Types of Stress in Physics


There are different types of stresses that are studied in Physics. Stress is defined as a force acting per unit area. It is a physical quality. The mathematical representation of stress is:

Stress = (force)/(unit area)

σ = F/A


σ is the stress

F is the force acting in N

A is the unit area in m2

Therefore, the unit of stress is N.m-2 or Pascals (Pa).

Types of stress

Following are the types of stress that we study in Physics:

  • Normal stress: Normal stress is defined as the stress experienced by an object where an axial force is applied per unit area. The stress is applied perpendicular to the body. The SI unit of normal stress is MPa. The mathematical representation of normal stress is given as below:

            σ = P/A

  • Longitudinal stress: Longitudinal stress is defined as the stress when there is a deformation along the length of an object. It is given as:

Longitudinal stress = (Deforming force)/(Unit area)

Longitudinal stress is classified into two:

  • Tensile stress: Tensile stress is defined as the force acting per unit area such that there is an elongation in the length of the object.
  • Compression stress: Compression stress is defined as the force acting per unit area such that there is a compression of the object along its length.
  • Tangential stress: Tangential stress is defined as restoring force per unit area that is developed due to applied tangential force.
  • Hydraulic stress: Hydraulic stress is applicable to fluids and defined as the internal force per unit area.
  • Volumetric stress: Volumetric stress is defined as stress that acts on three directions such that all the three directions are uniformly loaded.

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