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Muscle Soreness Body Fatigue Exercise Recovery Is Important & Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

I recently embarked on what some people (me) would describe as an intensive exercise regime, and was unable to walk properly for the following week.

Getting out of bed required enormous willpower, walking down stairs was a precarious and daunting challenge, and bending to pick something up off the ground was out of the question.

I learnt my lesson, and vowed never to exercise again.

(No, no. Just kidding! Exercise is very important. Don’t stop.)

It was a good reminder, though, of the importance of exercise recovery, both to ease the pain of sore muscles and to keep consistency to my workout routine.

So, to find out how it’s best done, I called recovery scientist and former director of the Australian Olympic Committee’s Recovery Centre, Shona Halson.

“People tend to think of recovery as ice baths and compression garments,” said Dr Halson, who is also an associate professor at the Australian Catholic University.

“But recovery is the foundational things like sleep and nutrition.

“Those are the things we should all be doing well. The other techniques … they’re more like the icing on the cake.”

Firstly, why am I so sore?

A couple of things can happen when we exercise: fatigue and soreness.

“The fitter you are and the more accustomed you are to doing a particular type of exercise, the less fatigue and soreness you’re likely to have,” Dr Halson said.

But the type of exercise matters too.

Muscle fatigue typically arises from exercise that involves “concentric contractions” (where the muscle is shortening) and no impact with the ground such as swimming and cycling.

“You can swim for hours, you can cycle for hours. And you burn fuel, but you don’t really get super sore, you get more tired,” Dr Halson said.

Muscle soreness, on the other hand, comes about after exercise that involves the lengthening of muscles.

This can break the connections between muscle fibres, causing inflammation and swelling.

“That swelling causes the soreness,” Dr Halson explained.

The microscopic damage our muscles accrue can be the result of impact with the ground, for example through running, or with another person if you play contact sport.

It also happens when we force our muscles to work harder than usual, or exercise muscle groups we don’t normally use.

“Weight training is another type of exercise typically associated with soreness,” Dr Halson said.

“You have some shortening muscle contractions, but you also usually have some lengthening contractions, and it’s those lengthening contractions that cause the soreness.”

While the fatigue most people feel from activities like cycling and swimming tends to go away quickly, soreness from damaged muscle fibres can last for a few days.

Soreness isn’t a bad sign

If it takes up to 72 hours for soreness to go away after exercise, it’s probably a sign that you have induced a fair bit of muscle damage, Dr Halson said.

While it’s not much fun at the time, making progress with your fitness usually means pushing yourself a little bit more each time, she said.

“You’re not going to keep improving if you don’t generate some soreness and fatigue. It’s part of the process.”

That being said, soreness that doesn’t go away after three to five days may be a sign you’ve pushed yourself too hard.

If you are trying to build up your exercise routine, it’s important to do it gradually, and allow your muscles to adapt and repair.

But what if I’m a regular exerciser?

Consistent exercise provides somewhat of a protective effect against muscle fatigue and soreness.

“You’re still putting stress and strain through the muscles … it’s just you adapt,” Dr Halson said.

However, people who regularly work out still encounter muscle soreness because they’re often building their strength or aerobic fitness over time.

“You’ll up your weights, or try to run a bit further or a bit faster,” she said.

“Often, if you do exercise that you haven’t done before and you exercise quite extremely, it can be really painful.”

What’s the best way to recover?

Sleep is the answer

“Sleep is the most powerful recovery strategy that you have,” according to Dr Halson.

It’s well known sleep is important for brain function and memory consolidation. But, she said, it also plays a key role in restoring and repairing muscle tissue.

“Sleep is one of the most active times both from a physical and mental recovery perspective. There’s hormone release, muscle repair and restoring of the brain.”

Stay hydrated

When we exercise, our muscles initially use their stores of carbohydrates for fuel, before burning fat.

Sports drinks, which typically contain water and electrolytes for rehydration and carbohydrates (as sugars) for energy, were originally designed to replenish fluid and provide extra fuel for intense, long-lasting exercise.

But water should meet most people’s fluid requirements unless you’re a professional athlete, Dr Halson said.

“It’s important to rehydrate if you’ve lost fluid, and one of the best ways is to measure yourself pre and post-[workout], and replace 150 per cent of what you’ve lost.”

When it comes to food, Dr Halson said it was important to replenish any carbohydrates depleted during exercise, and protein — the main nutrient needed for muscle repair.

If you’re doing high intensity interval training or weight lifting, for example, you might want to focus especially on protein. If you work out is predominantly cardio-based, you should be looking at carbohydrate replacement.

“It just depends on your activity.”

Compression can work

While compression garments aren’t necessary for most people’s exercise recovery, Dr Halson said they can help reduce the perception of soreness.

“There are a couple of theories behind compression garments,” she said.

