Stress Loading Patient Handout

Stress loading is use of active traction and compression exercises to produce stress in the extremity with minimal motion of the painful joints. Stress loading follows the basics of exercise physiology: Your body adapts in response to demands placed on it. Your response to pain has been changed, so now any stimulus is interpreted as a painful stimulus. Stressful exercise is needed to override what has become "abnormally normal" for that area. An overload is required to achieve a training effect and to break the pain cycle that you and your body are experiencing. This means you need to do something to overload your neural, vascular, sensorimotor, and musculoskeletal systems to break the existing pain patterns your body is feeling.

basically, no pain no gain

Stress loading consists of two simple exercises:

  • Scrubbing is using a scrub brush with the affected extremity to apply as much pressure as possible using a back-and-forth motion. Ideally, you apply weight through the affected limb for maximum pressure and contraction of all your muscle groups. The clinician may make modifications to ensure that you are able to perform the scrubbing.
  • Carrying involves lifting and transporting a weighted backpack, suitcase, or purse in the hand on the affected side. You'll carry the weight throughout the day while you stand or walk. Your arm should hang down, so it swings normally as you walk. The weight of the bag should be at maximum tolerance; most people start with 1 to 5 pounds and add weight as their tolerance increases. Sometimes the handle can be built up, so the weight is comfortable in the hand.


You must take an active role in this treatment to achieve good results. Stress loading won't work if you don't load the extremity to produce the stress. You need to do the scrubbing and carrying exercises consistently, both in the clinic and at home. Your therapist may give you a log sheet to record your scrubbing and carrying to help you perform these exercises regularly.


By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to

Have a Question?

Do you have a question about chiropractic care, fitness or nutrition?  We would love to hear from you, and we might even turn your question into our next blog post!

Ask a Question

Blog Topics

Seek Chiropractor Health Sitting Posture Equipment Shoulder crawling plantar fasciitis #races functional chiropractor Yoga FoamRollingFriday Grand Opening Movement Soft Tissue Therapy lifting rehabilitation Body Awareness race #localfarmers patriotic Squats ICTrunning Core Strength WestWichitaChiropractor Healthcare Limitation Inflammation Wet Needling Squat PlantarFasciitis ChiropracticPhysician Fitness Rehabilitation ChiropracticOffice #KneePain Exercise BackPain Sitting Help conditioning #bellybreathing Lifting mechanics Shoulder Pain #hipstrength performance SportsChiropractor MRI Accupuncture home stretches Foam Rolling awareness Stop Light WichitaChiropractor Rhomboid Muscles chiropractors test GroupTraining gaming 5K Understanding Pain How to reduce pain tummytime Pain Management Home Stretches Adjustment Gym rhomboid muscles movement screen Mid-Back Pain Cupping Therapy weekend chiropractor parenting WSU Information #1millioncupsict Disc Herniation #somethingsbrewingict Pectoralis Muscles Lumbar Roll Acupuncture #deepsquat Company Announcements Rolling Patterns Wichita elbow pain GoTime RunningShoes pregnancy Heel Pain health SportsRehab HamstringStrain Strain Orthotics Running membership plan Conditioning allergies Chiropractic bodyweight adjustment esports sports #HipPain Healing stress Neurology squat knee health ICT Mechanics Latissimus Dorsi Massage motorpatterns toe functionality Insurance Top 5 1MillionCups Tension orthotics chiropractic Education 2018 #wholefoods community Compression Sleeves sara skiles entrepreneur Pain #Wichita kansas ShoeShopping pain management Elbow Pain myths dairy free inflammation BeginningExercise Physical Therapy Functional Core Self Help knee function Feet bodyawareness Taping Treatment Options stability crossfit knee pain healthcare Myths #growingwichita Inner Thigh FAQ tag2 Crossfit Breathing DryNeedling Myofascial Release wichita Handout childbearing #RunningPain #localbusiness Mobility Drill Glute Muscles Dry Needling seminar Payment Shoes Membership Plan postpartum disc herniation mental health Recovery running Low Back Pain doula culture guest blog development DNS treatment options Plateau foot complaint Nerve Pain Foot Pain #freemuscletherapy squats SportsInjury Fitness Class Toe sport injuries muscletherapy Cost Performance Headaches foot pain Sprinting Adductors FootExercise WestWichita Mobility Hip Flexors Conservative Care #FootPain knee joint physical therapy rollingpatterns #Running

Subscribe to Our Blog

Move HEALTHY.               Feel HEALTHY.              Live HEALTHY.