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YOU AND YOUR MUSCLES, TENDING TO YOUR POWER PLANT
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Nearly all training athletes experience some post workout muscle soreness. Non athletes and newcomers to physical exercise may wonder if it is even worth the agony. To people who are unaccustomed to the transient pain that often follows high intensity effort, and those with low pain thresholds, it may not be. To the committed veteran, elite athlete however, garden variety muscle stiffness, soreness and other soft tissue aches and pains are just an acceptable feature of the sport – like thorns amongst the roses. Moreover, a certain level of pain goes with the territory, and veteran athletes come to accept the post workout mix of fatigue and soreness as a sign that in the recovery, the body is assimilating, repairing and restoring to come back stronger, tomorrow or next week.

Macho stoicism can help you cope with such pain to a certain point, but even the toughest athlete performs better and is happier when the recovery passes rapidly and the sore, stiff feeling doesn’t linger. Here are some simple techniques for handling, managing and minimizing the distracting, if benign muscle pain virtually all athletes come to know in due course.


Distinguish:

Learn first how to tell the difference between pain that will go away promptly after a few ibuprofen and some rest and pain that has decided to take up long term residence in your body. If pain has taken a long time to build, slowly increasing in severity over time even though you’ve tried to ignore it, chances are, it will take just as long or longer to go away – assuming you will give it the proper care and rest. The worst that you can do is to try to banish the pain as an act of will. You will not recover from a chronic injury if you continuously repeat the trauma, whatever it may be and however subtle. You would think the idea is too, too obvious. Unfortunately, many athletes, especially those hooked on endurance training all too often allow the triumph of blind hope over experience and common sense.

Prevention:
Simple muscle soreness that fades after a day or so does indicate that your soft tissues are going through a training cycle in which, all else being equal, they will be stronger when they feel better. Trick is to train just hard or long enough so that the soreness does go away after a reasonable recovery, say, 24 to 48 hours. To enhance your recovery, always be sure you have plenty of water in your gut before, during and after every training session. The hotter the outside temperature and the more intense the training, the more important good hydration is. Especially when it is hot and humid and the effort is going to last more than an hour or so, do consider adding specific electrolytes before, during and after. They can keep you from cramping, bonking and just feeling crummy.

Warm ups:
Failure to ease into hard effort may be the most frequent cause of lingering muscle pain. Muscle fibers flex and stretch against one another in an infinite number of interfaces underneath those ripples. To work efficiently, they need to be thoroughly lubricated. When you warm up, that is what goes on inside your muscles and explains why you can make some muscle soreness go away by easing into a workout with a long warmup. Almost as important is a gradual cool down that keeps your heart rate up at a fairly high, albeit sub-aerobic level for at least a few minutes at the end of the session. That permitsthe blood to carry away the accumulated lactic acid in the muscle tissues, a biochemical cause of muscle soreness.

Stretching:
Although there are still doubters around, the general consensus among trainers and rehab specialists on the efficacy of stretching for athletes is in favor of it. If you stretch deliberately and regularly when the muscles are well warmed, it will enhance your flexibility and will probably reduce a lot of exercise related pain.

Drugs:
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are favored by many trainers and athletes for sore muscles and do seem to provide genuine, if temporary, relief. As a general rule, however, prudent athletes try to take these apparently benign, over-the-counter drugs only when they are really needed.

Massage:
firm, deep manipulation of your muscles before and after exercise will almost always make sore muscles feel better, and some times, under skilled hands the results are dramatic. If you are a serious, training athlete, seek out a good, regular massage therapist on whom you can call both before and after important races and training sessions.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President
The Pressure Positive Company®

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By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Overuse injuries, although they often seem quite straight forward, can be, in fact, quite complicated in that they are often caused by a combination of factors that vary widely from person to person. So, whether you are a weekend jogger and spend your work days at a desk or a bench or you are an elite, daily training, competitive athlete, there are some ways you can safely navigate around and through the many risk factors that will threaten your continued mobility, fitness, good health and longevity in the short or the long run.

