone you know feels this way guess what? You don’t have too!

Stress can certainly cause tension and musculoskeletal discomfort throughout the body, but generally there has to be something going on behind the scenes in first place.

With this type of issue it tends to be more of a reflection of bad postures and positions rather than stress alone.

Boring right?

Correct.

In order to obtain that feeling of ‘tension’ we need to be getting ourselves into a position where we are looking down a lot, or letting our shoulders drop and roll forwards – or both.

The longer we’re in these positions the more we overload the neck and shoulders, and as the body is an adaptive beast it is then forced to react. Hence the stiffening and tightening.

Sometimes we get the impression that the tightness comes from holding our shoulders up (ie. when stressed) and need to learn to ‘relax’ them in order for it to settle. But as you can hopefully see above, this doesn’t tend to be the case.

We tend to see this type of presentation coincide with stressful periods for a few potential reasons:

– Prolonged stress tends to lower your body’s threshold for pain and discomfort

– More stress equals less time thinking about yourself and your positions, and more time focusing on what you’re stressed about

– Stress as a trigger tends to stand out more than poor posture

Managing your stress is obviously important, but we should not expect that it alone will improve how you feel long term.

If you’re making good decisions about your day-to-day postures you should then expect to see some changes – with or without your stress levels changing – and for it to last.

Posture is annoying to think about and even more so to practice, but it’s such an important ingredient to maintaining a healthy body.

As with most musculoskeletal issues, the answer always tends to come back to your basic body shapes. If they’re good enough you honestly shouldn’t have put up with these types of aches and pains.

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