By Lisa Adams
In my practice, I often see diagnoses such as chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression and PTSD grouped together or as co-occurring disorders. There is a good reason for this…they are all related to chronic tension patterns that develop as a result of repeated stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight response.”
Our body creates “tension” in response to a stressor. A stressor can be something physical, mental, emotional or chemical. Our body is so amazing and efficient at protecting itself; our body prepares us for survival in response to these stressors.
The stress response goes something like this:
Our brain receives the message that we are experiencing a stressor; this message then goes to the emotional processing center of our brain called the amygdala, which then sends a distress signal to the rest of the body via the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is our brain’s main command center, which produces a well-orchestrated hormone cascade that prepares our body for an emergency.
This hormone cascade consists of large and steady surges of adrenaline, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine and cortisol that produce physiologic changes in our body to keep us ready to fight, flee or freeze! Changes such as increased blood pressure, increased mental alertness, increased heart rate, increased muscle tension and decrease in digestion allow our body to remain stable in a real life- threatening situation.
This response is meant to last anywhere from 2-48 hours, and once the threat is gone, our body should return to its natural state of rest, digest and reproduce. This response is directed by our parasympathetic nervous system, which works in opposition of our fight or flight response, which is directed by our sympathetic nervous system.
Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body. Remember, this response is meant to be temporary, as it requires a lot of energy and effort from all of our body’s systems including cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, digestive system, endocrine or hormonal system, and immune system, as well as changes to the brain’s ability to process input efficiently.
The hormones that are released during a stress response are very helpful in keeping our body ready to fight or flee; however, prolonged release of these hormones can result in damage and severe fatigue to our body. Prolonged increase in muscle tension causes inflammation and eventually lactic acid to build up in our muscles and tissues. This causes stiffness, weakness and fatigue, which then puts strain on our joints, producing even more inflammation, stiffness and fatigue, not to mention lack of mobility.
Adrenaline, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine are hormones that keep us alert and are very necessary in a life-threatening emergency; however, it can be very detrimental to our health if this response fails to shut off and reset after a difficult situation has passed. The result is chronic increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which causes damage to our heart muscle as well as damage to our vascular system such as atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). This chronic stress response also signals our body to produce extra cholesterol and insulin, which compounds the damage as they both produce inflammation that leads to arteries and vessels getting blocked.
The other result of these particular hormones being released steadily and failing to shut off is the body’s inability rest or sleep. Lack of sleep or lack of restful sleep is one of the most common complaints I hear from my practice members. This is very detrimental to our body’s ability to heal and regenerate cells as our natural cell regenerating process (immune system function) occurs during our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep state. If this process of regeneration is not occurring on a regular basis, our immune system is operating at half capacity at best or not functioning at all. It is very difficult for a body to heal while in a constant state of tension.
As you can see, if a person is unable to stop this fight or flight response and return to a state of ease, the results can be crippling. Forms of bodywork such as massage, chiropractic and acupuncture can be helpful in relieving the symptoms associated with chronic tension patterns related to prolonged or unhealthy stress response. However, they are temporary. As long as a person’s brain continues to react to stressors (these can be real or perceived or even triggered by a memory such as a sound, a smell or a feeling), the stress response will continue. Flowtrition allows the body to change this response via the nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which is our body’s central control.
It is my experience that most often practice members who suffer from the symptoms of fibromyalgia, PTSD and chronic pain disorders have also suffered some mental, emotional and/or physical trauma at some point in their life. I see their bodies that have become so quick and efficient to respond to any stressor (real or perceived), that they often NEVER step out of flight or fight response mode. This results in symptoms such as pain and muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, joint stiffness, mental fog and generalized chronic fatigue. As you can see, it only makes sense that these symptoms exist. They are messages to the body that it is struggling to maintain stability and needs support.
Flowtrition is a form of bodywork and process, which helps our body to change its response to stressors through direct communication with our nervous system. This is done with a very specific, gentle touch along the spinal column, which is where our spinal cord receives messages from the brain and then sends messages to the body to direct the response to stress (tension). By retraining our nervous system to get OUT of the fight or flight response and back into a state of ease, the body is able to drop tension naturally and begin to heal and regenerate cells as it is intended to do. When this process is allowed to happen, the symptoms mentioned above dissipate and eventually go away. This means that the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, chronic pain disorder and PTSD are no longer relevant.
I have seen amazing changes such as decreased pain, muscle tension and stiffness, improved sleep patterns, improved digestion and a decrease in anxiety/depression and improved mental clarity in my practice members who have experienced regular Flowtrition sessions. If we trust in the body’s ability to heal and regenerate cells and provide the best atmosphere for this to happen, the human body can overcome many challenging circumstances and produce amazing change.
Lisa Adams is a Certified Flowtrition Practitioner, nurse and health and wellness educator who has combined over 24 years of experience as a registered nurse with training in Flowtriton as well as therapeutic massage and bodywork to provide her clients with the most comprehensive and holistic approach to preventive healthcare. Lisa believes that wellness starts from within and that if we have trust in our body’s ability to heal as it is designed, amazing things happen. She also believes that optimal health is achieved in a multi-system approach that includes body, mind and spirit. Lisa’s passion to increase awareness in individuals about the way their body functions. This is essential to making changes.
Being a Flowtrition practitioner is the one vehicle that has allowed Lisa to connect with so many by tapping into all of these systems simultaneously via the nervous system. She has witnessed the ability to get messages to “central control” (the brain and spinal cord) to allow systems such as musculoskeletal, digestion, reproduction and immune function return to a state of ease and cell regeneration which are both essential to prevent and heal “dis-ease.”
Spirit of Namaste Health and Wellness Center