So, as you make choices about your exercise, how often, how intensely and at what activities, here are some things to think about:

Form and style:
Much athletic coaching and training concentrates on the details of movement. If you are fortunate to have been taught by a skilled and experienced athletic instructor as a young person in, say, junior high or high school, you will have learned all about how to run, how to breathe, how to pace yourself. Now, as you may be contemplating your athletic renaissance, remember all that good advice and put it to use.

If you are just now starting from scratch, find a trainer or an experienced mentor coach or friend to help you get it right.Very often a local club is a good place to start with club runs or rides among contemporaries. Keep your eyes and ears open for tips on how to move smoothly and efficiently. In running especially, economy of movement follows form and style very closely and will minimize early fatigue that will in turn help to forestall injury from inefficient form.

Frequency in balance
One of the earliest decisions you may have to make is how often you are going to challenge your body in the activity you select.Be aware that one of the most serious risks in the early stages of most quality exercise programs results from an early excess of enthusiasm. It doesn’t take long for the beginner jogger or cyclist or walker or weightlifter to start feeling the uplifting effects of physical activity. You will know it by the giddy feeling of exhilaration and invincibility that recent converts often demonstrate while in the “honeymoon phase.” It is typically a happy time, but, as rewarding as regular exercise can be, it is not without its hazards. So it pays to be aware that injury can sneak up on you. Your best defense is to listen to signals from your body and to schedule your program so that you allow an appropriate amount of time for recovery after every effort. For a normal workout that may be only a day or for something extraordinary like a marathon, it might require a month before you are back to a normal.

Learning curve:
In time you will accumulate knowledge about your own limits and what works for you and what doesn’t.Always be open to learning more – more about yourself and more about everything that bears on your well being from diet to rest, stretching to cross training. Although exercise is not like neurosurgery in its intellectual demands, it greatly benefits from a basic academic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition and any sports medicine you can absorb. These days extensive research information is widely available on the Internet.

Taking your time:
Look first at your carefully structured plan to become permanently more fit and strong in the longer term. Consider the stepping stones towards whatever goal you decide to aim for. It may simply be to remain upright and moving for the next twenty or forty years.If you are aiming for something more dramatic and shorter term, your accelerated schedule will demand more intensity as well as more discipline and caution. In terms of your daily activities, try to get in the habit of easing into your training mode of choice with deliberate restraint. One technique that you may soon discover on your own will increase your endurance significantly: Simply warm up slowly for twenty minutes to half an hour before starting any demanding activity.

Muscle balance:
Every experienced athlete knows that the exercised muscle inevitably becomes stronger, and the unexercised muscle does not. Accordingly a sport in which only a limited number of specific muscles are engaged may leave you with neglected, relatively weaker muscles.That difference between opposing muscles can easily result in an imbalance that often leads to acute muscle strains and other injuries that are entirely preventable by a regular, balanced strength training regimen. Maintaining a basic muscle balance is not difficult and does not necessarily involve an extraordinary time commitment. At the outset, however you may have to alter your habitual routine in order, for example, to begin a twice a week weight training program.

With the help of a trained exercise therapist or athletic trainer, you can create a sequence of exercises appropriately tailored to your own, specific needs and goals.

Become an adventurer; mix it up:
Once you are in the habit of training regularly, you can start experimenting with new ways to add variety to your exercise that will enhance your enjoyment. Increase your resistance to overuse related injuries and improve the efficiency of your form. This approach is often referred to as “cross training.” In concept, cross training is simplicity itself: you exercise your primary muscles and allow plenty of time between workouts to allow your muscles to recover and repair; but instead of taking a nap, you go workout at something entirely different. Of course cross trainers can wear down, become plagued by chronic fatigue, reduce their resistance to colds and other infections, but by spreading the stress around your own, more vulnerable trouble spots, you reduce the risk that any one will break down.

