So are you feeling tense right now?? You are not alone!
The fight or flight response is an automatic reaction to a situation that you perceive as stressful or frightening. That perception of danger or threat activates the sympathetic nervous system which in turn triggers an acute stress response. It prepares your body to stay and fight or run away.
While the fight or flight response has effects on all the body systems (for example increased circulation and respiratory rate) the most common symptom that we treat is pain caused by muscle tension.
When the body sustains the fight or flight response for long periods of time, the compression of the blood vessels supplying the muscles leads to a poor oxygen supply. There is also a build-up of by-products of muscle contraction which stimulate the pain receptors in the muscle. Often, the muscles can become so tight or overactive that they alter or restrict joint movement leading to joint stiffness or pain.
When you are sitting for long periods of time in front of the computer or under time pressure and mental stress, the flight or fight response is happening without you even being aware of it.
There are many different ways to tackle the heightened response such as meditation, psychological coping techniques, relaxed breathing etc. It is not a “one size fits all” solution, however, the following stretches and exercises target the “usual culprits” to help counter muscle tension and joint stiffness.
While the following stretches are very gentle and basic, there are always individual cases where the exercise may be contraindicated for you. Please consult your therapist before you start the exercise and STOP if it causes you pain.