Do you have space for recovery? Your body is like a pulley system. One muscle pulls, the other pulls. When one is held for a particular position for too long, there is compensation. Tension can apply to emotions, the mind and the body. Do you have unresolved trauma? When unresolved, it breaks the body down in many ways including the immune system, athletic performance etc. Find out more on this podcast. Look out for the Embodied Recovery sessions where we give you tips on how to manage tension.
So today we will talk about tension. I have been talking about tension a lot in clinic and to our athletes whether regardless of whether they are athletes or non athletes stay, I’m always talking about tension as a pulling force within the body. So the tension I’m talking about can be mental tension, can be emotional tension, can be physical tension, can be repressed tension, can be tension force when you’re training and can be tension forces that is in three dimensions, three, or maybe even four dimensions. We’re talking about moving from one space into another space it’s usually about transmitted forces. And what I find that a lot of times when we were talking about that a lot of people hold tension in their bodies and in your nervous systems why that happens. It could be a couple of things, namely, stress, someone fright flight freezing frozen is are for others.
One thing I would share with you what I saw today First, all right, some of the things I saw today, people knowing how to inhale and hold their breath, and not knowing how to exhale, that’s when they stop exhalation. And if the body has too much carbon dioxide, the body starts to suffocate.
So just recently, lastly , I got me to a hospital for pneumothorax. That is the condition for it’s not really a condition but more like an event where your lung collapse. So I was in a theater and I only had local anesthetics, I was not sedated. So I was pretty much quite aware of what was going on. And so one day made an incision, they were trying to put a tubing so the tube is to drain the air out the excess air out. They couldn’t quite, you know, shot the tubing because my intercostal muscles were so tensed, they actually had a bit of a problem. And I could actually feel the pain up to my shoulder. So that’s just an example where I was actually very nervous having a tube being put in and I could feel a doctor trying her best to put the tube in but she said that intercostal muscles were buried .
Yeah, so that’s just one example for me.
I was speaking to one of my friends just now. And she says that she’s stressed from work. Yeah, so try shaking it all at work. Yeah, bouncing on the spot or being soundscapes .
Dr Shermain Wong is a seasoned chiropractor with particular expertise in Sports Medicine and a passion for the benefits of in ‘Active Release Technique™ (an advanced Soft Tissue Technique developed by Chiropractors). She is professionally trained in ART and has a Masters in Clinical Chiropractic from RMIT University. Dr Wong has provided chiropractic and movement rehabilitation services at international sporting competitions, and provided rehabilitation and training for professional dancers, professional football players and professional athletes.
She can be found at https://www.jurmainehealth.com.au/dr-shermain-wong/
Episode 022: Tension
Podcast brought to you By Jurmaine Health
This is Jurmaine Health, the center to help you achieve wellness in both your brain and body. We endeavor to encourage cross communication between health professionals for your health and well being. We bring you topics on neuro psychology, neuro behavior, neuro musculoskeletal, neuro gastro, movement is well being, metabolism and microbiome, which are also some of the services that we provide.
Hi, good afternoon people. My name is Shermain, I am Dr. Shermain Wong from Jurmaine Health. I almost forgot where I was from then. We have got Lingy today with me and myself. Lingy would be helping us with some questions so myself with some questions as a layperson would ask some questions. Today we would have myself only because Cera is away. And also Jackie is away for this session, and it's a filler session for an in between. So, in between the next two next couple of podcasts about back pain. So today we will talk about tension. I have been talking about tension a lot in clinic and to our athletes whether regardless of whether they are athletes or non athletes, I'm always talking about tension as a pulling force within the body. So the tension I'm talking about can be mental tension, can be emotional tension, can be physical tension, can be repressed tension, can be tension force when you're training and can be tension forces that is in three dimensions, three, or maybe even four dimensions. We're talking about moving from one space into another space it's usually about transmitted forces. And what I find that a lot of times when we are talking about that a lot of people hold tension in their bodies and in your nervous systems why that happens. It could be a couple of things, namely, stress, someone fright, flight, freezing, frozen is are for others.
I've actually experienced that.
Yep. Yeah. I'm sure you have. So that's one thing as well. That's another thing as well. What do you, I mean, what have your experienced?