Outlook and simple pleasures:
Always keep in mind that whatever you do to attain and protect your health and fitness, it should be something that yields you intrinsic rewards.That is pleasure from the sheer pleasure of the experience. Never let that thought go.Everything else is gravy.

In Good Health
(Bun)
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President
The Pressure Positive Company

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running

To many, perhaps most, of the under-achieving observers out there, it may seem that competitive athletes are an unfortunate lot.

To outsiders, the serious runner, cyclist or other high intensity athlete must appear continuously sore, aching, injured, misguided and masochistic, a driven, monomaniac, doomed to a short, miserable, lonely life. Maybe, but what cynics forget, cannot grasp or simply ignore is that, for the seriously competitive athlete, routine encounters with the physical realities of weather, the demands of training and racing, managing within personal physical and psychological limits offers, in return for the effort, incomparable resilience and mental balance.
Some might mistake such aplomb as smug contentment (a state easier to take from the inside, than from without, I am told.) But in fact, if you race or train for very long at any of the truly demanding, physical sports, you eventually develop what we might call coping skills as surely as you build up your wind or your quads.

Here are some ideas on managing and coping to think about as you slog along on your own journey.

SERIOUSNESS:
This is serious business. It is, after all, living, and, as far as we know, this is your only shot at it. So you should really try harder than just to make do. On the other hand, though serious, life need not be grave. Make yourself take your training seriously. Stay with it as long as it enhances and strengthens. If you start questioning your own sanity because you have begun to feel you are taking it all too seriously, you probably are. Stop, step back and reorient yourself. This process can take the form of a vacation, a new approach to cross training or just a few days off.

EXPECTATIONS:
Make them great ones. Aim for as high as you can see, but make sure your feet are planted firmly on earth when you look. Some of the most self-destructive behavior grows out of illogical, unrealistic self delusions of grandeur. Beware of pipe dreams.

WIND DOWN OR BURN OUT: For most athletes at this latitude (the Mid Atlantic states,)
the racing season in many sports starts in the spring, glides through the summer and ends or quickens again in the fall before the race schedule finally dries up before winter sets in. For competitors who stay with it for nine months or longer, the danger of burnout becomes ever more real as the season grinds on. Race it if you must and can stay healthy and happy. But if you are beginning to feel the strain either in your working mechanisms or in your head, take the message to heart and ease up to recover your energy and enthusiasm.

HARVEST:
If you have trained well and have stayed out of trouble – meaning injury free – you are certainly entitled to have some pure fun beyond just hammering yourself to numbness.

TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT:
Take some long hikes in the woods, start going on some club rides, break out your ATB and attack a mountain. This can be a beautiful time to reap the fruit of your athletic labors over the past few months.

TRIUMPH VS P.R.: Winning in endurance sports is a great deal more than coming in first. Most athletes come to understand that fact early in their careers. Sometimes just finishing a race can give you the heady experience of high achievement every bit as much as taking a gold medal. Nothing is so uplifting as going back on the road after a long and painful recovery from a seemingly intractable injury. But take it easy, and don’t let yourself be seduced into over-stepping your deconditioned state.

ADVENTURE VS DRUDGERY: Even when grinding through the last phases of training for a marathon or a century ride or another heroic effort, your daily routine can still hold a sense of mystery and adventure for you. Pick a new venue, a new time of the day, a new training partner, new gear. If you should ever suffer from feelings of despair or of being a powerless, innocent victim, turn your thinking around. Practice taking on the mind set of an explorer in which you see the world around you as if for the first time. Think of how you would describe it to a complete stranger.

STICK TO THE POINT: Skeptics have asked, “what’s the point of doing what you do?” To a degree, one supposes, if they have to ask, they may not comprehend the answer. The fact is that just being here is the point – to live, to experience life, to be there when the future happens. Where better a place to be than on the journey, aware and ready for anything?

