For most of us, certain areas of the body are more likely to build up tension and stress. Whether it’s our shoulders, neck, hips or lower back, it’s often personal – and time and again. We begin to know our areas of tension, as if we could spot freckles and moles that shape our bodies and even feel them before they actually take hold.
Tension can be physically uncomfortable, like a weight that keeps our muscles contracting. But what if that accumulation of stress in the body was more than just a knot of muscle tension? What if your body’s stress was also linked to your deepest feelings? Experts claim that the places where we hold tension are directly related to certain suppressed emotions.
What is tension in the body?
Tension is the result of muscles that remain contracted in the body for long periods of time. These tension points can often cause lumps in muscle tissue, also known as myofascial trigger points. Over time, these lumps can cause pain that is either tender to the touch or constantly radiating.
“Lumps are accumulations of lactic acid in the body that are caused by overcontraction of your muscles,” says Darragh Simon, owner of Trinity Wellness and a licensed massage therapist with over two decades of experience. “You may not notice your muscles contracting, but your shoulders crawl up to your ears and you tighten your jaw and when the muscles are tense the blood cannot flow freely into the area.”
Tense muscles are caused by mental stress, physical exertion, and poor posture. A lack of blood flow to these tension points in the body can make the situation worse.
The most common location for muscle nodes in the body is the trapezius, the triangular muscle that moves from the neck to the shoulders and upper back. Other areas of tension are common in the neck, hips, shoulders, and lower back.
“When you are stressed, you can also hold tension in the weakest part of your body,” says Simon. “For example, if any part of the body has experienced physical trauma, this is a place where tension may come first.”
How tension in the body is related to emotional health
According to Sean Grover, a psychotherapist and author, “Stress is a state of mental tension”. He says we have long known that tension in the body is symbolically linked to psychological stress, and age-old phrases like “you have the weight of the world on your shoulders” are a good example. What is less well known, however, is that wherever we experience stress in the body, much can actually be said about the various repressed emotions that we may carry around with us through life.
Here’s what excitedly to say about your repressed emotions.
Neck and shoulders
Tension in the shoulders is related to feeling burdened or burdened by too many responsibilities, Grover says. According to Simon, women have traditionally been more likely to have stress in their shoulders because they often counterbalance the weight of a multitasking master – working while remaining the main caregiver in a family. While the balance is shifting in many households, Simon says her practice still reflects this phenomenon. If you want to dive deeper into your shoulders, try this article on the reasons why your shoulder tension and emotions are so related.
Hips are often a place where we hold repressed sexual energy and tension. Tight hips can also symbolize stiffness or inflexibility, Grover says. If you want to learn more about what your tight hips are telling you, check out this article on the remarkable connection between tight hips and your emotions.
Grover says this is one of the most common problems he sees. The tension in the lower back, he says, is linked to suppressed anger. Patients may experience anger towards their boss or spouse, which manifests itself in the form of lower back pain.
Simons says that lower back pain is also linked to the root chakra, a yogic term for one of the seven spinning energy centers in the body. The root chakra is linked to fears of your basic survival and the needs for food, sleep, protection and security.
How to address tension in the body
While deep and soft tissue massages are a great starting point for relieving tension, for some it is not enough.
“Sometimes it’s just a pill that doesn’t address a bigger problem,” says Simon. “Many problems may require a more emotional component.”
Simon is a fan of cranial sacral therapy because, in addition to deep release of the fascia, it also offers somatic emotional release. When touched lightly, the doctor realigns the cerebrospinal fluid to bathe the nervous system and restore balance to the entire body. She also recommends Reiki, energy work that can help the body heal its own energy blockages.
According to Grover, a tripartite approach is taken to addressing mental tension and the physical tension that it creates. Therapy is a good start as you can use it to “train your psyche”. He also recommends doing cardio for 30 minutes at least three times a week. Cardio has been proven time and time again to significantly reduce anxiety and depression. Grover also says that yoga or some forms of deep stretching are important in helping you break up emotions that are held deep within the body.
Based on bio-authority
The remarkable connection between tight hips and your emotions
The reasons why your shoulder tension and emotions are so linked
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