Where we hold our tension and why

  • Massage Therapy
  • March 12, 2024
  • 5 min read
Where we hold our tension

Do you ever feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? It’s no wonder- according to a study by the American Psychological Association, almost half of all Americans report feeling significant stress in their lives. And it’s not just adults who are feeling the pressure- a recent study showed that children as young as eight are experiencing high levels of stress. So what’s causing all this tension?

In this article, we will explore where we tend to hold our physical tension and why.

What do we mean by tension?

In terms of massage therapy, tension is defined as “the condition that exists when the tissues of the body are held in a state of partial contraction.” This can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Muscular overuse or imbalances
  • Poor posture
  • Mental or emotional stress
  • Chronic pain

All of these factors can lead to tension in the body, which can manifest as muscle tightness, pain, or even.

Why does this tension develop?

There are a few reasons why tension can develop in the body. One reason is that when we experience stress, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode. This is a survival mechanism that dates back to our caveman days when we had to be on constant alert for predators.

When we perceive a threat, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase our heart rate and blood pressure and send more blood to our muscles so we can fight or flee.

This “fight or flight” response is meant to be a short-term survival mechanism, but in today’s world of chronic stressors like job insecurity, financial worries, and family conflict, our bodies are in a constant state of alert.

This can lead to tension headaches, back pain, neck pain, and other chronic health problems.

So where do we tend to hold this tension?

The most common areas of tension are in the neck, shoulders, and low back. This is these are the areas that bear the most weight and are used the most throughout the day. Neck and shoulder tension is often caused by poor posture, emotional stress, or chronic pain. Low back tension is often caused by muscular imbalances or overuse.

Tension can also be held in the jaw, which can lead to headaches and TMJ disorders. This is often caused by stress or clenching the teeth. The hands and feet are also common areas of tension. This is often caused by overuse, injury, or chronic pain.

When we are under stress, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. This is a survival mechanism that dates back to our days as hunter-gatherers. When we are in danger, our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol to give us the energy and strength to either fight the threat or run away from it. This stress response is beneficial in short bursts, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to all kinds of health problems, including muscle tension.

So what can you do about it?

First, try to identify the source of your stress and see if there are any changes you can make to reduce or eliminate it. If that’s not possible, there are still things you can do to help your body relax. Exercise is a great way to release tension and stress, and it can also help to improve your overall health.

Yoga or stretching exercises may also be helpful in relieving muscle tension. Massage therapy can also be beneficial, as it can help to loosen tight muscles and promote relaxation. Finally, make sure to get enough rest and relaxation. When our bodies are tired, we are more likely to feel tense and stressed. Getting enough sleep and taking breaks throughout the day can help reduce stress levels and ease muscle tension.

How massage therapy can help with tension

Message therapy can help to loosen tight muscles and promote relaxation. It can also help to improve circulation and reduce stress levels. Massage therapy is a great way to release tension and stress, and it can also help to improve your overall health.

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Ivy Adams
Massage Therapy Program Chair

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Ivy is a proud graduate of Northwest Career College, class of 1999, and has been a Licensed Massage Therapist ever since. Her eighteen years of experience has taken her through an eclectic array of…Read Full Bio