In Good Health,
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President,
The Pressure Positive Company®

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Self Care in Trigger Point Therapy
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Pain, as most of us know by our own life experience, comes in a variety of forms, at any age and at any time of the day or night, often when we least expect it or when it is most inconvenient. Accordingly we would do well to consider devising an accessible approach to self care for that time when, by accident, over-use or chronic condition, our pain level rises to the point at which we become dysfunctional or distracted or both.

If the idea of taking positive charge of your own well being in this way leaves you anxious or confused or weak in the knees, seek out the help of a knowledgeable friend or health professional. Often a coach or personal trainer or massage therapist can offer insights and pointers that will lead you in the right direction.

Since most garden variety pain has more to do with soft tissue or muscles, here is where you will likely find the best answers to your most basic questions. One approach to the matter of pain is to think of the three ways of dealing with most of it that you will encounter in your everyday life. These are: Prevention, First Aid and Long Term Management.

“Since most garden variety pain has more to do with soft tissue or muscles, here is where you will likely find the best answers to your most basic questions. One approach to the matter of pain is to think of the three ways of dealing with most of it that you will encounter in your everyday life. These are: Prevention, First Aid and Long Term Management.”

Prevention:
There is no way to guarantee that you will be able to live pain free, no matter how protective or cautious you are. However, a regular program of moderate, well balanced exercise with generous amounts of aerobic, cardio vascular activity, some strength training and stretching with some variation in routine will go a long way to keeping your body tuned up, strong and limber enough to do all of the things you have always enjoyed and which give color, texture and energy to your life without your having to be concerned about hurting yourself.

Of course if your interests turn toward mountain climbing, sky diving, or skiing steep and deep powder, and the like, you will certainly want to step up your conditioning to levels appropriate for your sensible and realistic aspirations.

First Aid:
Pain is often the signal that something is amiss when injury strikes. Listen to it even as all of your best plans are falling apart. Assess the damage. Is it a broken bone, a joint sprain, a muscle strain, a traumatic injury or an over-use syndrome on the rise? Your answers may or may not point you in the right direction, but they will add to your store of experience that should help protect you in the future. For most athletes and sport oriented therapists and trainers, icing, rest, compression and elevation are the traditional first treatments for soft tissue injury. Broken bones and more severe muscle and joint damage take longer and more complicated repair and recuperative protocols.

Long Term Pain Management:
Eventually prevention and first aid lead to and then blend in with long term management of symptoms. All of these care phases then become a seamless whole. In the quest for pain free and optimally functional long term fitness, serious seekers of effective self care will search for knowledgeable, pain management clinicians, but, as David Simons, M.D. has said,* “…finding a truly skilled practitioner can be frustratingly difficult.” But, he adds, “There is no substitute for learning how to control your own musculoskeletal pain. Treating myofascial trigger points yourself addresses the source of that kind of common pain and is not just a way or temporarily relieving it.”

This self care principle is a direct outgrowth of the trigger point identification and treatment protocol that was developed both before and after World War II by Hans Kraus, M.D. and Janet Travell, M.D., among others including aerospace researcher and physician David G. Simons, M.D. By the late 1970s, nationally popular exercise therapist and promoter, Bonnie Prudden and friend and associate of Drs. Kraus and Travell, had developed her own, non invasive trigger point protocol that was a direct extension of the early work of Kraus and Travell.

Prudden called her technique Myotherapy, wrote a book on it and founded her own Academy for Physical Fitness and Myotherapy in a former elementary school in Lenox Masachusetts to train professional myotherapists. The elements of the Prudden Myotherapy treatment include the following key elements:

The success of this therapeutic protocol is measured by the subjective reduction in pain, increased flexibility and range of motion as well as in increased strength, endurance and over all physical function. Success is also measured by the degree to which patients become active participants in their ongoing self care.

