5 Ways Mental Health Impacts Physical Well-being

  • 16th May 2023
  • Active Lifestyle, Tips

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so we thought we would take the opportunity to talk about mental health.

“Physio, do you think this is all in my head” – “absolutely not”; but how does our mental health affect our physical health? The answer is multifactorial, and I will try to explain what we see in clinic, and how we work with you to address these problems.

  1. Stress at Work / Financial Stress / Family Stress

All these triggers create tension in the body. Some of us hold stress in our shoulders and neck, other hold it in their hands and feet, and others hold it in their hips. This tension causes us to overwork some muscles and we then can move abnormally. This creates physical stress on certain areas which causes pain. As Physiotherapists, as well as treating you, our job is to identify these triggers so we can try to prevent further issues and help you control your body.

  1. Fear of Pain and Certain Movements

If you have had an injury that has caused severe pain e.g. bent over to pick up something from the floor and your back has gone into spasm, then there can be a lot of emotion and fear around bending in the future. “Will my back go again?” “If I just avoid bending, can I prevent future problems”. This response is completely normal. As a Physiotherapist, our job is to figure out why this movement caused the injury in the first place. Was it more to do with what you did in the lead up to the injury, or was it how you were moving? Once we figure that out we can problem solve preventing this happening in the future. Avoiding the movement is not sensible, as the more deconditioned the body gets to performing certain tasks, the more vulnerable the body gets. It is important to strengthen any weaknesses to ensure we are building resilience to future injuries in the body.

  1. Injury Recurrence

If we have had an injury to our knee in the past, if we have a similar injury, the knee (or more specifically the knees connections with the brain), can bring about a similar response to the initial injury as the body goes into self-protection. The new injury may be very minor but muscle memory kicks in and the bodies response can be similar. Our patients often worry that they have done something severe, but often they can just have reactivated the bodies injury response. Strengthening and normalising the movement around the injured body part is the answer so we can flood the brain with normal to prevent future abnormal responses. The brain is very clever and arms the body with self-protect responses, so it is a good job our Physiotherapists are a step ahead and are wise to the body’s tactics.

  1. Overloading the Body

Overload is a common cause of injury. We can overload the body either physically, with spikes of increased exercise, or we can mentally overload the body with long weeks at work and deprive the body of sleep to reset. If the body battery is low, we will not be moving optimally and body will be more tired, which can make us susceptible to injury. As Physiotherapists we hone into our patient’s injury threshold and try and help our patients to listen to the alarm bells our body gives off. Our body gives off alarm bells, but when life is busy, we can be really bad at listening to them. If we ignore them for too long, we can end up with injuries.

  1. An injury that prevents us exercising

We have a saying in clinic, or to be correct, I have pinched this from James!!! “Few people come to us because they are sore, but more often because they are unable to do something that is important to them”. The modern world, with its ever-increasing pace is very stressful, and lots of our patients use exercise as a means of destressing. When someone runs to clear their head and injury prevents them from running this can cause a huge amount of stress to our patients. As Physiotherapists we understand this, and our job is to try and find something that you can do. We do not want to be that person who says, “You can’t do……”, we want to help you find things you can do and work with you to put a plan in place where you can clearly see a path back to exercise.

In essence, all the above points are about working with our patients to help problem solve your bodies to get them back working again. More often than not, if we help you put normal in, we can help you get normal out. Whilst this may sound oversimplified, it is often when we try to work against our bodies rather than with them that they become problematic. The medical model of treating conditions is in the past. We have our patients at the centre of everything we do and are there to enable our patients to do the things that they love best.

We have a fab team of Physiotherapists who are there to enable you to do the things that you love. If you would like more information or you would like to make an appointment please contact 01224 900102, email info@spearphysiotherapy.co.uk or click on the link to access our online booking system.