So just recently, last week, I got admitted into hospital for pneumothorax. That is the condition for it's not really a condition but more like an event where your lung collapse. So I was in a theater and I only had local anesthetics, I was not sedated. So I was pretty much quite aware of what was going on. And so one they made an incision, they were trying to put a tubing so the tube is to drain the air out ,the excess air out. They couldn't quite, you know, shove the tube in because my intercostal muscles were so tensed, they actually had a bit of a problem. And I could actually feel the pain up to my shoulder. So that's just an example where I was actually very nervous having a tube being put in and I could feel the doctor trying her best to put the tube in but she said that intercostal muscles were very tensed.
Yeah, so that's just one example for me.
Speaking of tense, very tense intercostal muscles, not just in I mean, anyone who is going through surgery or about to be incised will have tension. Because it's not one of those things that you really want to have happening to your body, right?
A lot of times that tension can translate over to post surgery fear, post surgery concerns and worries and being an emotional state like in lock down. So when that happens, the body carries a lot of pressure, because it's trying to protect yourself essentially. So the nervous system is trying to protect itself. However, that creates a little bit less space for recovery to happen. And then chronic pain happens on not just that we have got things like antibiotics we've got medication that just wipes out the entire flora of the gut. That will create tension as well in the body when we don't have the space for recovery, this kind of tension will keep repeating itself.
So it's almost if you think about your body like a pulley system, right, one muscle pulls the other follows the other muscle pulls another one follows. And the bone reacts in the same way as well. When one is being held in a particular position for a bit too long, then what you see is compensations. When you see the compensations, it's purely musculoskeletal, then it's purely musculoskeletal, then the resolution will be quite fast.
However, if you�re talking about anywhere near the thorax, we are looking at tension and could be unresolved whiplash, could be unresolved fear could be unresolved stress, could be unresolved worries, anxieties, and, and trauma. Those are equally important to remember that we have, if we have difficulty with that, it builds up within the mental system and eats away at physical health.
When it's unresolved, it breaks the body down in many number of ways, we break down, in the body's capability to have a good immune system doesn't allow for a person to perform well. And, more importantly, because it's, because when the tissues are already so in such a wound up position, the fascia transmits information to the brain faster than neural impulses. And that would be what the tissues are saying to the brain. So hey, I am in this position. I do not want to move from this position. And because anything else that I'm not comfortable with, I will not move out, immobilize myself. That's what the tissues is essentially is doing.
So what that means is that if a person who is suppressing emotions or have repressed emotions with tension that your movements will almost always be suppressed to. Okay? And if that's the case, what happens and how are we going to recover from that is we can�t recover from it unless the brain, the body, the heart, the environment, the gut and all recovering both all, either simultaneously or there is an attempt to heal from that space. And that's what we try to do for a lot of our clients and as well as athletes too. So, in effect, tension, unresolved tension can have a very, a lot of negative impact on both in mental, physical and emotional health.
Can you maybe give examples of the negative impact?
Some negative impacts are these. So today after work, actually during work, I had about four people having difficulty breathing.
That's actually a very big one people. Yeah. I also recently talked with a friend.
Yeah. So she also mentioned about stress and breathing. So I guess that's also early start from tension maybe. Yeah. So perhaps if you could tell us more about, you know, the negative impacts and, you know, what are the tips that we can probably counteract tension a bit?
One thing I would share with you what I saw today First, all right, some of the things I saw today, people knowing how to inhale and hold their breath, and not knowing how to exhale, that's when they stop exhalation. And if the body has too much carbon dioxide, the body starts to suffocate.
Okay? So if they're not exhaling, does that mean that they're just holding breath?
No, they're just inhaling there's so much oxygen, right? And then they're not expelling air fast enough. That's one. The other one is a person quite often I've seen this, especially these couple of days, is that a person will be able to barely breathe, do belly breathing like summer breathing. However, their lungs don't inflate completely. So their ribs are not inflating completely as well. A lot of times when a person has got troubled breathing, one of, a couple of things can happen. One is the neck, the neck becomes really tight. The jaw becomes really tight. Sometimes they feel like Oh, why do they have headaches? Or why do they have locked jaws, or why do they have constant like migraines, so that is quite common.
And what about the shoulder?
