Did You Know That If You’re Injured, Worry Can Make it Worse?
Even worse, worrying about it might delay recovery time.
If you’re injured, it may seem like there’s a straightforward path to recovery. Unfortunately, the truth is far from that if you’re chronically stressed. The body is like a multi-floor skyscraper, with trillions of different offices and personnel in its confines on a daily basis. In a word, complex.
In sports, work, and recreational activities, muscular injuries are far from just a mechanical breakdown. The body can’t be healed with the application of the right parts, such as the way an automobile can be fixed.
Humans have something unique to that of machines: a mind of their own. In our minds, complex events occur that can alter how the body responds to injury. One of these events is quite common and may seem familiar: stress. Your brain plays a complex role in both the healing and the maintenance of your body. It also regulates stress.
How Does the Stress Response Work?
This part of the equation is easy to understand and is unfortunately familiar to many humans. Starting with your eyes and ears processing a stressful situation, this is sent to the Amygdala, an area that controls emotional processing.
The Amygdala makes a snap judgment – if the images or sounds are judged to be dangerous, it sends a signal of distress to the brain’s hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus is almost like a switchboard at this point. When the switch is turned “on”, it sends signals to the body’s adrenal glands which then pump the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenalin) throughout the body.
The epinephrine is responsible for the alert feeling you get when you encounter a dangerous or off-putting situation. Your heart rate will increase, your alertness will become heightened, and your pupils will dilate, as your body perceives its exposed to extreme harm.
While this response may seem beneficial, it can cause irreparable repair if it’s chronically activated. Some of the damage the stress response can cause could even make its way towards your muscles.
How Can Stress Make Your Injury Worse?
Stress can manifest itself in more ways than a heightened response to a situation. Stress can cause muscles to squeeze down on capillaries and prevent blood from properly flowing.
If you’re injured, this is particularly bad. Your muscles need proper nutrients and blood flow to heal and recover. If they’re deprived of these things it can be incredibly difficult for them to recover from an injury or from a workout.
Stress Can Delay Recovery?
If you didn’t see the initial connection, it should be clear now. When you’re recovering from an injury, you need to ensure that the area gets proper nutrients, water, and blood flow. As we stated above, the recovering muscle(s) can’t get anything like this if stress is present.
Furthermore, stress also affects the ability of humans to recover from injury in time by promoting unhealthy behavior. Smoking and alcohol consumption can be incredibly damaging to the muscular recovery process.
If you find yourself injured – relax..
Limiting the stress in your life, which is, admittedly, easier said than done, can only be a good thing. If you limit stressors and compulsive behaviours that can manifest themselves when stress is experienced, this can help you on the road to recovery.
If in any doubt then have a chat with your healthcare professional who should be able to set your mind at ease. You may surprise yourself and find that you’re happier even after the first appointment when you know more about what’s going on.
You’ll be much more relaxed about things once you’ve spoken to someone about the issue. It’s important to know what’s going on, what’s going to happen and importantly, what you can do to help yourself.
Book yourself in for an appointment with your healthcare professional to set your mind at ease.