Exercise for Recovery

Why is exercise so awesome for recovery?


It has been said that exercise is the closest thing there is to a miracle cure. All the evidence suggests that small amounts of regular exercise bring dramatic benefits. We age better when we are more active, we have less anxiety, we better manage blood pressure and insulin levels, we help prevention dementia as well as a host of other diseases.


Exercise stimulates an incredible array of adaptive and self-balancing mechanisms that nudge tissue states back to normal. The right intensity is the Goldilocks zone, enough to provoke adaption, not enough to injure, and thereby encouraging the self-regulating systems in your body to work the way they are supposed to work.


Those systems all rely on feedback loops based on molecular signalling, and exercise produces a lot of stimulation into the feedback loops, which is has a normalising effect on your body’s systems.


If you are coming back from accident, injury, exhaustion or other rehab it is difficult to know where to start a return to normal, and if that isn’t possible, how to get the best mobility that you can. Stimulating movements of your joints and working with your soft tissues is more important than building tight muscles.


Most treatments after any of these problems address the local site of the problem, whether it’s an issue with your lower back, shoulder or an Achilles tendon, whilst the effects are usually quite good, these tail off after the treatment and quickly the problem reoccurs. For this to be long lasting the benefits of this work needs to be integrated into a connected body and not just left as a one-off treatment.


My advice is not to focus on your particular problem as if was something you have to “fix”, but to become friendly with it instead. Ask it to connect up and “play” with the rest of your body, I appreciate this sounds a little odd, but it stops it from being centre stage and asks it to perform as part of the team. Have some specialist treatment by all means, even a course of treatment if that is what is advised but don’t leave it there, or any gains will be lost. Capitalise on the work done by integrating it into whole body movement.


How to do it right.


Whether you need to start moving again after surgery, injury, exhaustion or simply out of shape it is important to think of the whole body as a single cooperative unit. When you approach it this way you encourage your body to soften and unwind. A partial release of tension from one tight part encourages your body to release in another area, that release then allows another area of unwind.


Gradually this has a ripple out effect allowing the original part to find more movement and become more integrated, in a way that simply working on it as a separate unit never manages. Comfortable movement in your joints will naturally align your muscles, tendons and ligaments to keep the joints stable, and allow them to move easily within your normal range without binding. Contraction training builds tension and tightness, whereas simple strength training will build a natural muscle tone.


Loosening the tightness in your body and allowing excess tension to drain away is the starting place. Simple smooth movements of your joints will rebalance your body, softening tight connections creating a comfortable sense of movement. Next, (although these both happen together), you increase the stress challenges by increasing the complexity of the movements. In return your body will respond by building you a stronger body with a relaxed power.


A strong body built by relaxed power shouldn’t be confused with a strong body built by tension and compounding. Superficially they may seem the same, but they have a quite different feeling in your body. One works cooperatively with your body, the other battles for supremacy over your body. One works for a lifetime, the other only works as long as your body is young, ultimately that is a battle lost.


How much work do you need to do?


Assuming you are able to move around as a natural part of your daily life then you only need to add small amounts of more focussed exercise once or twice a week, and no more than 10 minutes at a time.


To understand this better think what happens to a broken arm or a leg after 6 weeks in plaster. It has atrophied with weak muscles and a disconnected feel. The simple function of moving about your daily business was enough to keep your body in regular condition. Gradually increasing the stress challenges on your body will bring huge rewards for your health and mobility.


Upgrading your movements to add increased “stress challenges” onto your body to illicit an improved response, is very different from adding “stress” into your body by the wrong kind of exercise. Upgrading to a powerful but relaxed body just takes a small increase in effort and is best done by a finding time for a comfortable structured practice. One that works the whole of your body.


Smooth flowing movements that release long term chronic tension and pains, and builds a strong connected body www.exercisesforlife.co.uk

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