And then the shoulders start to, because the ribcage compensates, and then the shoulder starts compensating. So you have this whole cascade of shoulder, neck, ribs, lung complex. And then people go to me and say, oh, I can't do lifting overhead. I go well really, of course you can�t lift overhead because you have all these things that are happening to you. So that's one thing and the next breath experiences they seem to have is that they can't link their breath properly. However, they are very good at holding their breath all these people are usually very good at holding their breath they can hold their breath for a very long time
For bracing, especially in weightlifting
No, no, just not in life in general. So they are able to do that. They're able to hold their breath for a really long time, but they're really suck in inhalation and exhalation.
What do you mean by linking?
Linking means when they are breathing, there's a smoothness in inhalation and transition and smoothness into exhalation, full inhalation and full exhalation. Sometimes they just stop half way. After the first exhalation is an inhalation and exhalation then they stop.
And then you have got to remind yourself to inhale, exhale again and then stop. I'm not talking about sleep apnea where the esophagus conscious collapses on itself. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is just in consciousness, you're not sleeping. And you're being asked, you're being taught to breathe. You're being asked to breathe as one of your rehab protocols. So when that happens, I'm like, well, you have got to breathe because if you're not breathing, you're turning blue.
You're holding on too much carbon dioxide in your body and therefore you cannot move. So you can, you know, you can use in that instance when a person walks in, a way, and then you use things like trigger point therapy, you can use what is that called, you know, RockBlade or you can use any of the, you know, assisted soft tissue instruments, that's not going to work. It doesn't matter, because the shoulder is not the issue. It's the lungs and the neck that's the issue. And these are tension patterns that people are holding on for dear life. And we will try to, resolve them, and we do have some ways of resolving them.
We are about to host several workshops. It's called Embodied Recovery. And these are workshops that will help people understand why their body is behaving the way it is. It does and why their bodies are locked down into the way it is. So those workshops are coming up soon. We have moved one from February next week to, because it's Chinese New Year into March and April. So you've got to look out for that.
This tension thing is quite important for even young people to know. So I have I have had a number of people coming in. I have, I don't have tension. I'm not anxious. I say sure. Can you relax your leg? No, I can't. Can you? Are you able to relax your neck? No, no, I can't. I usually don't have tension. No, I don't I say do you have a jaw issue? No, I don't have a jaw issue. So can you relate to your jaw? No, I can't. So everyone has difficulty relaxing. And they tell me that they don't have tension. How can that be? It is impossible to not have tension and not being able to relax at the same time, those two things don't happen at the same time. So that's where we are at for with tension for today.
Are there any tips that may be you know, one that you have for � ?
One really good way of releasing tension is to, it�s emotional, mental or mental or emotional or mental. It's very useful to isolate what, where that is and how it has come about. And it's not about resolving it all at once.
It's about acknowledging it, that it is there is like for example, if it's fear, is a fear for you in fear of the incision for fear of having the tube placed between your ribcage. It's about talking through it as well. So I know that this needs to happen was the worst that can happen. How can I acknowledge this is going to happen and it's going to what is it going to do for me? Is it going to be helpful? Is it going to be unhelpful, most of the time, that's what that's where the tension is happening.
But if you're talking about you know, traumatic pain like external traumatic pain, then of course, it's a different matter altogether. If you're talking about in acute you know, straight out from acute wards and things like that, well, those kind of scenarios, we're waiting for the body to just recover on its own first before we release any tension. If we are interfering with the body's own recovery rate, we are going to be very disappointed.
At that point in time, we are only wanting to resolve it by helping out with a lot of soft issues, a lot of articular motions, a lot of breathing patterns, and less so about helping that person help themselves release tension. It has got to be quite, it's a passive way. By passive meaning that someone is having a clinician or someone�s helping you with your body. If it is an active way, that means that they are being guided and it's a bit of a DIY. So that will work their way on I, what I sometimes teach people to do is ask them to do a lot of bouncing around for not bouncing around. Bouncing on the spot for about a minute. 30 seconds to a minute,
So, like skips.
Skipping is one thing. Yeah. Short ballistic movement that means you pass on this one quite fast. Yeah. And before as I said about a minute. That's how a lot of animals do that. They just shake it off, right? Just shake it off right like Taylor Swift. Shake it off.
It's a bit like that.
