Stress: how Osteopathy can help?

What is stress?


Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. In fact, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it.
When you experience changes or challenges (stressors), your body produces physical and mental responses.

What happens to the body?

Nowadays unfortunately this physiological reaction gives negative results and causes changes in our body most of the times.
Our body is a perfect machine, created to face multiple requests, one of these is the response to stressful stimuli, which are processed by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. Under stressful conditions, the hypothalamus (a small gland inside the brain) stimulates release factors for the pituitary gland (another endocrine gland always inside the brain) which will produce ADH and ACTH.
ADH is an antidiuretic hormone, and acts on our body by constricting blood vessels, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and in the reabsorption of fluids, creating more concentrated urine. ACTH is another hormone that acts on the adrenal level, stimulating the production and release of cortisol, considered to be the stress hormone.

In a stressful situation, our Autonomic Nervous System is unbalanced in favor of the orthosympathetic system, which releases catecholamines, adrenaline and noradrenaline into the circulation, causing physical changes that are used to react to the stressful stimulus and preparing the body for the “fight”.

When a person has long-term stress (chronic), Physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms develop:

  • Aches and pain
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Muscle tension and jaw clenchingTiredness and trouble sleeping
  • Weak immune system
  • Digestive problems
stress osteopathy

How Osteopathy can help you to cope with stress?

As students we are learning that Osteopathy is able to work indirectly on the balance of the nervous system, going to “inhibit” or “stimulate” the orthosympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system using specific manual techniques.

Having a tension in the cervical area can cause an alteration in the quality of the signal of one of the most important nerves we have, the vagus nerve.

Its course goes from the base of the skull through the jugular hole, down to innervate most of the visceral organs.

By acting directly on the cervical tension caused by stress, a parasympathetic response is obtained which will result in a decrease in muscle tone and a better balance of the nervous system.

Another area often affected in stressful situations is the rib cage and the ability to breathe properly. Often there is a feeling of shortness of breath and tightness on the breastbone. This is an effect due to the over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

The osteopath, thanks to specific techniques on the ribs and on the diaphragm, is able to restore the respiratory capacity and above all obtains an improvement in the tone of the sympathetic nervous system throughout the body.

Osteopathy acts on the effects of chronic stress by improving the osteo-muscular, visceral and fascial components of the body and restoring physiology and homeostasis.

Extra tips

  • Relaxation activities such as yoga or meditation
  • Sport and exercises
  • A correct diet for you 
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Positive attitude
  • Slow down your life and enjoy simple and little things