How many times have we heard of a lucky someone who “dropped out of the rat race?”
The rat race, the daily grind, the hamster wheel…all these expressions describe our day to day stress. Long commutes, high-pressure jobs, not enough sleep, balancing personal and professional lives are just but a few of the stressors that over time affect our emotional well-being, which in turn impacts our overall health.
How does this happen?
Let’s say it’s the middle of the week and you’ve been running on little sleep. To make matters worse, road construction or subway delays have been complicating your long commute, so you get to work late. And before you have a chance to get settled at your desk with a cup of coffee, your boss assigns you a demanding project with a crazy deadline that means you will need to work through the weekend. And here is the conflict: While you nod and smile, your body has automatically activated your fight-or-flight response mode sending you into a stress spiral.
What is the fight-flight response?
The fight-or-flight response is the reaction to a perceived attack or dangerous situation built within the nervous system. When confronted with a very stressful situation, our bodies switch on to this instinctive mode, which prepares us for battle or a hasty retreat. “But this response, once key to human survival, is rarely appropriate today,” says Michael Lodish, stress management counselor at Tru Whole Care. So, as you seem to accept your boss’s assignment gracefully, you are internally fuming, which turns on your fight-or-flight response. In short, your body is preparing you to either bash your boss over the head or run away, unaware that your mind has made a deal to suppress your anger and keep your job. Not surprisingly you wake up the next day with a backache.
Unable to respond in the manner written in your DNA, your body activates stress hormones that result in muscle tension. Dr. Robert Shire, a chiropractor at Tru Whole Care explains that when the muscles supporting your spine tighten, they can misalign vertebrae, affecting the spinal cord and adjacent nerve roots, causing you pain. “It’s important to remember that bones don’t move unless acted on by muscles, and muscles don’t contract unless commanded by the nervous system.”
Clearly if not handled properly, suppressing the fight-or-flight response comes at a price. In fact, during or following emotionally difficult times stress hormones (like cortisol and epinephrine) can ultimately weaken our immune system leading to susceptibility to colds and infections increases exponentially.
Breaking the cycle
Many caught in this cycle accept back pain and other stress-related issues as a fact of life, ignoring the cumulative impact of stress on their health.
But over the years we’ve seen many patients take a proactive approach and look for solutions to the stress that affects their emotional and physical well-being. These patients retire their back braces, heating pads and electronic massagers, recognizing they’re just band-aids that don’t get to the core of their problem.
Tired of living with pain, they decide to try to break the cycle and stop the corrosive long-term effects of stress by seeking out help.
Tru Whole Care
At Tru Whole Care we offer a 360 degree approach to the treatment of back pain. From a chiropractic perspective, patients are treated for the structural components of back pain: misaligned spines and tense muscles. At the same time, we provide our patients with the necessary tools to get to the emotional root cause of their problem through our Stress Management Counselor. This way, we are not only addressing our patients’ muscular pain, but also the stressors that trigger that pain.
Our experience is that treating both the pain and its underlying causes is the most effective approach to ensure our patients enjoy pain free lives.
Dr. Robert Shire has been a chiropractor for over 20 years treating a range of patients from expecting mothers to children, as well as taking care of athletes and desk jockeys. He is also a health coach covering topics in diet and lifestyle to compliment his chiropractic treatments. Dr. Shire speaks fluent French and plays the bass guitar—sometimes both at the same time.
Michael Lodish, MA has been practicing as a stress counselor at Tru Whole Care for seven years, seeing a variety of clients with a broad spectrum of stress issues. He is a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and completed board certification in biofeedback. Through his study of biofeedback, he has learned the physiological impact of stress that accompanies the natural impact on mood and emotional well-being.
To request an appointment with Dr. Robert Shire, Michael Lodish, or any other of our Tru Whole Care practitioners, please call 212-752-6770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or request through the online form.