You know how after a stressful day you feel agitated and tense? Your central nervous system (CNS) can feel the same way after a workout!
I have a powerful way for you to “hack” your nervous system to help speed up your rest and recovery, and also wind down after a bad day. It works because your CNS can’t tell the difference between good stress (like a workout) and bad stress (like a cruddy day at work).
Your CNS has two main parts:
● Your “flight or flight” sympathetic system, which helps you deal with threats and stress. It triggers the release of stress hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline) that rev you up so you can do what it takes to survive.
● Your “rest and relax” parasympathetic system, which calms you down by releasing “chillaxing” hormones like acetylcholine that lower your heart rate and help you relax.
If you stay in flight or fight mode:
● Your body stays stressed and on alert — and you’ll likely suffer from all of the things that come with that (like bad sleep, cravings, etc.)
● Your blood lactate levels remain high, which can interfere with your recovery
● It can lead to more soreness after your workouts
● It may lead to injuries
● And it can even cause your blood to pool, leaving you feeling faint
Here’s how you can soothe your “flight or fight” system while activating your “rest and relax” system.
● Do some light cardio (walk, easy bike ride, etc.) to either get your blood gently pumping OR gently bring your heart rate back to normal
● Stretch out and do some foam roll work
● Do some breath work (as simple as focusing on your breath)
If you make a habit of it, it just might become your favorite part of your workout (or day), because it feels soooooo good! This leads me to a feel-good assignment for you:
Make yourself do a cooldown after your workouts – or your day! – for an entire week.
Set aside a few minutes to gradually bring down your heart rate (or get your blood gently pumping), and then spend another 10-15 minutes stretching and/or on the foam roll. Take your time with it so you FEEL your muscles and body relax.
With your muscles warm and pliable, it will feel ah-MAZING! And it just might make you a cool-down/stretching convert. ;-)
Let me know if you meet the challenge!
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