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Chiropractic Care and How It Relates to Stress Relief - Guest Blog

June 23, 2017

{{I am sooooo excited to post this guest blog article my oh-so-amazing chiropractor wrote for me!  From receiving chiropractic treatments for a while, I knew that there had to be a connection between the treatments and my stress levels.  I always leave feeling like I have superpowers and can take on the world!  When I asked him if he could write something more concrete about the subject, he was more than willing!  So thank you so much Dr. Jim Gilliard!  And I hope you all  enjoy!}}

 

Without further ado…Dr Jim Gilliard:

 

Hello! Kelly has reached out to see if I could contribute to her blog, helping to understand how chiropractic care can be used to manage stress and anxiety. I hope you find this useful — but be forewarned: I’m not exactly known to be of few words in written pieces! So sit down with your coffee, tea, or beverage of choice and hopefully this answers as many of your questions as possible.

 

A Bit About Stress

According to an article published by Statistics Canada in 2011, highly stressed Canadian workers find the following, in order, to be the most common sources of stress in their lives:

  • work

  • finances

  • time

  • family

  • personal/other,

Add to this biological stressors like influenza, common colds, temperature changes, food intake, etc. — all of which add a certain degree of stress to your body, and your life.

But the thing all of these have in common is that they are already recognized in society — there are numerous strategies available to address them, and people do! Meditation, journalling, changing dietary habits, utilizing essential oils, etc. — all of these are useful methods to alleviate the stressors already mentioned.

 

But I’ve left out one particular stressor — perhaps the most common one! — physical stress. This is the place where I am able to guide you best.

 

Let’s go through three basic questions to make sure things are clear:

  1. What is physical stress?

  2. What are the ways physical stress impacts me?

  3. What can I do to decrease physical stress?

1. Physical stress is everywhere. It can be acute — something sudden — like a car accident or a sports injury, an at-home chore like cleaning, painting, vacuuming, etc., or physical stress can be chronic — something developed over time — like a postural tendency, an habitual activity (like washing your hair in a sink), or a workplace factor (like sitting hunched forward at a desk, typing on a keyboard).

In general, most people recognize these stressors based on how their body feels or moves — tightness, stiffness, aches, painful points, difficulty reaching, bending, lifting, etc. Have you noticed those symptoms? I know I have.

 

Unfortunately, these are signs that we frequently ignore, considering them the “cost of doing business” in everyday life. “Just the usual aches and pains,”people will say, which might be true if they didn’t also have an impact on the other stressors in our life.

 

2. The problem is, physical stressors aren’t limited to simple aches and pains. There are well-documented relationships existing between workplace stress and physical pain, and at one time we thought this relationship existed in a single direction — ie. more work stress leads to more physical aches and pains. But as research grows we are beginning to find the reverse is also true – your physical stressors increase work stress too.

 

This is why addressing physical stress is so important — when stress is allowed to linger (even physical aches and pains), it essentially compounds on the other stressors in your life.

 

“[…] it appears that workers who report musculoskeletal pain are more likely to develop subsequent […] stress.”

– Bonzini et al. 2015

 

3. Chiropractic care is ideally suited to help people manage stress and anxiety in this manner. The essence of problems managed best by chiropractic care are rooted in muscle tension, joint restriction, and movement difficulty — sound familiar? As mentioned before, this is the same pattern that physical stressors tend to present themselves.
 

By providing treatments with hands-on, non-invasive, patient-centred care, modern chiropractors use a combination of diverse therapies that are tailored to each patient’s needs. These therapies might range from acupuncture, to electrical stimulation, to manual massage, to laser therapy, to specific stretching and strengthening exercises.

 

This variety of tools means that some are focused on creating local changes (fix things that are sore), others may address more systemic goals (whole-body changes), or both.

For example, one of the most common tools chiropractors are know to use are spinal mobilizations (slow, low-force stretching of joints) and/or spinal manipulations (quick, low-force stretching of joints — you may know these better as “adjustments”). This method of treatment is used to help relax muscles, restore joint movement, and decrease local pain. But it has also been found to on a larger, whole-body scale, by influencing the sympathetic nervous system.

 

 

Personally, I think most of chiropractic care’s benefits to limiting stress and anxiety come from untangling the web of tight muscles, joint restriction, and movement impairments that are often hidden. By treating these aspects of physical stress, we can effectively break the cycle in which other life stressors start to pile on.

 

Having said that, as we learn more about the ways in which the body and mind are connected, having the ability to influence the sympathetic nervous system at the same time is important to acknowledge as well, and it is of course still important to address other forms of stress too, via tools like meditation, journalling, etc.

 

So let’s sum this all up:

  1. There are a number of stressors present in everyday life. Most are self-managed with things like pre-planning, time management, meditation, yoga, journalling, use of essential oils, etc. These are important, but…

  1. Physical stress is often overlooked, under appreciated, or poorly managed, and yet it can compound other stresses in a bidirectional manner (ie. work stress leading to more physical stress; or physical stress leading to more work stress). So it is important to treat this form of stress too, for example…

  1. Chiropractic care resolves the aches and pains, tightness and stiffness, restrictions and limitations, etc. that are manifested from physical stressors, while also impacting parts of the body’s stress system (like the sympathetic nervous system).

 

All in all, if you’re looking for a health professional who can help identify, manage, and resolve physical stressors — a chiropractor just might be it.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Jim Gilliard is a chiropractor in Burlington, ON, located at Endorphins Health and Wellness Centre. Visit his website at drjimgilliard.com, or contact his clinic by phone at (905) 634 – 6000.

 

 

 

 

 

References of note:

Crompton, Susan. What’s stressing the stressed? Main sources of stress among workers. Statistics Canada; October 13, 2011. Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-008-X: Canadian Social Trends.

Kingston L, Claydon L, Tumilty S. The effect of spinal mobilizations on the sympathetic nervous system: a systematic review. Manual Therapy, 2014; 19(4): 281-287.

Bonzini M, Bertu’ L, Veronesi G, Ferrario MM, Conti M, Coggon D, Bertu’ L. Is musculoskeletal pain a consequence or a cause of occupational stress? A longitudinal study. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2015; 88(5): 607-612.

 


Thanks again Dr. Jim Gilliard!  You touched on so many important subjects and provided us with some great insight into the medical side of stress.  Especially how it relates to our physical and emotional well-being.   I truly appreciate the information as well as all the care you show towards your patients.

 

I hope everyone enjoy this guest blog and if you have any questions feel free to direct them to me and I will gladly find out for you.

 

To your health and happiness,

 

Kelly :)

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