Many people brush off muscle tension as being nothing more than the body’s response to stress, assuming it has no real impact on their health. But the truth is that muscle tension, especially chronic cases that persist for weeks or months on end, can affect the body in more ways than just one.
How it affects the body
People who live in a constant state of tension tend to exhibit elevated blood pressure levels. When muscles are tense, blood pumps faster and more aggressively, stressing the arteries. Subsequently, this can increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease, resulting in stroke or heart attack. Heart disease is the number one cause of death among both men and women in the U.S. and preventative measures should be taken to keep a regulated blood pressure.
Chronic muscle tension increases the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, both of which can take a toll on the liver. When these hormones are released, the liver automatically produces more glucose in response. While our bodies need some glucose to fuel it with energy, excessive amounts may cause mood swings, nausea and other problems, especially in people who are diabetic or on the verge of becoming diabetic.
You might be surprised to learn that muscle tension can affect your sleeping habits, and not in a good way. The body reacts to muscle tension by releasing stress hormones like the ones mentioned above. When these hormones flood the body, they trigger the “fight or flight” response, making you feel jittery and anxious. These symptoms can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night, as your body isn’t relaxed enough to go into a deep sleep.
Massage Therapy for Muscle Tension
Muscle tension isn’t something that should dictate your life. Fortunately, massage therapy is an extremely effective method for relieving tension and pain. A professional massage therapist will first ask you which areas of your body are giving you the most trouble. Be sure to tell him or her the areas in which you are experiencing the highest levels of muscle tension. Using various manual manipulation practices, the therapist can relieve the tension in these muscles, and you often start to feel relief rather immediately. Massage therapy doesn’t mask the problem, but resolves it instead. This form of treatment is a safe alternative to prescription pain medication with no unwanted side effects. If you are experiencing muscle tension and can’t find relief, give massage therapy a try.
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