“One of the main ones is that the tightness [of the garment] basically compresses the superficial veins close to the skin, particularly in the legs, and that forces the blood to flow through deeper vessels.”

That increase in blood flow can help to clear “some of the waste products” in the blood, she said.

“That can be good for inflammation and swelling, which we know is what partly causes that soreness.”

Ice, ice baby

Ice baths are a popular recovery tool for athletes, and for good reason; like compression garments, water can be compressive.

“There’s hydrostatic pressure in water, so it has that similar effect on blood flow,” Dr Halson said.

But the benefits of ice baths can be achieved without actually filling up a bath tub with ice.

“As long as the water is colder than your skin temperature [about 34 degrees Celsius] … it will eventually cool you down.”

That means jumping into a cold swimming pool or the ocean after exercising can help to reduce soreness. Even a cold shower — though it won’t provide the hydrostatic pressure of a body of water — isn’t a bad place to start.

But what about the effects of freezing cold… air?

Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves exposing the body to freezing or near-freezing temperatures for several minutes, and its use has grown in recent years.

“There is a little bit of science … mainly in patients with rheumatic arthritis or an inflammatory disease,” Dr Halson said.

“But what you don’t get with cryotherapy chambers … is the hydrostatic pressure of water.”

Dr Halson said the evidence for water immersion was stronger. Plus, a dip in the ocean is free.

Stretch if you feel like it

For something so many of us do either before or after exercise, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence that stretching is effective at reducing injury risk.

“A lot of athletes say that if they don’t stretch, they feel more sore the next day,” Dr Halson said.

“But in terms of scientific evidence to say we should be stretching after exercise, there’s not a huge amount.”

For those who find it beneficial, there’s no reason to stop, she said.

“Stretching can be something that might reduce soreness and stiffness, especially if you’re someone that’s doing something you’re not really accustomed to.”

Listen to your body

Sometimes, when your muscles are feeling sore or fatigued, it can be helpful to do some gentle exercise to “work through the soreness and stiffness”.

But taking periods of rest is also important.

“If you look at elite athletes, even they would have one day a week off,” Dr Halson said.

“So, I think your average person should be looking to have at least one day [per week] of complete rest.”

The most important thing to do is listen to your body.

“If you are a bit sore, starting to get really tired, maybe not concentrating at work, or you feel like you might be getting sick, having a day off in the long run is probably better for you.”

By: Olivia Willis

Source: Muscle soreness? Body fatigue? Exercise recovery is important, and shouldn’t be overlooked – Health – ABC News

Stretching is a great way to minimize post workout soreness. Using ice packs and massaging sore muscles also can help with any sore spots. Premier Health Physical Therapist, Greg Schultz, talks more about how to minimize post-workout soreness. #Conditioning

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Three Ways To Fight The Stigma Of Mental Illness

People struggling with mental illness, from the mildest and most routine to the intractable and utterly devastating, are also burdened by the stereotypes and prejudices of stigmatization. The stigma of mental illness interferes with getting needed care and causes social isolation and alienation. This is not how things should be. Instead, people with emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems, regardless of whether the causes are external traumas or circumstances, internal events, or some combination, should be given the same respect and access to treatment as someone dealing with a mild sprain, a flu, or a life-threatening cancer. Healthcare should be healthcare. But it’s not. And stigmatization is largely to blame.

Everyone has a stake in fighting stigmatization. With around 1 in 5 Americans suffering from a mental illness over the course of a year, chances are pretty good you either are, have been, or are close to someone bearing the burden by stigma. The fight to reduce that burden really should involve everyone. So, after some context, I want to talk about three ways anyone can join the fight.

The context of stigma

Regardless of good intentions, people tend to perceive anyone whose psychological problems are worse than one’s own as “them” and not “us.” They are “other.” For the really serious problems there tends to be a perception of people as dangerous and deserving social isolation; we should “lock ‘em up!” People with milder conditions often confront a “weak-not-sick” attitude; they should “just get over it.”

These stereotypes help create social and emotional distance between the stigmatizing and the stigmatized. By creating this distance people can nurture the comforting fiction that instead of a fine line there’s a large gap between the mentally ill (them!) and the mentally well (us, whew!!). But that’s a myth. The line is very fine. They is us.

Sure, people differ in how psychologically resilient they may be, just like how people differ in how physically resilient they may be. But the fundamental reality about mental illness is that it can, and often does, happen to anyone. The social and emotional distance people create is just a way to avoid the anxious-making reality that things like depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, behavioral disorders, and the rest can strike anyone. Just like with physical illnesses where a wayward cell or pathogen can strike anyone, mental illness can strike anyone anywhere. We take illusory comfort from the distance stigma creates.

