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Emotions Affecting Your Muscles

One common things you hear people say is "I carry my stress in my shoulders". Often times emotional trauma/stress can create a change in how the muscles respond in our daily lives. While massage therapy can provide temporary relief for these specific causes of tension, often we also need to treat the emotional triggers that cause this tension build up in the first place, otherwise the problems will just keep returning upon exposure.


The brain and nervous system are extremely complex and adaptive. While the emotional stressors/trauma may be the root cause, its a lot easier for your body to create a compensation such as a visceral response such as bloating, constipation, digestive issues and more, or create a response in the muscles. This means the organs/muscles take the blunt force of the issues to avoid the emotional issues affecting the nervous system. This emotional system is known as the Limbic system and it regulates our complex emotions.


Client example:

I had a client who said he was having no prior issues with his traps and shoulders. He was a little stressed and then the morning the day before our session he got an email that was very emotional and traumatic for him regarding something in his personal life. He noticed throughout the day his shoulders and both upper traps became tighter and tighter and felt like they were yanking down on his neck and in spasm. He used all his soft tissue self-care techniques which provided temporary relief but nothing long lasting.


When he came in the next morning things were still extremely tight and I asked if anything had happened that morning and he mentioned the email. I decided to have him go to a happy place in his mind and tested his upper traps and found they exhibited perfectly healthy response, then I had him think about that email and they completely collapsed and became very dysfunctional.


We corrected the emotional trauma from and the shoulder pain was gone and didn't come back upon following up with the client.


What you can do to help yourself between sessions to maximize results when seeing a P-DTR practitioner:

I tell clients one of the best things you can do is take notes of when an issue arrives and maybe what happened prior to that. Things can include:

  • Painful movement

  • Sounds

  • Physical trauma

  • Emotional stressors or trauma (no matter how small)

  • bright lights

  • food or drinks

  • certain kinds of touch, even breeze outdoors or by a fan

  • ect.

By working on these triggers or assessing specific movements that cause your pain to arise we can decrease how tension and dysfunction builds in the body.


Learn more about P-DTR here:


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