EFFECT OF STRESS ON SPINE
Updated: Feb 13, 2018
Modern day people cannot avoid excessive stress. Once this stress builds up in our body, not only does it affect our whole body negatively by causing psychological problems such as depression, but it also causes cardiovascular diseases by raising blood pressure, skin diseases due to weakened immune system, infertility, cancer, and variety of diseases.
Considerable number of patients receiving cervical and lumbar treatment said their neck and low back pain worsened when they were angry or are under stress. Especially office workers who sit for a long time most commonly express specifically neck, shoulder, and low back muscle stiffness when stressed. Worst cases include stiffness from the neck all the way down to the low back, which makes turning the neck and walking with a straight back very difficult, as well as opening the mouth due to temporomandibular disorder. What is the relation between stress and muscle pain?
Excessive stress causes stress hormone called Cortisol to be secreted, and this leads to muscle contraction and stiffness. Muscle stiffness leads to poor blood circulation, build up of metabolites, muscle fatigue due to lack of oxygen, and pain from inflammation due to overuse. If there is continuous pain and stress, then fibers made up from collagen in muscles are generated. This is the reason muscles harden up like a rock.
According to the medical book “Third Ziongzhong Medical Record, Lumbago Edition” explains, ‘The liver governs the muscle, the kidney governs the bone. Lumbago is a musculoskeletal disease.’ “Liver Qi Stagnation” means when stressed, the liver Qi becomes stagnated, and if the liver qi is stagnated, the muscle that the liver governs also becomes stagnated.
How can you relieve muscle pain due to stress? The most efficient way is to regularly and sufficiently work out. Proper jogging and walking cardio exercises relaxes the tension of the body by lightening up the body, and stretching extends contracted muscles.
Korean Medicine treatment in relaxing the muscles can be divided largely into two groups: Acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine. Acupuncture needles can reach deeply into the contracted muscles and effectively relax the stiff muscles and improve blood circulation. Also, stimulation of acupressure can resolve stress and calm the spirit of the heart effectively. Herbal medicine eliminates inflammation around the stagnated muscles, reduces pain, and strengthens muscles and tendon mechanisms very successfully.
Stress is not always a bad thing. Enough stress can actually be beneficial, where it can temporarily improve the immune system and brain function. Psychologist Lazarus reported that stress from the same reason can be taken either as a positive stress or a negative stress depending on the individual. Therefore, let us remember that positive stress with proper response to stress can actually be a foundation of health and success.
The following is herbal tea and stretching that are good for stress:
Lotus seed tea drains fire in the heart and relieves stress. This tea is good for heart palpitation, chest tightness, and dry mouth. Lotus seed has tranquilizing effect, which calms and relaxes the heart effectively. Simmer 500ml of water and 12g of lotus seed on low heat for one hour. Drink in the morning and evening in a coffee cup.
Stretching exercise to relieve spine exhaustion:
First, hang the calves over a sofa or a chair, lie down, and stretch both arms upward for five seconds. In that same position, lift the pelvis and straightened up the spine. This relaxes the muscles around the low back.
Second, place both feet on a sofa or chair while bending the knee ninety degrees. Move both knees to right and left slowly. The range of movement extends right before feeling any pain. Repeat this motion for 3-5 times, and the leg muscles will feel relaxed and refreshed.
Published by KoreaTimes under <Health Column> on September 22nd, 2015.