Stress and the Body’s Physical Response


Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress—the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain.

With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once and then release their tension when the stress passes. However, chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body.

Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities and therapies have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, and increase a sense of well-being. Stress-relieving activities have also been shown to improve mood and daily function.

Luckily, we now understand much more about effective strategies for reducing stress responses. Such beneficial strategies include:

  • Maintaining a healthy social support network
  • Engaging in regular physical exercise
  • Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night

These approaches have important benefits for physical and mental health and form critical building blocks for a healthy lifestyle. As a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy and movement expert, I can help you identify the challenges and stressors that affect your daily life and find ways to help to improve your overall physical and mental well-being through movement.