Stigma is insidious. A recent experience from my clinical practice illustrates the burden of stigmatization people with a mental illness must carry. A young man shows up at the ER complaining of an unusual set of symptoms: nausea, trembling, tingling in his legs, numbness around his mouth, and weakness in his hands. He also had an extensive history of mental illness, although he was psychiatrically asymptomatic at the time of this visit and doing very well.

But after the ER doc learned of this history, he quickly sent the patient home with a vague reassurance not worry since it was probably just a panic attack. Of course, it wasn’t. Happily he’s now under the care of an excellent neurologist and making progress. But this episode shows stigma’s insidious influence in stark relief.

Stigmatization is also pervasive. It has a broad social reach. Just consider the marketing campaigns of companies like Talkspace and Betterhelp who broke into the mental health marketplace with promises of anonymous therapy. Leaving aside the problem that anonymous therapy violates various codes of professional ethics, the promise of anonymity as an initial marketing ploy both builds on and enhances the stigmatization against which we should all be fighting.

It cynically trades on the pervasiveness of stigmatization, otherwise it wouldn’t work. What they did is like confronting racial bigotry by saying people should just try to pass or telling a gay person they should stay in the closet. Anonymity validates the prejudice that one should keep secret one’s struggles with mental health.

The fact that this marketing ploy appealed to so many, and it did, also highlights what’s called in the literature “self-stigma.” That’s the term used to refer to the fact that people internalize stigmatization so that it functions as an obstacle to seeking help and therefore as a magnifier of suffering. For example, one study of college students showed that the more people perceive stigma operating in the world the more they blame themselves for having problems and the more they resist seeking care. Other people’s prejudices about mental illness became their attitudes toward their own suffering and towards seeking help.

There’s actually lots more to say about stigma. There’s even an official APA journal specifically on the topic: Stigma and Health. But hopefully this has been enough to activate interest and maybe motivate at last some action. At least I hope you agree the fight against stigma is worth some attention. Here are three things anyone can do to join the fight.

Support an organization

There are lots of organizations taking the fight to stigma, both generally and for specific communities, like groups fighting the stigma on mental health care that exists in Asian American communities.. A great way to lessen the burden stigma imposes is by finding an organization that resonates with you and then supporting it.

But be careful, you don’t want to get caught in the paradox of choice so you end up doing nothing. Don’t over think. Instead, dive in and be helpful. Whether you donate money or time, or express support in some way, find an organization that speaks to you and support it.

Here are two stigma-fighting organizations I support.

The first is a group called “Phd Balance.” Graduate student mental health is their focus. Their mission is to show that students pursuing advanced academic degrees who are, quoting their mission statement, “dealing with mental health issues are NOT less capable, are NOT less intelligent, are NOT less creative, are NOT failures … [they] might just need support and a different set of tools.”

They pursue this mission by creating spaces where mental health issues can be openly and safely discussed and by curating resources that can be useful for those pursing both an advanced degree and a healthy balance in their lives. As a former graduate student myself, and someone who now treats and works with several people pursuing doctorates, this groups resonates with my interests and values. So, I want to help them achieve their goals. They have my support.

The other organization is The Ride for Mental Health. Started by an attorney, Malcom (“Mac”) Dorris who lost his son to an intractable and ultimately fatal mental illness, this event is a two day bike-ride through the Hudson Valley in New York. Its mission is both to raise funds for research (McLean Hospital’s research programs being the current beneficiary) and, quoting their mission statement, “to end the stigma surrounding mental illness through education and awareness.” I’ve ridden all three years of this growing event and am already looking forward, and spreading the work, about next year’s ride. Not only is it a wonderful ride on gorgeous roads, participation is a way to do good by having fun.

Tell your story

Stigma lives in darkness, in shame. Bringing stories of struggle into the light weakens it. The social distance and self-stigma that comes from the “them not us” myth can’t survive people telling the story of how they, or their loved ones, experienced emotional suffering. Truth destroys stigma.

Truth telling is actually how Phd Balance began. Its efforts to “increase visibility and awareness for students and to let those struggling know they are not alone” began with Susanna Harris, the founder and a graduate student in microbiology, telling her story of depression and anxiety in a moving video monologue. Sinking into a depression after an academic setback, she spoke up about the experience rather than hiding in silence. Phd Balance grew out of her courage and she has inspired many more to do the same.

I also had an email exchange with Mac Dorris from The Ride for Mental Health about this. He told me that after his son Eric died he “suddenly had a key to everyone else’s story or stories about mental illness.” He recounted being at a business dinner and telling Eric’s story to a new business associate who “responded by telling me that he lost his brother years earlier under very similar circumstances.”

He also shared a story about a colleague of his who had previously lost a son to what was called an unusual heart aliment. When he called Mac to express condolences for Eric’s death “I told him that I was sorry I had joined the club of having a kid pre-decease us. He then explained that his son didn’t die from the heart ailment but from an accidental overdose and that he suffered with mental illness.”

