Physical therapy and stress management go hand in hand. Some experts say that patients who practice stress management techniques see better results from physical therapy. Many others consider PT an effective method for reducing stress.
In this article, we’ll focus on the latter point — how and why physical therapy can aid in stress management. We’ll start by discussing how stress can affect your musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Then, we’ll talk about how physical therapy can help you manage stress and its side effects.
How stress affects your musculoskeletal system
Stress creates tension in your muscles to protect you against injury. Ideally, your muscles loosen as you become less stressed, but chronic stress can keep your muscles in a constant state of tension.
This chronic muscle tension can have side effects in other areas of your body. For instance, muscle tension in your neck and shoulders can lead to cervicogenic headaches and migraines.
Muscle rigidity can be quite painful on its own, as well. When you experience chronic muscle tension in any area of your body, you may find it difficult or even painful to move around.
How stress affects the rest of your body
Your musculoskeletal system isn’t the only system that’s affected when you get anxious or stressed out. Stress affects your other bodily systems, too:
- Respiratory system — Stress can cause shortness of breath and even asthma attacks, particularly in people with preexisting respiratory conditions. This can lead to a cycle of stress, as a lack of air intake can generate further anxiety.
- Cardiovascular system — When the body experiences stress, the heart rate increases and some blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow. Chronic stress can overwork the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and other conditions.
- Nervous system — Some experts believe that stress exacerbates neuropathy symptoms, including nerve pain.
Why physical therapy works for stress management
Here are a few ways that your physical therapist can help you manage stress and its side effects:
- Changing your habits — Your physical therapist may be able to identify patterns in your daily work habits that could contribute to increased stress or decreased health. For instance, if you spend most of your day sitting, they’ll coach you on ways to incorporate movement into your day without interfering with your responsibilities.
- Movement coaching — They’ll also work with you to address any habits in your movements that increase your achiness. If you can move around more comfortably and with less pain, you may experience less stress in your daily life.
- Exercise — Your physical therapist can work with you to develop a customized exercise routine that targets your specific problem area. This exercise routine will help you strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility, which can help you move around easier and more comfortably.
- Breathing techniques — Sometimes, improving your breathing is simply a matter of improving your posture. Your physical therapist will assess your posture to identify any postural issues that are preventing you from taking deep, full breaths.
Can virtual physical therapy help with stress management?
Virtual physical therapy can be just as effective as inpatient treatment for many patients. It is particularly helpful for patients seeking physical therapy for stress management.
Here are a few reasons why:
- No traffic — For many people, traveling to the clinic is enough of a reason to avoid seeking treatment. Virtual physical therapy makes it easy for patients to get treated without having to travel.
- No walking, stairs or other obstacles — Some people seek physical therapy treatment because moving is a burden for them. Virtual physical therapy enables patients to seek treatment without having to put themselves into any situations that cause further pain.
- Scheduling flexibility — It can be hard to find time in your schedule for physical therapy. Eliminating the commute gives you extra time in your schedule, but virtual therapy also allows you to meet with specialists whenever works best for you.
Agile Virtual PT can help you with stress management
As we said previously, physical therapy and stress management go hand in hand. If you’re looking for a way to manage your stress or supplement your existing stress management routine, call us for a free screening.
Agile Virtual PT may be able to help you reduce the amount of stress in your life. Plus, our services are entirely virtual, so you can attend PT sessions without the added stress of traveling to a clinic. It’s so easy!
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.