How Stress Affects Recovery

Do you suffer from chronic stress? You’re not alone! In fact, many of us are victims of chronic stress. From hectic work days and dealing with traffic on your daily commute to being brand new parents or running a business, stress is certainly no stranger in most Americans lives. To our ancestors, stress meant being on alert for predatory animals. These days, the threats triggering our sympathetic nervous systems are not so much lions and tigers and bears, but being late for work, burning the bread in the oven, or making sure the kids made it home from school safely. While the factors that cause our stress have certainly changed, how our bodies deal with that stress is still very much the same—and that is how problems can arise.

It’s no secret that stress can have some pretty negative effects on the body. Muscle tension, hyperventilation, elevated blood pressure, raised cortisol levels, acid reflux, migraines – this list goes on and on. So for someone who has recently experienced an injury who also deals with chronic stress, such as a college athlete or mother of five, the process of healing may take much longer than expected. Even planned procedures such as surgery understandably mean quite a bit of anxiety, and it’s this stress which could mean the difference between a fast recovery and prolonged pain.

According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, participants who had a significant amount of psychological stress also had a slower recovery compared to those who didn’t. ¹ So what does this mean for you if you’re recovering from an injury? It’s time to relax – seriously! Take efforts to lower your stress levels. Not only will this help you while you heal now, if you’re conscious about how you handle your stress from here forward, you’ll lead a much less nerve-wracking life! Who doesn’t want that?

Whether it’s taking a bath, reading a book, meditating for 10 minutes every morning, or even enjoying a delicious homemade meal, make sure to take some time to yourself to wind down and reassess your feelings and your goals. For those who suffer from muscle tension, soreness, and chronic back and neck pain, consider ART® (Active Release Technique) and medical massage! Not only can targeting these trouble areas with direct and precise contact diminish pain, but it can also reduce stress.

Get on track to faster recovery and a healthier lifestyle! If you’d like to learn more about ART® treatments or Los Angeles medical massage, contact LA Orthopedic Sports Massage today!


  1. Matthew Stults-Kolehmainen, et. al., “Chronic Psychological Stress Impairs Recovery of Muscular Function and Somatic Sensations over a 96 Hour Period,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000335.