Sickness and our bodies…
What to do when sickness strikes…and how to try and avoid it!
For many of us sickness, be it a cold, stomach bug or flu, is a blight on our training progress. We feel like crap and it affects our training! How do we train, or know when to train through a downturn in our wellness?!
Well lets start with a simple analogy. Your body is like a cup, it has a certain amount of capacity to deal with and adapt to stressors, be it germs, training, divorce, money worries, kids crying in the middle of Tesco’s, flooded kitchens etc etc. Our body views them all as a stressor. If we keep on filling the cup with stressors then eventually we will cause it to overflow and make a mess everywhere. Read more on this here.
We need to see sickness and chronic overuse injury as the cup overflowing. Our body has too many stressors and can’t deal with or adapt to them, this manifests itself in injury or sickness. So these are massive warning signals that for some reason or other we have pushed too hard and need to step back a bit. Our body needs to rest so that it can recover.
They key here is to know that the body can adapt to and recover from stressors like training, sickness or injury and come back stronger for it. Only if we allow it too however.
If you begin to get a sore throat and sniffle, don’t just write it off as ‘nothing’ and don’t just take those ‘man up’ pills and crack on with training. The infection you have has caused your immune system to kick in and this shows up as pain/discomfort, listen to that! Taking 1-2 days off training could give the body time to fight off whatever sickness you have caught. This could prevent you having to take a week or more off further down the line. In terms of training, 2 days off is going to make very little difference…a week is slightly more damaging though. The same theory stands true for a niggly muscle strain.
The problem is that as humans, we tend to be slow learners in this department and we always think more is better. Sore elbow? Lets smash legs and loads of running…a week later, sore knee…uh oh. Bit of a sniffle? Ahhhhh it will be ok…train through it and the week after you have full blown flu and you are lain up in bed for days on end.
Learn to view your body as one organism. A sore elbow, or cold, or cough requires resources to fix. This means that the rest of your body doesn’t have as many resources to recover from other stressors. So if you keep training hard around sickness or injury, the chances of said injury or sickness being prolonged are high, the chances of picking up another sickness or injury are also high!
What to do?
I would advise that you wind back a bit in terms of training intensity and external stressors when ill or injured. If you have a cold or a niggle, just go a bit easier in class, or do some gentle aerobic work. Avoid poor food choices and keep eating high quality meat, veg and fats with some veg based carbs.
Have a think about this, some of the stressors that are particularly bad for injury/illness are listed below…these are just the obvious ones.
- More intense training.
- Lack of sleep
- Poor nutrition
- Obsessing over when you will be back to full fitness…we all do this I think
If you are sick or injured on regular occasion, take a serious look at how hard you train and wether you allow yourself to recover from it fully or not.
Some ongoing basics to keep you healthy are:
- Lots of fruit and veg in your daily diet
- Being aware of lifestyle stressors…busy few weeks of socialising ahead? Make adjustments elsewhere e.g. make an effort to get better sleep on the days you aren’t, scale back any intensity in the gym etc.
- Blood flow daily – move in some way shape or form, gym, walking, swimming or just some yoga in the living room!
- Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep…sleep!
- Some basic supplements – Vitamin D, Vitamin C and possibly a multivitamin might be worth an investment as long as they are not seen as replacements for real food!
Lets all try and get through this winter period with as little sickness as possible! This gym WILL be the healthiest gym in Bishops Stortford 🙂
If you are keen to learn more about how to care for yourself, keep fit and stay strong then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org