Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stress and Bubble Wrap

I was sitting on the couch a few days ago, icing three separate injured body parts when I decided to catch up on the lastest issue of Runner's World.  (Despite the fact that I am not a runner, I still have aspirations.  And I feel more like an athlete for reading such magazines.)  The title "Stress Recess" caught my eye, because stress is a concept with which I'm unfortunately on a "curl up and cuddle with" basis.  Despite years of sort of off and on trying, I've never gotten a handle on it, and it's wreaked havoc in my body in a number of fairly serious ways.  (I wrote about it here a while ago.)
I know cortisol plays a huge role in weight loss.  I know that despite the good in can serve in a fight-or-flight time, that it can also have some seriously nasty effects.

I knew that over training can produce cortisol, and I knew that cortisol is catabolic, meaning it can cause the breakdown of protein in muscles.

But even though I knew all of this, what I read in the article caught me off guard:
 "For the most part, running is touted as a mental tonic.  Research has shown that [it] helps keep granule neurons in the brain from firing, making you better able to deal with anger, anxiety or grief, the negative emotions referred to, collectively as stress. But there's a flip side.  Research also indicates taht running during an especially rough life patch can make you more susceptible to stress and even injury...Excess cortisol can have harmful effects on bone density and can make you tense up.  Run stiff and you're more likely to strain a muscle or tweak a joint... Serious stress over a long period of time can distract a person to the point that he doesn't notice or pay enough attention to what is happeing to his body."
A few months ago I had a nasty low-back injury that required massaging and chiropractic help and two weeks away from the gym-- and it was in a period of very high stress. And now all these seemingly unrelated injuries (though I'm learning that things are rarely as unrelated as they appear) that are forcing me to rest when I'd really like to go as hard as I can are also in a crazy-high stress period.  I'm guessing if these things happen to runners under high stress, they happen to wanna-be bodybuilders under high stress too.  And if it can happen to athletes, I'm betting it can happen to anybody in such a stressed-out state.

A few weeks ago, a friend was telling me what things were like for her after her husband died. She knew that I had a lot going on and she gave me a word of parting advice: "Be careful."  When I looked at her oddly, she continued, "Be careful with your body. I would walk down the street and just fall, and I was constantly running into things.  Things are off, and what's going on in your mind will affect your body."

Instead of marketing all sorts of useless things to stressed out people, someone should get really smart-- and offer discounts on mass quantities of Bubble Wrap. It will keep people from hurting themselves when they inadvertently walk into walls or fall on their face.  And double bonus, when it's safe to take off the Bubble Wrap-- think of all the fun to be had! You're welcome.