Harman TherapiesSports Massage & Massage Therapy in Salisbury, Wiltshire

STRESS. stress


A stressor is the body's 'fight or flight response' to an emergency. It was needed in primitive times for survival against danger and was designed for short bursts of activity.
The strain of being in a constant state of alert, without the release that physical activity brings, leads to problems such as back and neck pain, headaches, raised blood pressure, indigestion, sweating, irritability, insomnia, anxiety and depression.
The word stress comes from the Latin word 'stringere', which means 'to draw tight'. Constant stress causes the muscles to become tight resulting in pain. Please refer to page 3 for more information under the heading 'Reason why muscles become tight'.
During short bursts of stress, the number and activity of the white blood cells are increased in order to fight off invading bacteria, but in the long term the activity of these cells actually decreases leaving the body's defence system vulnerable to infection. This is why continued stress can affect our health. Eventually the body will become exhausted.

Chemical substances such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, additives, drugs and environmental toxins also cause stress on the body's systems, which in turn deplete energy levels.

When stress hormones flood the system, the blood vessels that supply organs involved with exercise or fighting off danger dilate, allowing a greater blood flow through their tissues. The blood vessels that supply organs which are not essential to the 'fight or flight' response such as the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract actually constrict to enable the blood to go to where it is most needed. The processes that are not essential for meeting the stressful situation are inhibited such as muscular movements of the gastrointestinal tract. Digestive secretions slow down and may even stop for a while, interrupting the normal activities of digestion and excretion. The body needs to expel faecal matter regularly as this waste product provides a home for many unfriendly bacteria which will multiply and therefore could result in poor colon health and inflammation of its lining.

When the body relaxes, the opposite of the 'fight or flight' response occurs, this is known as 'REST AND DIGEST'. During this period the bodily functions that conserve and restore energy during times of rest and recovery are more active. The blood is diverted back to the digestive system and impulses are sent to the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract allowing energy-supplying food to be digested and absorbed.


Relaxation has the opposite effect to that of stress on the body.
It will decrease the amount of adrenaline, the stress hormone, which in turn will lower blood pressure and therefore relieve pressure on the cardiovascular system.
It helps to increase the activity of white blood cells which will make the body less susceptible to illness.
Due to the body not being in a state of alert the blood supply will be diverted back to the digestive organs.


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