Stress and Tension

How does it feel in your body when you hear that word? Is it a heaviness? Do areas contract, tense up, brace for impact? Is it associated with a lot of things to juggle, deadlines to meet, many things on your mind and demands on your time? At such times, a massage or yoga would be most useful.

Perhaps you might be curious to learn that pressure is constantly working in your favour. Let me elaborate.There is the air pressure outside our body and an internal pressure of our bodily tissues and fluids. The diaphragm is a divider. From the lumbar vertebrae this muscle forms a big parachute or umbrella shape attaching to the lower inside section of our ribcage. Above the diaphragm are our lungs. Below it, lie the internal organs of our abdomen.
As we breathe in, the diaphragm draws down, which creates a cavity above it, where the lungs are situated. In order to balance the same pressure as the external environment air is drawn in to fill this space. Breathing out, the diaphragm relaxes into its large domed shape and the air is pushed out.
What’s going on below the diaphragm? The internal organs get a bit of a massage, moved around by the motion of air coming in and pressing down on them. Then when we breathe out, a similar mechanism to what creates the intake of air, takes place, where substance fills a space that is created, to equalise distribution of pressure and lymphatic fluid is drawn upwards.
The lymphatic system is the bodies cleaning system, where it processes waste products and fights disease. The vessels of the lymphatic system don’t have any muscles of their own to move the fluid. Instead the transport of lympahtic fluid relys on movements of surrounding tissue, such as during physical activity, exercise or massage, with one way valves stopping backflow, so that it can be filtered at our various lymph nodes which are often located in the sites of large joints such as the armpits. The body capitalises on body movements as a pumping mechanism, a very clever design!
The upward drawing effect of the diaphragm as a pressure pump is vitally important as this fluid,
from the whole body, can only return to the bloodstream at the venous angles where our right
lymphatic duct and the thoracic duct empty into the subclavian veins, located just underneath our clavicles (collar bones) at the base of our neck.

Back to the pressure definition meaning stress…..Did you know that stress from any form of pressure creates chemicals (hormones) in the bloodstream. These hormones have to be broken down and dealt with – a job for the lymphatic system, which is why we become more vulnerable to catching a cold when we are frantically ‘burning the candle at both ends’. Our immune system is preoccupied with processing stress hormones, instead of its full defensive capacity allocated to warding off foreign pathogens.
With that in mind, do areas of your body that feel a bit heavy or sluggish, take on a new meaning
in your understanding? Might it be congestion in your tissues, which as it accumulates, adds more pressure / resistance for the pumping motion to work against and transport through your system.
Massage can help kick start the process of shifting things from areas that are stuck so that they can continue through the circulatory (lymphatic) system of the body to be dealt with. Moving is key for a greater sense of wellbeing and vitality. The Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi classes at our new studio space Feel Great are all about opening up your body for greater circulation and ease, releasing pressures from a hectic pace of life.