Over the past thirty years the myotherapeutic model has been widely practiced by physicians and therapists representing the span of professional disciplines that define mainstream, physical medicine. And it is now well accepted as an effective and conservative treatment option.

Precipitating factors. By thorough patient intake interviews, the myotherapist
seeks to discover the conditions and circumstances that contribute to the patient’s symptoms.

Deep, manual, soft tissue ischemic compression and myofascial release of trigger points.

Individualized active and passive stretching exercises often facilitated with topical application of coolant spray.

Detailed patient instruction in home self care including deep muscle compression, stretching and strengthening exercises and the management and avoidance of precipitating factors.

In Good Heath,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President,
The Pressure Positive Company®

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When Your Back Goes Out

You’re  smart.  You fulfill your obligations; you mind your own business and generally do the right thing in whatever enterprise engages you at the moment. You take care of yourself, exercise in moderation, eat right, and enjoy good health and a relatively high fitness level and all of the benefits that usually flow from your admirable lifestyle.  Unfortunately freedom from back pain is not necessarily one of those benefits.

You might be one of the lucky ones and escape this particular torment through your lifetime.  If you do, you will be in an elite minority.  Congratulations, and lucky you.

For most of the rest of us, however, we would do well to have some kind of a game plan to call into play when it feels like we have been hit in the back with a jackhammer.  Knowing what to do when that happens or feels like it is about to happen depends largely on the nature and level of your pain, its location and its root cause.

If you are relatively young, take heart; eventually you should become an expert on your symptoms and will learn to identify and avoid the factors that bring on a back pain episode and what works best to prevent and ease your own, special travail.  In the meantime, here are some suggestions to try out the next time the hammer strikes.

Rest:  For many habitual athletes, the word is anathema, but when your back is in unremitting spasm, you have little choice.  At the same time you need not baby yourself too much or too long and should become as active and as soon as your pain level will allow.  The days of long term bed rest for garden variety back pain are pretty much over since it was found that extended inactivity actually lengthens the recovery period.  

Ice:  As for other muscle injuries, cold therapy can work wonders.  You can use packaged chemical coolants, gels that stay mushy even when frozen or old fashioned ice packs. Avoid frostbite with a towel between your skin and the pack, but make sure you cool the tissues deep enough to reach the core of the spasm.  In the early, acute stages, you can effectively ice up to three or more times a day.  Remember to keep the rest of your body comfortably warm while you are icing, especially in colder weather..

Drugs: You may get your physician to prescribe a muscle relaxant or a heavy duty pain-killer.  Such pills can get you through the worst of it.  You might also try Ibuprofen, a generic, over-the-counter anti inflammatory and pain medication. Although with Ibuprofen, you may need to take it for several days or even a couple of weeks to sustain a therapeutic blood level to achieve the anti inflammatory effect, beware of the risks that accompany long term dependency. When in doubt, check with your physician.

●Massage: If you are fortunate enough to have access to a skilled, strong massage or other hands-on therapist who can and will apply deep muscle compression, go for it as soon and as often as you can.  There are a variety of theories underlying the various techniques used to release trigger points, relax taut muscles, improve range of motion and mitigate muscle pain; you may find that with experience you will prefer one method over another.  In the end it is the therapist who leaves you feeling more flexible, more relaxed, and in less pain who will likely give you the most satisfaction.

Professional Care: If your pain leaves you unable to move, you may have no choice but to seek the care of a physician.  Your family doctor may be your first stop unless you have access to a physician who specializes in physical medicine, pain management, sports injury rehabilitation, chiropractic, orthopedic, physical or occupational therapy.

“There are excellent practitioners in all of these specialties and more. Selecting the professional who offers the best match for you requires that you do your homework, most effectively before you are in a painful crisis.”

● Exercise: Once you are out of the woods, and can move around without going into spasm, you can start some benign strengthening and stretching exercises.  Abdominal curls done flat on your back with knees bent can be started early on and will produce the best payoff.  You can take exercise and stretching classes at you local gym or refer to self care information at the http://www.pressurepositive.com/ website described below.

