Your rate of recovery is one of the most important factors to continuing to grow and progress in your movement practice.
If you’re experiencing slow recovery after your training it’s often a sign that your training needs a bit more yin (internal work) to balance all the yang (external work).
You’re not the only one. So many of my students came to me to overcome this challenge when I began working with them, and I used to experience it too …
I never thought that getting better posture would dramatically improve recovery rate, but it does. And I share my insights in this post.
My Fatigued Nervous System and an Angry Girlfriend
Back in the days when I would eat barbells for breakfast, lifting tons of weight up and down, over and over again – I felt like a beast.
Until I hit a recovery wall!
It got to the point where even a walk down the street would make me tired. My libido was at an all time low and my girlfriend was not happy … if you catch my drift.
I realised I’d hit a point of chronic neural fatigue. Meaning my nervous system was exhausted.
I felt tense, stiff and sore all the time and my gains in the gym we’re not just stalling … they we’re going backwards. I needed find out how to bring some balance back to my body and understanding more about tension release was the key …
Habitual Muscular Tension is Trashing Your Nervous System
It’s common place in the gym and fitness world that we do strength training.
And it often involves lifting weights for reps, up and down, which require you to tense up those muscles of yours.
While this can be helpful to improve your strength and the efficiency of your nervous system. If the dosage has been too high for too long, it can put your body in a habitual state of muscular tension.
Muscles in a habitual state of tension can be overloading your nervous system and causing blockages to your body’s natural ability to recover quickly.
I’ve learned that to sustainably train your body, and keep the experience of joy when you move. You need to balance your Yin activities (internal nourishing training), with your Yang activities (external nourishing training).
But if your body is seriously overloaded from too much Yang based training, many solutions out there are too little, too late.
Why Foam Rollers and Visits to the Chiro Rarely Give Lasting Relief
To bring some more Yin into my physical training I explored foam rolling and went to the chiro, but it wasn’t enough to offset the damage I’d done to myself lifting all those weight and doing grueling sets of high intensity conditioning.
When foam rollers emerged into the fitness scene as a solution to relax tense muscles and self massage became the next best thing since sliced toast.
But after years of rolling the same old spots and feeling my recovery slowly decline.
I had to ask myself (and I suggest you do the same) … Beyond the initial relief, does foam rolling actually help improve the function of your whole muscular, fascia and nervous systems?
I thought I was onto a winner after the chiro cracked me back into place, and my energy levels perked up a little, but a day or two later they came crashing back down again like a bad choice in Jenga.
I tried everything I could:
- Contrast showers,
- Reiki healing
- Nutritional supplements,
- Ice baths.
I realised these approaches don’t always work the way you’d expect, because they don’t teach you how to use your body better every hour you’re awake.
Sure they provide relief, but pretty soon you can revert back to your old habits in the way you move and train, that aren’t doing your nervous system and recovery ability and favors.
You can rinse and repeat this quick fix approach all you like, but if you’re anything like me you’ll realise the real problem just hangs around like a fart in a tent … And no amount of nose plugs will make the smell go away.
I was stuck in what I refer to today is the pain treatment pentagon …
Sometimes you’ve got to tear the tent down and rebuild it from scratch. And to do that you’ve go to get to the source of your muscular tension and learn how to re-train your muscular habits from the ground up …
3 Steps to Re-Train Your Muscular Habits + Speed Your Slow Recovery
Here’s some steps that have helped me a my students to an endless degree to retrain their physical habits to build a more robust nervous system …
1) Identify patterns of habitual tension in your postural muscles
- The first place I recommend to look for patterns of habitual tension in the way you stand. It basically shows you how your postural muscles are interacting with the forces of gravity.
- The way you stand is the foundation for essentially every movement you could think of, especially while you’re on your feet.
- Every movement you make from this point will magnify the tension your body is holding in this position.
The image here is of Daniel Spencer (movement teacher), a student of the Tension Release Technique online training program. This shows the way he was standing before he began the practices.
And here’s some of my notes when I initially assessed him.
Even though he’s quite a fit guy and can do some pretty impressive moves, he commenced work with me because he still felt restricted by his body.
You can see where he’s holding tension while he’s standing.
2) Improve the way you stand
Once you improve the way you stand, your body is able to more easily move back into balanced alignment, for better posture in the movements you use most of your day, like sitting, standing and walking.
One of the nest ways I’ve found so far to improve your standing and over all body alignment, is through the practice of Standing Meditation, which can also be referred to as Zhan Zhuang (in China), or Kayotsarga (in India and Yogic practices).
3) Practice, allow and be patient
- After consistent practice, allowing the benefits of Standing Meditation to compound.
- Your body learns how to naturally have better posture, as your muscles don’t have to be fighting each other to hold your skeleton in place.
- This dramatically eases the tension that can drain your nervous systems ability to function optimally, and allow you to recover more efficiently from your physical activity.
Now you’ve got some helpful steps to improve a big factor that can be slowing down your recovery from training.
The next step is integrating this information into your practice, and I’d like to support you through the process …
Bring Your Body Back to Balance
If you’re feeling tired and like your body needs some more vitality. I’m inviting you to learn a process I call the Tension Releasing Body to effectively relax and release tense muscles, so you can restore your body’s natural healing abilities and experience more joy filled movement.