Stories brought to light reduce shame. And one person’s story really can be the key to unlock someone else’s story from the shackles of shame and stigma.

Stop perpetuating it

This one is simple; don’t make things worse. If you insult someone by saying they’re “crazy” or “nuts” you’re inadvertently perpetuating stigma. Same when you judge someone to be “less than” because you found out they’ve been in therapy of years and years. There’s even research showing that even benign, diagnostically accurate labels result in harsher, more negative judgements.

Unfortunately, mental illness is frequently used to explain bad behavior. Instead of describing a mass shooter as a murderer with too easy access to weapons of war, we make them into mental patients as though the illness explains the evil. It doesn’t, any more than one could say someone became a mass murderer because of their diabetes.

We have a particularly pernicious version of this these days. During the Trump presidency mental health professionals have unfortunately fallen into the stigma-supporting trap of explaining his bad behavior with a diagnosis. I firmly believe there are many things that make him unfit for the office such as his racism, history of sexual predation, constant dishonesty, science denial, invitations for Russian election interference and subsequent obstruction, family separations, and historical ignorance, especially about immigration, to name a few.

Just this week he stood in front of an audience of 9/11 first responders and lied about his participation. Of course, your politics may be such that you do not think such reasons disqualify him. OK, difference of opinion. But saying those qualities are symptoms of a mental illness will not convince anyone of his unfitness. I believe the reality is that a mental illness is not what is making him unfit for the office, anymore than someone with a mental illness is unfit to be a lawyer, a plumber, a teacher or any other job or profession. What makes him unfit is how he does what he does, a constellation of evil actions that spells the end of the American experiment. I believe we should not insult people with mental illness by implying it is illness rather than his dishonorable actions that make him unfit for his office. Doing so merely supports the stigma.

And always remember, they is us.

Follow me on Twitter.

I’m a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. For 20 plus years I’ve been practicing on 12th Street, around the corner from what used to be the Forbes Building and right in the middle of New York’s digital revolutions. Having written for professional audiences and become a not infrequent source (e.g., Wired, New York, NY Times, The Today Show) I decided to put my ideas out there myself. First at True/Slant, then Psychology Today, and now at Forbes, my “beat” includes clinical insights and research developments useful for building an authentically good life in our increasingly complex and technologically-mediated world, along with identifying those choices that promise more than they can deliver. Along with my full-time private practice I’m a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute.

Source: Three Ways To Fight The Stigma Of Mental Illness

Regular Exercise ‘Best for Mental Health – BBC News

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Regular physical activity lasting 45 minutes three to five times a week can reduce poor mental health – but doing more than that is not always beneficial, a large US study suggests.

A total of 1.2 million people reported their activity levels for a month and rated their mental wellbeing.

People who exercised had 1.5 fewer “bad days” a month than non-exercisers, the study found.

Team sports, cycling and aerobics had the greatest positive impact.

All types of activity were found to improve mental health no matter people’s age or gender, including doing the housework and looking after the children.

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal, is the largest of its kind to date but it cannot confirm that physical activity is the cause of improved mental health.

Previous research into the effects of exercise on mental health have thrown up mixed results, and some studies suggest that lack of activity could lead to poor mental health as well as being a symptom of it.

Exercise is already known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Adults taking part in the study said they experienced on average 3.4 days of poor mental health each month. For those who were physically active, this reduced to only two days.

Among people who had been diagnosed previously with depression, exercise appeared to have a larger effect, resulting in seven days of poor mental health a month compared with nearly 11 days for those who did no exercise.

How often and for how long people were active was also important.

Being active for 30 to 60 minutes every second day came out as the optimal routine.

But there could be such a thing as doing too much exercise, the study concluded.

Dr Adam Chekroud, study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University, said: “Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case.

“Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions is associated with worse mental health.”

He said the positive impact of team sports suggested that social sports activities could reduce isolation and be good for resilience, while also reducing depression.

Complicated link

The findings back up government guidelines recommending that people should do 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

But the study has some limitations. It is based on self-reporting, which is not always accurate, and there is no way of measuring physical activity.

Dr Dean Burnett, neuroscientist and honorary research associate, from the school of psychology at Cardiff University, said the link between exercise and mental health had been difficult to pin down but this large study “strongly suggests that there is a definite association between the two”.

“However, the nature of the study means it’s difficult to say more than that with any real certainty,” he said.

Prof Stephen Lawrie, head of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said it indicated that social and “mindful” exercise is particularly good for mental health – but not if it is overdone.

“I suspect we all know people who seem ‘addicted’ to exercise and if this starts to impact on other aspects of life – like foregoing social activities because one has to be up at the crack of dawn to run several miles – it might actually be bad for people,” he added.

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