Laugh your cares and pains away?

Enjoying a good laugh

Most people enjoy having a good laugh, it’s a sign of happiness and joy. Scientific research consistently shows that laughter is good for us in many ways. Benefits include improved circulation, strengthened immune system and an increased sense of physical and emotional wellbeing.

Prolonged laughter gives us a tough physical workout too. One of the reasons we may feel euphoric is because endorphins are released as we use with intensity, the muscles associated with laughter, particularly the diaphragm.

Psoas Muscle

Although we are probably aware of our diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs, we may not have heard about our psoas muscle. The psoas muscle (pronounced ‘so-as’) is the only muscle that connects our spine to our legs. It is located deep within the abdomen and attaches to the front side of the lumbar spine, runs across the front of the hip joint, and also attaches to the top of the femur. It is also attached to the diaphragm, so when we laugh heartily it gets a really good shake, which may be important for our emotional health.

Stress release

All mammals have a psoas muscle that is activated when the stress response is triggered. This enables the animal or human to fight or to flee and afterwards, a natural shaking or trembling occurs to clear physical tension and allow the body to return to a state of relaxation.

Although babies and small children will tremble shake when they are upset, most adults only exhibit this sort of response in stressful situations when extreme physical or emotional pain is present. Our social conditioning may have made us inhibit this natural response and consequently the psoas muscle may stay tight and constricted as we encounter stressful conditions in our daily life. This can lead to bad back pain and may be a significant factor with people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Laugh it off

Laughter is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety and perhaps the psoas muscle plays a more important role than has been previously realised. It may explain why some people find that they have an urge to cry, even though they don’t feel sad, during the deep relaxation provided in hypnosis, massage and laughter.

In a time when stress is ever present in our daily lives and we look for ways to relax and recover. Perhaps all we need to do is to have a good laugh! It might just save us from feeling unnecessary physical and emotional pain and put a smile on our face too :-)







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