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Whatever is in the Mind is in the Body

Our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and beliefs all influence our state of mind, which in turns influences the state that our body is in.

When we feel stressed, our heart rate and blood pressure increases, we have a change in hormones, and certain organ functions are down-regulated. We can also feel the physical effects of stress in our body, like butterflies in our stomach, sweaty palms, heart pounding in chest, etc. But what about the effects that we don’t necessarily notice, such as the effects in our musculoskeletal system?

In a state of increased stress, or increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity, the mechanics of the body changes - our proprioception decreases, fine motor skills decrease, and muscular tension increases. This is because if we in a life threatening situation, fine motor skills and proprioception aren’t important for survival – strength and speed are important. Strength to fight, or speed for flight. You may have heard of the amazing feats of strength that people perform when under huge amounts of SNS activity, such as people lifting cars off children.

However, if the stress becomes chronic, then strength doesn’t increase – it decreases. I demonstrate this on my clients, many of whom are in a chronic stressed state, by performing certain strength tests whilst applying either a stressful stimulus or inspirational stimulus. In the former they fail, in the latter they pass.

This means that you will squat less if you are thinking about a stressful event/person than if you were thinking about someone who inspires you. It means your movement of day-to-day living will be heavier and harder if you’re in a stressed state than if you’re in a relaxed state.

It’s why calming the mind is the best thing you can do prior to exercise. It physically puts you into a better state - a more resilient state - which means you can lift more, train more, and do more.


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