Ok, so the easiest type of stress to start with in the triangle is Physical Stress. This post won’t be long because it’s very simple…when we don’t take care of our physical body, it breaks down!! It’s that simple. The hard thing is, making it important enough for us to actually do something about.
In my first Stress Post, I talked about the fact that stressors effect the body by either creating a toxicity (too much of something) or a deficiency (not giving the body what it needs to function). In regards to physical stress lets look at how this occurs.
Toxic Physical Stress
These are your physical injuries or things we do to our bodies on a daily basis that either slowly or violently attack the function of our perfectly created bodies. Things like sports injuries because of improper warm up, postural weakness due to sitting in front of a computer all day long, whip-lash from car accidents or going to the theme park, damage to the arches of our feet because of improper shoe wear, and on and on and on. The body is amazing and it does have the capacity to heal itself, but these injuries come at a price. The biggest thing that occurs is scar tissue development. Did you know that less than 48 hours after any time of acute injury (sprain, strain, fall, anything really) your body begins to develop scar tissue to try and protect the area that you injured to try and keep you from injuring that area any worse. So who cares?? I mean, if the body put it there, isn’t it totally fine?? Not exactly. When the scar tissue builds up in the area of injury, it restricts the normal motion of that area and where that becomes a problem is in our joints and especially our spine and hip joints. When the body cannot move like it needs to, it starts to degenerate. In Chiropractic there’s a saying we always use: “Motion is life” because motion is what keeps the joints “alive” and functioning. So the lack of motion leads to long-term problems with function because the body can’t move like it was designed to. The discs in between your vertebrae and the cartilage in between your joints needs the motion, otherwise it will start to deteriorate and waste away.
Solution: You have to repair the tissue. This is why body work is sooooo important. Not only Chiropractic, even though that’s incredible, but any body work technique to help your body regain motion and function. Techniques like massage, body talk, acupuncture, physical therapy, kinesio taping, rolfing and active release technique help reverse the scar tissue produced by the body and restore circulation and nerve function to the area of injury. This helps the tissue regain it’s strength and repairs the damage as much as possible depending on how long its been damaged. Other therapies that are really incredible and healing scar tissue and joint motion are cold laser therapy, ultrasound (with someone who knows what they are doing), vibrational therapy, and essential oil techniques to help the body rebuild the tissue. If you’re not getting adjusted every few weeks or so, then you need to be doing some kind of body work to help the body deal with the daily physical stressors and damage that we do to it.
Nutrition and supplementation play a big part in your healing from injury as well. Several supplements that I really like and use frequently in the office to help with acute soft tissue injury and scar tissue are:
- Gotu Kola: This is an herb from mediherb that has been found to reverse scar tissue in the body and aid in tissue repair
- Ligaplex I: Standard Process makes this and it is for inflammation caused by initial trauma.
- Fish Oil (Omega 3′s): These fats are essential for the body to repair the soft tissue of the body that you injure. Why?? Because they help you to produce normal amounts of cholesterol, which is vital for your body to heal it’s own tissue
- Traumeel Cream: This is a topical cream (they also make liquid and tablets) that has arnica, calendula, and other herbs and homeopathics to help speed up the healing process in the body. This stuff is incredible and it doesn’t smell or get hot or cold!
- Vitamin C: Vit C is the building block of all of your tendons and ligaments, so if you become low or deficient, your ligaments won’t heal or stabilize as fast as they should.
- Wobenzyme: I don’t carry this in the office anymore but it is really good for bringing down inflammation and promoting tissue healing.
We carry most of this stuff in the office so call us if you want to check any of it out.
Deficiency Physical Stressors
Ok, so injury is easier to talk about because we’re motivated to fix it….deficiency or lack of movement in our lives, lack of physical activity is harder because we’re all so busy we’ve made it less of a priority. Physical activity and exercise if not daily at least every other day aren’t only necessary for optimal health and function, they are vital to the overall well-being of your body. Without having physical activity, you are slowly wasting away. You are either building muscle or you are losing it, that’s the only two options. The hard part is if you haven’t exercised in a long time, or ever, then it’s really hard to start because it either hurts, or because you’re not used to working it into your schedule. So you really need to figure out what motivates you and have a goal of why you want to exercise. Is it playing with your kids/grandkids? Is it looking good on your birth video (busted, this is my motivation!)? What is it that you want to do that you can’t do by laying around?? A great, quick book to read to help get you motivated and to take some of the scare away from starting to work out and making exercise apart of your life is The Busy Person’s Fitness Solution by Kevin Gianni of Renegade Health. In his book, Kevin spends a good amount of time talking about your goals and helping you achieve what you want, but also gives you practical steps to start adding in healthy choices to your life like exercise and nutrition.
Solution: Buy some walking shoes!! Trust me, once you make it a priority to you and just start doing something, ANYTHING, you will get to a point of enjoying it and feeling the benefits and then you won’t want to stop. Take my mother-in-law….she started doing a spin class at the gym (not recommended for beginners) and feels so good when she works out that if she goes more than a week without working out, she doesn’t feel good. She feels sluggish, unhappy, her digestion gets messed up, and she’s actually more tired. So she consistently works out to keep herself feeling good. The same will happen for you. When you don’t work out, your body continually produces a hormone from your adrenal glands called cortisol. This hormone is responsible for releasing simple sugars in your body for you to use for fuel during stressful situations. It also helps to regulate inflammation in the body. The problem is, you’re supposed to shut it off and actually stop stressing out for part of the day so your body can catch up. How many of us do this though? Not many. Too much cortisol causes muscle wasting, insulin problems, and water retention. You begin to develop bipedal obesity where your body deposits fat around your hips and thighs. The number one thing that reverses cortisol production and adrenal stress?? You got it…physical activity. Even going for a quick, 15 minute walk in the evenings (or early morning with our heat!) helps the body stop the stress response and begin to reverse the damage caused by long-term cortisol release. There are so many options for you to begin slowly. The best is to just start walking every day. Six major benefits of maintaining a daily walking regimen include better health for your heart and circulatory system, building better bone mass and possibly preventing osteoporosis, managing maintaining and regulating and controlling diabetes, keeping your weight under control or balanced, lowering your risk of cancer or of dying from cancer, or improving your overall emotional well-being. You can also hire a trainer at a local gym. Hiring someone experienced who can give you guidance can really be a benefit. There are home workout programs you can do. Go slow on these and get checked out by a doctor to make sure you are ready for a workout program. Two that are really popular right now are the P90X Workout Program, which I do not recommend for very early beginners or people with injuries. But this is an intense really good overall workout you can do at home. Another one that is just as effective, but easier on the body and time is Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD series. This one looks like it would be really easy, but it is intense!! And it is a lot quicker (like 20 minutes) so you can get it in in less time during the day. Another program Cindy and I really like that one of our patients runs is called Stroller Strides. This program is for moms with kiddos in strollers. A great workout and a great way to meet other moms at your same stage of life. Again, the goal is to DO ANYTHING!!
We’ll cover other topics along this path, but share with me and the other readers your fitness tips and secrets. How do you fit it into a busy day??