Self Care: As important as outside sources of help can be to relieve your aching back, do explore all the possibilities available to you to help yourself. In addition to appropriate medical care, rest, ice, stretching, exercise, and other lifestyle choices, there are tools that can help you manage your back pain issues by allowing you to apply deep, static, soft tissue compression that will quell muscle spasms and chronic pain, easing tension in the involved muscles sufficiently enough to allow deliberate, targeted stretching.  Over time such a regular regimen, as a component in a balanced self care program, will not only help you heal but will be effective in preventing future recurrences.  In the interests of full disclosure, my own enterprise, The Pressure Positive Company specializes in the design and manufacture of such self care products that are displayed along with a wealth of detailed information on self care at our corporate website at: http://www.pressurepositive.com/ .

 ●Learn:  In the end the more you know about yourself, what works and what doesn’t, how to recognize the warning signs when something is about to go wrong and what you need to do to stay upright and well over time is your best, most dependable defense.

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Aging With Grace
By
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

To just about everyone who reaches a self defined ripe age, growing older is not nearly as much fun as, say, growing up or blossoming or hitting your stride at 35 or 40. Growing old brings with it new aches and pains, disappointments and continuing discoveries of crummy little surprises. Aging, at best, is not usually one of life’s most joyous passages, least of all for sissies or whiners.

agingwithgraceBut for those up to the challenge and for those prepared to do it gracefully, aging, even getting old, need not be the dreary, depressing experience some make it out to be. Here are a few thoughts about making it through by making the best of it.

Use it:
Use everything you’ve got, or it will just slip away while you are not paying attention. Exercise physically or train at anything and everything you can do and enjoy. Build as much variety into your physical fitness program as you can, both to condition as much of your anatomy as you can reach as well as to spread the stress of training and to lengthen your recovery periods without going cold turkey. Run, bowl, hike, bicycle, ski, swim, climb – whatever – just do it more or less every day or two and more or less all year round.

Learn to take it easy:
The most important lesson any hard driving, competitive person can internalize is understanding the importance of backing off, resting and gathering strength, knowing when and how to do it. Rest and recovery are at the heart of all athletic training and contain the secret of both the long run and the long, long run.

Know your stress:
That is, know what kind of stress works for you. Stress has gotten a mostly bad rap in the popular press. We achieve; we create; we survive and thrive on stress. Stress is inherent in quality athletic training as it is in fitness exercise, and no one can perform, improve or endure without quality training. That fact holds for the world class athlete as it does for the most modest, middle aged, neophyte jogger starting out in the neighborhood. Stress is not inherently bad for you, but unrelieved, unmanaged, debilitating stress ages you as fast as any other abuse. Handle your stress and learn when and how to back off.

Sleep:
Get all that you need. Remember that your sleep requirements can change somewhat depending on your training, age and excess stress levels. Be sensitive to your own needs and don’t cut your sack time short.

Eat:
Go for the best. Aim for natural, green and yellow vegetables and ripe fruits, nuts, grains, fish, and plenty of water. Stay away from fat, sugary, greasy, fake, doughy, heavy and highly manufactured and refined foods. Three square meals a day that include a good variety of wholesome, honest ingredients as close to their natural state as possible remains the best advice for the prudent athlete or anyone who wants to keep going for as long as possible.

Give:
Do something for others. Anything you do that actually contributes to the general welfare will make you feel better and can act like an energizing tonic on your outlook and sense of accomplishment. Simple things like volunteering to time a local race or something big like writing a newsletter for area runners are there for the doing. If you have trouble inventing a do-good project all by yourself, there are plenty of organizations right in your home town that would be delighted to give you some ideas. All you have to do is ask.

Enjoy:
Take your enjoyment just for its own sake. People train or exercise for a wide variety of reasons. But the one that will stay with you and the one that will give you the most profound benefits is your own personal pleasure that you derive from whatever you do, whether it is a two mile walk or a jog or serious training for yet another marathon.

