Can stress increase your risk of injury during workouts?
Can stress increase your risk for workout injuries?
The short answer is yes.
I’m dealing with both a strained left shoulder and left
elbow right now.
Anyone who works out knows that so-called “over-use”
injuries happen from time to time. But these strains that I am
currently recovering from both happened out of the blue.
Each strained happened while exercising, but with movements
that I would normally have no problem with. And each strain is
taking an unusually long time to recover from.
So why am I sharing this with you?
Because I want you to minimize the risk of injury to yourself in
your own workouts.
Now when I said that these strains happened out of the blue, some
people could interpret that the strains were random. But through my
workout experience, my feeling is that two moderate strains happening near
the same time with an educated/advanced exerciser are more than random.
Why would these strains happen if there were no dramatic changes
in my workout style?
The short answer is stress.
Of course, muscular stress can cause strains.
But this is different.
It’s more of a chronic stress tied in with systemic fatigue.
I had recently increased my work hours at Personal Fitness Advantage
from a standard sixty hours per week to seventy (this personal trainer needs
get out of our Plantation, Florida personal training studio and get some
more sun and fresh air!). In addition, there were a few recent tragedies
within my family and social network.
I believe that my body was able to handle the sixty hours, but the
seventy hours per week (possibly along with the tragedies) pushed
it over the edge.
A take away lesson for you is that your body is at greater risk for
injury when you are dealing with increased an workload in other areas
of life and the general fatigue to the body that that causes.
A study recently published in the journal Pyschological and
Cognitive Sciences entitled ‘Chronic stress, glucocorticoid
receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk’, by Cohen, et al.,
touches on the general pheonemenom I’m referring to.
“The immune system’s ability to regulate inflammation predicts
who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation
of how stress can promote disease,” says Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University.
From my understanding, the study suggests that your body’s process
of inflammation is more likely to go haywire when you are under
greater degrees of stress. We all know that we are more likely to get
sick when dealing with high loads of stress and not getting enough rest.
This study continues to answer the question of why that is and how
inflammation in the body could lead to disease.
Although the study is not specific to unexplained exercise-related
injuries, I believe the same or similar processes are at work.
The good news is that moderate amounts of well-designed exercise
tends to promote a healthy immune system and a balanced inflammatory
response. You just need to be extra, extra careful when exericisng
while under high amounts of stress or under conditions where you
are fatigued to a large degree.
And for you South Florida fitness buffs, as I reminded myself, make
sure to go out and enjoy the beach and fresh air! It’s too easy to take it