Could that apply to someone who could be stressed from work?
So you hear that? I was speaking to one of my friends just now. And she says that she's stressed from work. Yeah, so try shaking it all at work. Yeah, bouncing on the spot or do some skips.
So because that's one of the fastest way to release tension, instead of thinking about, I've got to go into meditating and breathing and, some meditating helps. Some don't. Some people prefer to use running as meditation. Yeah, some people prefer to use yoga as meditation and there's a lot of movement in that space. Some people, I use weightlifting as meditation, meditation and movement. Tai Chi is a form of meditation as well. Whatever you, that you find yourself doing and getting you into a particular zone and moving the body that will be very useful. However, if it's over done, it may not be, it may back fire as well, because it's it can also be training your body into the habitual pattern of tension recognition.
Yeah. But that's another topic for another day.
Yeah, I see what you mean.
Yeah, if you do something too much, even though it's too good, it can be a bad thing. Of course, yeah. too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing exactly. Too much of one thing can be a bad thing. Too much of too many things can be a bad thing.
Okay, so we have one of the members in our The Embodied Athlete group, well she mentions that she wants to improve on her sleep. Have you got any suggestions for her?
It depends on what her sleep entails. So we need to know what that sleep is like. First before we are able to give useful, purposeful answer.
Okay. So you hear that I'm not going to name names but yeah, so just ask Shermain the next time you get a treatment from her.
Yes, totally. That would be the best way. It's like, because people when they sleep, it could be in many different things it could be like, for example, for me, I can't sleep when I drink bubble tea, or I don't really drink bubble tea, but for example, I drink tea or bubble tea after 6pm
Is that because there is caffeine?
Caffeine and sugar but last, for example, last night, I was out late, and I had a coffee at 10
And I can fall asleep quite easily. That's not an issue or non issue for me, but that could be an issue for someone. But if I had like wine you know, like one glass of wine, like past seven, I can't sleep because of the sugar content but that's how I am like when it comes to sleep efficacy. Do I need, for some people, it's okay for them to sleep in a warm room but everyone else needs a... For other people, they have got to sleep in a really dark room, that's absolutely devoid of light. Some people don't need that some people if they're tired, they just sleep anyway. Okay.
So self awareness is very important in other words.
So what is important and if you ask me, if you ask questions, that is pertaining to, largely yourself, how to improve your own sleep, then it is quite individualistic.
Yeah. So it's something that needs to be answered on a personal level. So it's not a general blanket tip that you know Shermain can give you. No, yeah, so you got to ask her personally.
It's just like how we don't talk, we don't do exercise videos, because there are so many exercises out there, you can pick and choose on YouTube, Instagram, wherever you want to. However, we don't do it for the sole reason of one thing: I don't know if you're going to execute it properly, we don't know if you're going to execute it properly. We don't know if you're going to execute it correctly for your body type. We don't know if that if x y z exercise is useful for you and where you are in your phase of recovery. So we don't know.
So that's the reason guys, why Jurmaine Health doesn't put up exercise videos, tapes, and, you know, comments or suggestions on how to improve things. Because it's fairly, very individualized.
Yeah. So one person can come in here with well, we talked about back pain so many times, it's like don't people come in here with back pain? Yeah, it's likely that eight people will look quite different and two people will look somewhat similar. Yeah, so how am I gonna? How will I be prescribing them the same activity? All or for all of them? It's very unlikely.
And why that is different, because that is very time consuming. Because we're not printing out a template and giving you a template, we're not. Because we wouldn't know if it's because of your abs is because of your thorax. Is it because of your, you know, I don't know glutes. Is it because of your hamstrings your quads or, or because you don't have dorsiflexion in your ankles, we will not know or because you have bad gut health, we wouldn't know. So we can't quite consciously within our conscience or in good conscience, provide that for a person.
Now that's fair enough totally.
A lot of people take that for granted commonly. So that's why and now we are explaining it over the podcast. That's the reason. And also different people heal and recover at different rates.
Yeah, totally. Is there anything else that you would like to add before we end our session today?
Yeah, I'm pretty happy about what we have for today.
Ask us some questions if you'd like to know, certain other topics, or if you'd like us to discuss other topics. All right.
Thank you guys. Thank you, bye.
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