Beware:
Know the warning signs of rapid aging. Some negative feelings are a sure tip-off of rough times ahead. Recognize them when they come at you and grapple with them then and there. Don’t let them ferment in your head. These signals include anxiety, (free floating or other) anger, jealousy, melancholia and indifference, to name a few. Sometimes the best way to start to deal with them is to go out for an endurance exercise session – a long run or hike or ride – to put them in perspective.

Solve:
Fix your problems. Once you’ve gotten a handle on the negative downers, break them into manageable “chunks” and chip away at the first ones first.

Move:
Above all, keep moving. There has never been a way discovered that will keep you youthful forever, but keeping actively engaged in regular exercise on a day to day basis is as likely as you will come to finding a fountain of youth. It is also a lot more fun than vegetating and waiting to begin feeling your age.

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TRAIN FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Stress, in the conventional wisdom, is an inevitable feature of modern life. Some might call it a pandemic. It may well be true that even with our labor saving devices and efficiencies now so much a part of everyday living, we moderns still experience more everyday stress compared with our ancestors of even one, two or three generations ago. Given that contemporary stressors are not likely to diminish in their influence over us any time soon, our only hope must come from how we learn to cope and adapt to the tension building vagaries of our world.

StressManagement1
Personality, character, upbringing and the luck of the draw have a lot to do with how you respond when it all seems to be caving in on your head. But techniques for coping and managing stress can also be learned. One of the best, as any athlete will tell you, is just to go out and have a successful workout at whatever you do and like the best.

Here are a few thoughts about using your athletic training or fitness exercise as an approach to personal stress management.

DOING IT:
For physical activity to work as a stress countering measure, you do actually have to go at it with vigor. Thinking about it, dabbling or playing at it won’t work. You can’t go to the Nautilus center and hang out as if recovering from a hard set for an hour and a half and get any real benefits. You can’t expect too much out of your first and only work out in six months. For exercise to impact on your stress level, you need to be trained enough at it to sustain at least minimum of a half hour of uninterrupted, serious effort.

LIKING IT:
If your base activity is aerobic, and it is not physically self destructive, it matters a great deal less what you actually do than how much you enjoy it. Even if you have a masochistic quirk steering and a puritan ethic driving your enthusiasm, you probably won’t be able to support a long term commitment to your exercise program unless it yields you some level of reliable, escapist pleasure. If you have not yet discovered such an exercise pastime, get creative and keep looking.

USING IT:
Once you have settled on a favored physical activity or, even better, a variety of them, you can choose at will whatever suits your day and circumstances for medicinal, sedative or preventive purposes. You say your loud, opinionated hard drinking, smoking in laws are all coming for the family’s Labor Day picnic when it is supposed to rain, and you are all going to be jammed into the back porch for the day? Go for a long run, Lose yourself in it; come back refreshed and at peace. When it’s all over you know you can go out again tomorrow and leave any lingering nasties out on the road. It may not improve your picnic much, but you’ll be tougher

CONTROLLING IT:
One of the few psychological problems habitual athletes encounter is the addiction to regular training that can develop over time. Most medical and behavioral experts discount the seriousness of athletic addictions because they are considered positive and healthful. However, if you are aware that you have addictive tendencies and are likely to continue training even though doing so, for example, will aggravate an injury, take special pains to seek out advice and. or other training alternatives before it controls you.

BEING COHERENT:
If physical training is a valued part of your coping strategy, it doesn’t make much logical sense to otherwise dissipate your health or your energies in wasteful, counterproductive pursuits like smoking, excessive partying or overwork, all of which can load on your stress. Usually age brings with it some common sense along with physiological imperatives that help veteran athletes keep to the straight and narrow path of virtue. But beware, there are few who would not agree that we grow to soon old and too late smart.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President
The Pressure Positive Company®

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