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Stressed Cavemen

A lot of patients ask will my low back or neck pain return?‘  The answer (as usual) is that depends, particularly as a lot of physical problems are linked to increases in stress levels.  The body is brilliant at coping with all the things we throw at it day-to-day, such as an unbalanced diet; working long hours; not taking time for yourself; not getting some form of exercise.  Problems come as the body has only so much capacity to absorb the abuse that we throw at it.

Life, for most of us, is currently very stressful and the level of stressors around us increases all the time e.g. pollution; reduced quality of food; changing work patterns; increased uncertainty in modern society.  No wonder our cave person (politically correct) bodies are struggling to keep up with this evolution, we just weren’t built to live like this!

The body’s’ in built stress responses were designed to help cave people deal with situations of imminent danger e.g. avoiding getting eaten by a woolly mammoth.  Our bodies however do not differentiate modern stresses from prehistoric ones, so we over use these stress responses in our daily life continually overproducing stress hormones (Cortisol and Adrenaline). 

Some of the prolonged effects of these stress hormones are:

  •         Decreased bone density
  •         Higher blood pressure
  •         Impaired cognitive performance (foggy thinking)
  •         Reduced immunity i.e. more coughs and colds
  •         Increases inflammatory responses in the body = pain
  •         Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with heart attacks and strokes

It is your body and it needs a bit of help!

Increased stress tends to mean we crave carbohydrates which are most easily available as sweets and chocolate.  The energy from these is short-lived and puts further strain on our adrenal glands increasing the problems above. The solution is to avoid these sugary snacks and replace them with foods that break down more slowly and therefore give us energy, spread evenly over a longer period of time. Foods like:

  •         Nuts (if you are not allergic !) e.g. almonds; brazils nuts; pistachios; chestnuts; coconuts
  •         Seeds  – easiest found in seed mixes containing pumpkin; sunflower; sesame and linseeds
  •         Raw vegetables  and  Hummous
  •         1 or 2 bits of fruit a day.  (Yes you should be eating vegetables for the rest of the minimum 5 a day.)

Also reduce the use of caffeinated drinks i.e. tea, coffee and energy / sports drinks and replace with water (ideally filtered), herbal teas (try Clipper or Yogi brands, they taste as good as they smell), coffee replacements e.g. Yannoh.  Even decaf has some caffeine in it and caffeine increases production of the stress hormones and affects sleep which can lead to reduced body repair.

Boring isn’t it! But you will feel better and your body will thank you.  You will also do something to help your health long-term and reduce joint pain therefore seeing the Chiropractor or Osteopath less regularly, consequently saving money. 

We stock Yannoh at Coast. If you haven’t already tried it, you are probably thinking ‘nothing substitutes coffee’ and I must agree. But Yannoh actually tastes good. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. We also have a very experienced Nutritionist – Sue Aston if you are interested in maximising what your body should be eating. And then of course, there are Anne French and myself, Stuart Dowden, to help to reduce your stress by improving the function of your body with either Chiropractic or Osteopathy.

Don’t suffer in silence. There is so much you can do to help yourself and we are here to help and support you either with information or therapy.

Written by Stuart Dowden, Osteopath.


Well done all you Brighton Marathon runners. What a great atmosphere from some great people.

It was my great privilege to try to help those runners that found their way to my portable massage table outside the clinic on Church Road. Interestingly – not one of my many patients that ran the Marathon needed my help. (Could it be that they already know how gentle I am with soft tissue work – or – that they are in such good shape?)
So much fun mixed with so much pain. Don’t know how many of you did it. Such conviction.

Congratulations and see you next year.

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