Have you ever wondered about the effects of working out and stress on the body and how this can impair muscle recovery and development? Us too. That’s why we reached out to Tim Roberts, Director of Sports Science at Theragun, to answer all our burning questions.
Stress occurs following both mental and physical stimuli and this causes the body to release hormones (including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol) as it’s natural response. When we workout we actually cause a stress response, this is positive and designed to help us be prepared for the physical activity ahead. However, it can become problematic when the stress response is too much or it occurs too often in our lives. Too much stress and this fight or flight response can start to lead to physiological changes that have negative consequences. Increased muscle tension, suppressed immune function, and increased blood pressure are all symptoms that can occur. With more and more stress from our busy lifestyles and also trying to fit working out in, it is important to understand the different ways we can combat stress and manage what we have.
As stress related illness is on the rise it is important to understand natural ways in which we relieve stress. Despite it actually inducing a stress response, working out and exercise can actually be a key solution to reducing and coping with the stress you have. Not only does exercise increase your overall health and well-being it also directly helps to fight the negative consequences of too much stress. Exercise causes the natural production of endorphins, it helps with the regulation of mood, and it also helps to moderate the hormone response to stress. Furthermore, percussive therapy is another non-medication based tool to help combat stress as well as supporting the recovery from exercise. Percussive therapy will cause direct reductions in muscle and emotional tension1, increases in blood flow to tired muscles2, and the temporary reduction in pain or soreness3. Lastly, sleep is extremely important in our fight against stress and we can improve this through the optimisation of our sleep environments to be cool, dark, and quiet and through building routines to help us try and have a consistent sleep/wake cycle. Percussive therapy is one tool that can be part of the pre-sleep routine to help you relax before going to sleep.
The recovery and adaptation from exercise is an extremely complex process and the physiological consequences of stress can have a negative impact on the body’s responses. Chronic stress can lead to an overproduction of cortisol which is less than optimal for creating an anabolic environment for protein synthesis, the key process in the development of new muscle and the remodeling of existing muscle following exercise. Furthermore, the negative psychological responses to stress can lead to less than optimal behaviors in regards to sleep, nutrition, and hydration which are also all key for recovery.
The application of pressure on different tissues in the body leads to both physiological and psychological responses. This is why myofascial interventions have been used for years and now percussive therapy is the latest evolution of these. Percussive therapy has been shown to stimulate mechanoreceptors in the muscle tissues which result in changes in muscle activity such as reduced muscle tension as well as reducing emotional tension. Helping individuals regulate their nervous system as well as helping them reduce soreness and improve recovery from exercise. Due to the way different receptors respond to pressure we have found that low pressure and slow-moving