Five Essentials To Manage and Prevent Stress Related Injuries

It always fascinated me how people seem to have all these new symptoms 2 weeks before a major competition or deadline.  

There’s a science to it.  

Stress reduces your testosterone, it makes you more pain sensitive and creates neck and shoulder tightness, headaches and irritates your jaw...    

Let’s look a little deeper…  

You see, when there’s an increase stress, you also elevate salivary cortisol and inherently decrease the level of salivary testosterone. In a study conducted in 2012, there is a link between this inverse relationship (cortisol high and testosterone low) and an increase in pain sensitivity.  

So when that little bit of anxiety starts to kick in 2 weeks out...  


Your cortisol is higher and so to your sensitivity to pain.  

Now you know what happens on a hormonal level and the relation to how sensitive you are to pain.  

Why does this lead to neck, shoulder, headaches and jaw problems?  

It comes down to 3 common trends    

  1. Shallow/forced breathing patterns

  2. Underactive core (in the active population)

  3. Jaw pain from constantly clenching teeth    

Let’s break each one down...  

Shallow/Forced breathing patterns:  

So, it turns out we need oxygen. Your Autonomic Nervous System will force you to get air in somehow no matter what.  

But what happens when you’ve got a deadline approaching and your stuck behind the computer sitting in poor posture? Your rib cage is likely compressed unable to expand properly, but you still need to breathe right…  

Luckily there are some clever little muscles around your neck and shoulder which help the rib cage elevate. If you’re always sitting there stressing over spreadsheets with bad posture, these muscles have to work overtime. You start to overuse them and before we know it, your start getting an annoying pinchy shoulder or constantly tight neck.    

Underactive core:  

We breathe 20-30K times per day  

(that’s 2-3x more than the number of steps we’re meant to make).  

So you want to make sure you’re breathing properly...  


Our diaphragm (our main breathing muscle) is literally connected to our core, so you need it to instigate good core function and stability in through the trunk and pelvis. Without it, your core goes to sleep. You lose the stability you need through the trunk and pelvis to protect your lower back and allow you to pick things up without getting hurt.  

Jaw pain and constantly clenching teeth:  

It’s only natural to react this way to stress. But too much of it can cause all sorts of dental problems, bite symmetry issues, jaw muscular pain and thus headaches. A lot of people don’t realise how much their jaw issues impact the way they function - until they experience the effects of getting it released... And we treat the jaw way more often than you may think! 

So how do we prevent these issues from occurring the first place…  

Five Essentials To Manage and Prevent Stress Related Injuries  

  1. When stressed, get some treatment to help you address these issues

  2. Manage your stress by dropping less urgent tasks

  3. Don’t be a hero and ask for help (Even Batman needed Robin)

  4. Speak to an orthodontist and get a splint for your teeth so you don’t ruin your teeth

  5. Meditate (We love the Headspace App)    

Hope this helps!

Nick Papastamatis

Practice Leader

T: (02) 9899 5512 | F: (02) 9659 8180 | 


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