Stress in one form or another is present in everyone’s lives and can be both good or bad. Stress can keep us aware, give us energy to workout and it can help us perform better. However if you are dealing with too much stress for prolonged periods of time there can be serious health problems which arise.
Stress can affect practically everything in the body, from your skin to your muscles to your energy levels.
Muscle tension is a symptom of stress which includes having constantly hunched shoulders, gritting your teeth, twitches and spasms. The severity of these symptoms differ person to person – one may experience mild muscle spasms whilst someone else could be in huge pain from being constantly clamped up.
Prolonged periods of stress eventually takes a toll on the muscles as they get no period of relaxation. Normally your muscles are used to contract for a short period of time (during exercise) and then they get the opportunity to relax. Recovery means the muscles receive better blood flow which clear the muscles of buildup of wastes and lactic acid. It also brings nutrients to help the muscles recover from the strain of contraction. When muscles are constantly contracted there is poor blood flow.
In response, the muscles become strained, less elastic and less able to contract or be stretched during movements which can obviously result in injuries and pain which is definitely what we want to be avoiding!
TIPS TO COMBAT STRESS
Sleep is great for recovering and healing our muscles, so it is incredibly important we are letting our bodies get enough rest to recover properly to avoid injury. This is why it is not always best to workout every single day, as your body doesn’t get the chance to heal and it can result in getting sick or being injured.
What you put into your body affects the way we feel, and it is the same when it comes to our mental wellbeing and stress. We tend to crave sugary snacks when feeling under pressure, but this can affect your moods and performance in the gym.
A balanced diet can help counter the impact of stress by keeping the immune system healthy and lowering blood pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat my fair share of chips and chocolate, however I do see an impact on my mood sometimes.
I am always talking about the importance of drinking water but it really can be amazing for the body. Staying hydrated can keep your cortisol levels down, alleviating stress. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, so make sure you are drinking at least 2 litres a day.
If you are training regularly you should try and get sport massages to help with correcting problems and imbalances in soft tissue that are caused from repetitive physical activity. Treating yourself to a sports massage will enhance performance, aid recovery and prevent injury.