Body tension is a common physiological phenomenon when the body muscles contract and remain partially contracted for some time before release. This often makes the muscles feel stiff and achy, leading to severe body pain if left unchecked and persists for a long time.
It is mainly caused by stress, muscle overuse, and other repetitive physical activities. In other words, everyday activities and movement throughout the day can quickly build tenseness up in your body. Sitting for extended periods or engaging in manual labor can cause your body to tense up.
But note that body tension that stems from the physiological effects of stress often tends to be more adverse. Stress refers to any environmental change that requires the body to readjust in response.
While the human body is specially designed to react to and handle stress, the muscles always tense up whenever the body gets stressed. This kind of reaction is nearly a reflex action to stress designed to guard the body against injury and pain.
Ideally, body muscles tend to tense up all at once at the onset of stress but release the tension after the anxiety passes. This occurrence is not healthy and should be addressed as soon as possible.
This is because chronic stress often means that you are always in a constant state of body tension. This means that your muscles remain taut for a long time, triggering other body reactions that may lead to stress-related disorders.
Some common symptoms of this distress include tension headaches, sleeping disorders, heart problems, and high blood pressure. To help you prevent things from getting out of hand, here are a few ways to release naturally occurring stiffness in the body.
Muscle Tension and Circulation
The circulation system works to oxygenate and provide nourishment to all organs in the body. This system mainly relies on the heart and blood vessels, which are also interconnected with the body’s stress response system.
When the body experiences acute stress (short-term stress mainly caused by sudden movements to avoid or correct something), it releases relevant stress hormones. This triggers the heart to have more muscular contractions and pump faster—facilitating the supply of the chemical messengers to appropriate body parts through circulation.
Furthermore, blood vessels also dilate and increase the overall blood supply to different body parts. In medical terms, this condition is known as flight or fight response, after which everything returns to normal once the stress passes.
On the other hand, chronic stress (long-term stress) often means long-lasting problems for the cardiovascular system. The constant increase in heart rates and production of stress hormones coupled with elevated blood pressure takes a toll on the body.
Whether acute or not, repeated occurrence of stress often causes inflammations in the cardiovascular system, posing a greater risk for cardiac attack, stroke, and hypertension.
Release Trapped Stress
Body tension and muscle tightness in the neck, shoulders and back are some of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety. It is part of the body’s defense mechanism against physiological threats, also known as the fight or flight response to stress.
Apart from stress, you can get tight shoulders from incorrect sleeping positions or sitting down for long periods. But the constant build-up of tension in the shoulders and back muscles often stiffens the upper body, limiting your daily activities and movement.
Luckily, several strategies help manage and release trapped stress in your shoulders and back. This includes targeted yoga exercises, neck stretches, and other relaxation techniques.
You can use ice and heat pads to help relax the muscles and “reset” them in a way that soothes stiff joints and relaxes muscle spasms. Since the tension build-up in the neck is often linked with tension in the shoulders and the back, stretching it can help pent-up release tension down the spine.
Incorrect sleeping positions like sleeping on your back with your hands above the head puts pressure on the nerves in your upper body and makes your shoulders tense.
You tend to move around a lot when you sleep. You often hold different postures for long hours, significantly contributing to tension build-up in the back and shoulders. Fortunately, products such as the Nolah Original mattress for pressure relief are specifically designed to help prevent putting excess stress on the spine.
Body Tension and Stress Management
Body tension is a normal physiological reaction to changing life experiences. It is a typical product of the effects of stress on the body and a significant part of the fight or flight biological stress response process. This can help prevent injury and pain in acute cases but can lead to severe consequences if the condition is chronic and left unaddressed. So, use these tips to help prevent things from getting out of hand and live a healthy life.