How to Reduce Stress-Related Pain and Muscle Tension

According to WebMD, muscle tension caused by stress, if left untreated, can lead to tension headaches. The main symptoms of muscle tension are stiff and achy muscles in the upper half of the body, often including the neck and jaw. If you find your muscle tension is debilitating in any way, it is best to consult your doctor. For general muscle tension, there are many alternative approaches.

  • Move more (every hour for a minimum of three minutes)
  • Meditation (10-30 minutes before bed can improve sleep quality)
  • Exercise (can reduce pain and tension)
  • Gentle stretching (to reduce tone)
  • Warm-up. Three to five minutes of gentle movement such as walking or marching in place. This increases circulation and core muscle temperature.
  • Stretch only to the point of gentle tension. Ease into the stretch as you feel your muscle relax. You should never feel pain when you stretch.
  • Hold the stretch in a comfortable position; the feeling of tension should subside as you hold the stretch. Do not bounce.
  • Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds.
  • Feel the stretch. If the tension becomes greater as you stretch, you are overstretching. Ease off into a more comfortable position.
  • Breathe slowly and naturally. Do not hold your breath.

It’s important to consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program, especially if you’ve had any recent physical problems, musculoskeletal or personal history (or if you’re not sure), or have experienced any pain.