When you suffer from anxiety your body releases stress hormones which can cause the muscles in your body to contract stronger than usual. This is in response to your body’s fight or flight reflex and the aim of this reflex is to enable you to either fight off the threat or run away from it. Unfortunately if these hormones are not used up or reabsorbed it can lead to constant tension in your muscles.
Medication for treating high blood pressure or cholesterol can also cause muscle pain as can certain infections like the flu or malaria. Consult with your doctor to rule out any other easily treatable condition.
Muscle tension can make it painful to move, can disrupt your sleeping pattern and add even further to your anxiety. The best way to treat your muscle pain in to treat the anxiety which causes it. Psychotherapy and especially cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a very effective treatment for anxiety. It can teach you essential stress management skills as well as help you change your perceptions with regards to stress inducing people or situations.
Massage therapy is useful in relieving muscle tension and some types of massages you can even do yourself at any time and in any place.
Massage for neck tension
You can do this exercise right in front of your computer. Place your hands across your shoulders. Slowly exhale while you relax your head backwards. At the same time squeeze your fingers and your palms together across your shoulders, pulling the muscles of your shoulders and your back upwards towards your neck.
Resting your elbows on the desk, drop your head slightly forward. Use your fingertips in small circular movements to massage your neck from your shoulders up the base of your skull. Massage deeply on both sides of your spine.
Intertwine your fingers on the back of your head. Slowly relax your head forward feeling the weight of your elbows as you gently stretch your neck and back muscles.
Massage for shoulder tension
Use a tennis ball, a solid rubber ball or if you are desperate even an apple or orange will do.
- Squat slightly with your buttocks against a wall, feet hip width apart.
- Lean slightly forward allowing just enough space to place the ball between you and the wall at shoulder height.
- Slowly stand up allowing the ball to massage the muscles along your spine. Stop when you find a tender spot and wait for the pain to be relieved.
- Once you are standing up straight, slowly reverse the exercise until you are back in the original squat position.
- Place the ball on the other side of your spine and repeat the massage.
The tensing and relaxing of your leg muscles as you slowly sit down and stand up will help to relieve possible leg tension as well.
Massage for lower back tension
In a standing position place your hands on your waist with your thumbs to the back and your fingers to the front.
- Using your thumbs gently massage the muscles to the sides of your spine. Do not press on the spine itself.
- Move your thumbs up, down and in small circles while pressing firmly down into the muscles. Spend more time massaging tender spots.
- Gradually move your thumbs up on both sides of your spine as far as you can comfortably reach. Then slowly move back down again to your starting position. End off by firmly pressing on the bony structure of your sacrum.
These massage exercises should relieve the tension in your muscles and leave you feeling more relaxed. Feeling relaxed can help you to cope better with your anxiety while you are in the process of defeating it completely.
“Massage Therapy for Stress Relief and Much More.” WebMD. [No date] WebMD. (November 28, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/massage-therapy-stress-relief-much-more?page=2
Vorvick, Linda J; Zieve, David. “Muscle Aches.” Healthcentral. 2009. Healthcentral.com. (November 28, 2012) http://www.healthcentral.com/cold-flu/flu-symptoms-17897-1.html?ic=506019
“How Worrying affects the Body.” WebMD. [No date] WebMD. (November 28, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/how-worrying-affects-your-body?page=2