Management of Stress


This year has been a stressful one for many of us. Management of stress and the associated health issues that come with it is often a multifaceted approach for every individual.  As osteopaths, we also have our part to play as allied health professionals. This blog post looks at the causes and management of the modern stress epidemic and highlights what osteopaths can do to help.


When we are stressed our bodies adopt the “fight or flight” response. It is a natural response that occurs in response to danger and stress-related situations. This involves an increase in blood pressure, redistribution of blood to the most vital areas (e.g. the brain and certain muscles) and an increase in breathing rate that is commonly shallow and inefficient. The digestive system also is affected through tightening of the sphincter muscles that line the gut and can lead to bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea. Additionally, our posture can become altered through tightening and clenching of the neck, shoulder, and back muscles, which can lead to both muscular aches, tension headaches and muscular fatigue.  


Osteopaths can help to relieve the muscular symptoms associated with extended periods of stress. Muscular techniques such as stretching, muscular manipulation and deep tissue massage, can help to release and lengthen the commonly affected muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulders. Home exercises are also commonly prescribed, which can help to encourage more mobility of these muscle areas and prevent a further build-up of muscular irritation. Osteopaths treat the body, so commonly will assess the associated spinal joints and overall spinal posture, and provide treatment where necessary. These manual therapy techniques can also often help relieve and prevent tension headaches, which commonly occur because of muscular tension and irritation.

Osteopathic treatment can also help to relieve the discomfort and posture adaptations associated with hyperventilation and shallow breathing because of regular stress. We can help to reduce the irritation of the associated muscles of breathing mechanics, such as the diaphragm, intercostals (muscles between the ribs) and rhomboids (muscles surrounding your shoulder blades). Exercises that encourage improved posture, promote good breathing mechanics, and help with stress relief are also commonly given.

This manual therapy treatment is commonly given alongside other methods of stress management where required. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms shown above, book in with one of our osteopaths or call for advice.

You can now book in online at  or phone 01788 560646.

We will look forward to hearing from you.