Rehab starts from the inside out, so does performance for that matter. I know that sounds like something you would read on a fortune cookie or a poster inviting you to an AA meeting but it’s true. The outcome of everything we do is influenced by the way we approach and perceive the task.
Here’s a quick example, most people are familiar with the term “Fight or Flight.” Fight or flight describes a state that we often go into when we perceive that there may be a threat to our safety. When you enter this state your body will respond in some pretty miraculous ways. It releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and mobilizes your internal resources, leveraging EVERYTHING in an all or nothing fashion, because to the nervous system this is “life or death.” Think of it like this, your body is a ship stuck in a storm, and as it crests a wave the captain (your nervous system) sees what it thinks is another maybe even larger wave, and so it directs the crew to start throwing everything overboard that isn’t bolted down. It doesn’t matter that your two weeks from making port because if you go down in the next five minutes you’re dead anyway.
This is an absolutely amazing response when you are indeed being chased by a bear, or you’re fighting for your life after being jumped in a dark alley… Not so much when you’re sitting an exam room talking to the physical therapist about the shoulder injury you sustained last week snatching, or skiing, or mountain biking.
Hold up did you catch that?
I just told you that the fight or flight response is meant to keep you alive in dangerous/potentially dangerous situations. Unless your physical therapist is a silverback gorilla you probably shouldn’t be experiencing anything that even vaguely resembles a fight or flight response.
Well, that’s exactly what happens, and it happens for a few reasons. The main underlying principle is that your body can’t tell the difference between what’s happening in your mind and what’s actually happening in real life. Don’t believe me? Check this out… in a study they brought in married couples and gave them both a small blister and then basically told them to bring up something from their past and argue about it, sounds like a great study to be part of right? Anyway, those who dredged up something from their past to proverbially body slam their spouse in a war of words, get this, experienced a 40% decrease in healing linked proteins.
So what? What does that mean?
It means that those people who did nothing more than have a conversation, one that shifted them into a fight or flight response, literally decreased their ability to produce the substances that facilitate healing… with a conversation. There was no battle, there was no predator, nothing. In theory the only two things at play were their spouse (the person they love more than anyone else in the world), and the narrative in their heads.
You see they created an ecosystem that was in fact ANTI healing. They were bathing their bodies in hormones neurotransmitters that signaled to their bodies that tomorrow does not matter, and “it’s time to burn it down because we might not make it through the night.”
You can’t put too much blame on those vindictive love birds though because most people who end up with and injury do the same exact thing, and it goes something like this, in fact let’s make this real for YOU.
“__________ (Insert preferred pain driven profanity if you’re so inclined) I just _________ (insert last injury experienced).” A day or two goes by and you’re still not feeling as good as you think you should be. “I wonder what actually happened. I’m still not able to __________ (insert activity). Will I ever be able to _________ (insert activity) again? Will I ever make it back to where I was before I was injured?” Since the activity you’re no longer able to participate in is important to you, you begin to feel as if you’re losing “who” you are. The margins and boundaries that you used to define yourself by feel as if they’re shrinking and blurring, and you begin to consider stepping away from ________ (insert activity) because it’s just too painful to deal with on a physical level and the risk of further injury is so mentally and emotionally taxing that it’s just not worth it.
Crazy thing is you were only injured 3 days ago so there’s absolutely no way you could be healed from anything, but that narrative in your head just ran you down a dark rabbit hole and now you’re marinating in the same hot tub of stress hormones as the happy couples we talked about earlier. If that’s the case how quickly do you think a rotator cuff surgery is going to heal? How quickly are you going to come back from a sprained ankle? How long before you can lift again after your back “went out”? Well according to the data… it could be about 40% longer.
It doesn’t have to be that way though, it just doesn’t you’re in control of your internal environment. You’re in control of the way your nervous system is perceiving your environment. You’re in control of the narrative and it can be as simple as something like this.
“__________ (Insert preferred pain driven profanity if you’re so inclined) I just _________ (insert last injury experienced). That sucks but I know my body is capable of healing and I know that I’m willing to put in the work to make that happen and/or find professionals that can help get me there.” There is no emergency, and no need to leverage resources to escape an imagined threat. Just readiness to heal.
If you’d like to learn more please leave a question or if you would like to apply to work with me click here.