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You have eaten right, trained hard, and mentally have prepared for the Open 2016. You may have had an injury on and off in the last year, but have struggled through it. You may have even struggled with going to the Box for your workouts because you felt burned out. Now you dig deep for the best performance possible and maybe or maybe not you are meeting your expectations.

Some of these symptoms are signs of OVERtraining. Other signs include chronic injuries, loss of motivation, and increased susceptibility to injury resulting in stupid little injuries that start to add up or are just painful enough to annoy you and affect your performance.

Overtraining occurs when we have an imbalance between the anaerobic and aerobic systems in the body. Many sports are anaerobic, aerobic, or both. Some sports that are thought to be aerobic are actually anaerobic based on the intensity of the exercise that causes a specific sympathetic response in the nervous and endocrine systems. Sports like weightlifting, crossfit, hockey, football (soccer), and tennis are anaerobic. Things like walking, running, and cycling are anaerobic, BUT it depends on the intensity of the training.

There are two gears to our nervous system: there is the fight or flight state (sympathetic) and the rest and digest state (parasympathetic). When we are under stress our nervous system goes into a fight or flight response and we release specific hormones from our adrenal glands (nebennierre) which help us manage the situation. The sympathetic response will constrict blood vessels, dilate the pupils, increase blood flow to the muscles and away from the digestive organs, and increases breakdown of muscle and fat tissue to be converted to blood sugar for energy. Also important is the increase in resting muscle tone.

In the parasympathetic state, the nervous system will stimulate hormones that dilate the blood vessels, bring more blood into the digestive organs, and reduces the pupil dilation. It increases stomach acid production which is crucial for protein digestion. It is a calmer state in which muscled tone will also be more relaxed. This is also the state where HEALING occurs.

When we do Crossfit or another high intensity training on a regular basis and have a lot other stress in our lives (work, family, kids, money, finanzamt, etc.), it has a CUMULATIVE (additiv) effect. We get stuck in a sympathetic state and it becomes harder for the body to go back into the parasympathic (rest and digest) state. We then have an excess of adrenal hormones in the body and a few things happen: We have more Cortisol in the body, we have more breakdown of muscle in the body in order to raise blood sugar, we have an excess of Insulin in circulation, and we begin to see changes in connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons due to the metabolites of adrenal hormone metabolism.

The result is increased abdominal fat, looser ligaments that lead to joint instability, burnout, and increased muscle tonus which may limit mobility.

It is my job to know the neurology; so how do I put this in simple terms? We need to stimulate the pontobulbar formation reticularis. Whah? We need to balance our aerobic and anaerobic systems through the stimulation of specific parts of the nervous system.

The best way to stimulate the PBFR is through slow endurance training. If your heart rate gets too high, it becomes stressful to the body and the nervous system goes into a sympathetic state. If we move our muscles and joints we automatically stimulate the PBFR and increase the parasympathetic activity. The trick is to do so without going past the point that puts us into a sympathetic state.

The way to do this is easy: Your heart rate during aerobic training should be:

180-age = maximum heart rate

There are a few situations that will adjust your range:

  1. If you are recovering from an illness, an operation, or on medication
    1. Subtract 10
  2. If you are just starting to exercise, recently injured, have frequent colds, flu, or allergies
    1. Substract 5
  3. If you have exercised for the last 2 years without problems and have not had colds or flu more than 1-2 times per year
    1. Subtract 0
  4. If you have exercised more than 2 years without any problems while making progress in competition without injury
    1. ADD 5

Example: 40 year old and had a recent injury: 180-40=140, then 140-5=135 beats per minute MAXIMUM for an aerobic heart rate.

Train 30 minutes 2x/week to balance your sports training or crossfit training. During the open, it would be optimal to do 30 minutes of aerobic activity the day after you do the workout. It will pump out all the lactic acid build up in the muscles and recovery will be maximised.

The best thing you can do is get a heart monitor and it will be easier to keep your heart rate at the proper range. If you don’t have a heart monitor, you should be able to talk and have a conversation without huffing and puffing while you work out.

Give it a try and you will start noticing a different feeling afterwards. Your body is actually calming down and different hormones are being released. Muscle tone is more relaxed and you will start to really feel the benefits of stress reduction and recovery through aerobic exercise.

Train for your sport, but it is important to have balance in your training.

Good Luck in the Open and I hope to see you at the Meridan Regionals in Madrid!

Jeffrey Kurtz, DC, CCSP, DIBAK
Box Doc