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Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

Different clinical approaches to stress

Written by   Posted in:Stress management   June 16, 2016

Different clinical approaches to stress
Nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find someone who said they weren’t stressed! This month our Uxbridge practitioners have teamed up to put together a summary of what a multi-disciplinary approach to a patient suffering from stress would look like. We hope you enjoy the first in our series of collaborative blogs on specific health conditions:


Your osteopath will initially focus on identifying a 'stress'- based posture - this often consists of raised shoulders due to overactive upper back and neck muscles with a rounded shoulder and forward head posture. Muscular imbalances at the front and back of the torso are established and stretched or strengthened accordingly.  
Another key part of treatment is to reduce sympathetic outflow - the part of the nervous system responsible for the 'fight or flight' stress response. This is primarily located in the mid-back - an osteopath can assess any dysfunction in this area, helping to re-align a vertebral level that may be restricted or overactive. 
Additionally, breathing exercises are taught to encourage deep diaphragmatic breathing which increases oxygenation to the tissues and organs, helping them to function optimally.

Massage therapy:

Massage is incredibly effective in relieving chronic tissue tension that builds up in muscles, often manifesting as 'knots'. It has also been shown to help reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. A session of a deep tissue massage can cause many biological changes to the body, including the relaxation of muscles, increased circulation, reduction of pain and lowering of heart rate.

The Alexander Technique:

The Alexander Technique has long been recognised as a powerful method in increasing personal performance. Its ability to appeal to the student's powers of originality and reasoning can help us release the tension that so many of us hold in our minds and in our bodies. By learning to remove the 'interference' that so many of us put into our every day activities, we can reduce tension and open the door to freedom and ease of motion.  With regular treatment this encourages the body and mind  as a whole to relax and heal. 

The Interactive Teaching Method of the Alexander Technique involves lessons in groups (max 8 -10 people) or individually and lessons take place 'in activity' so a lesson can be in sitting, standing, getting out of a chair, speaking, playing an instrument or any other activity that the student wants to do. The teacher will interact with the student verbally and via the use of hands. The latter involves a gentle touch to help the student use themselves more effectively in activity”.


In Traditional Chinese philosophy health is dependant on the bodies motivating energy, known at qi, moving in a smooth and balanced way through channels beneath the skin. Stress can act like a traffic jam blocking the free flow of qi in the body. Through acupuncture these energy blockages can be addressed helping energy to flow smoothly and bringing the body back into balance. From a biochemical perspective acupuncture works on stress by stimulating the nervous system . The resulting biochemical changes helps the body's homeostasis or balancing mechanisms so promoting physical and emotional wellbeing.


Blood sugar balance is one of the key areas that a nutritionist will usually focus on when addressing stress. Stable blood sugar means a reduction in the production of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol (this is the hormone that usually gets realised during long term stress and causes us to store fat around the middle). One of the easiest ways to ensure your blood sugar is balanced is by ensuring you eat protein with every meal. This is particularly important in stressed individuals as the production of stress hormones drains the body of its protein reserves.
We also use functional testing to determine client’s cortisol levels if we suspect that these are having a detrimental effect on the person’s health in terms of immunity, weight management or hormone balance. The Adrenal Stress test is a non invasive saliva test which involves taking samples at four key points in the day. Once we have these results we can develop an appropriate protocol to support the adrenal glands back into balance.

Counselling and psychotherapy:

Counselling and psychotherapy helps people to deal with stress by looking at the root causes of the stress response, and breaks down the issues into more manageable chunks giving the client an opportunity to look at what is going on with a fresh pair of eyes. This enables the client to find a different approach to managing and dealing with their problems.

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