All athletes, and people in general will, at some point, be faced with an injury or set-back that requires downtime and physical, mental and even emotional repair. Breath is the one supportive mechanism that can aid in your ability to rest, repair, reduce pain and focus on positive outcomes.
When stress or injury is experienced in any form our mind and nervous system work to assess the issue subconsciously creating responsive mechanisms to help work on repairing the problem and this can happen in a variety of ways.
We feel pain as a way of understanding our relationship to the environment around us and pain is a way of protecting from further damage. There are also biochemical reactions that take place based on response signaling in the body such as neurochemicals that are released in the body to adapt, overcome and heal the injury or simply react to the stressor that is being experienced.
Our inner eco-system is an extraordinary environment that is in a constant state of monitoring and adjusting to keep us safe, alive and in homeostasis. When the body is burdened with an injury or an ailment the body needs time and resources in order to gain back balance.
Rest is critical, but rest is sometimes elusive due to discomfort and breath can play a major part in this process. Using slow, controlled and directional breathing can help maintain flexibility, increase the movement of blood and lymph fluid. It gives us something we can focus on as a distraction to the pain or emotional anguish we may feel when we are compromised from an injury.
Also, very importantly breath can act as a tool to help engage or shift from a sympathetic (commonly known as fight or flight) state to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. As the mind and body communicate through the channel of breathing there is a continuous feedback loop of understanding that helps us ultimately be aware of our stress levels and provide a method of control and reduction of the pain we experience.
One must keep in mind that stress and pain are not “dirty” words. Without these two mechanisms we would never be in balance and ultimately the feedback we gain from these concepts are important mechanisms to protect us. So as difficult as it may sound, we must face them with an optimistic nature and recognize that they are our partners in survival. If we see them in this manner, it is within that understanding that we can gain control over their grip and learn to trust our own repair capabilities.
Remembering your body requires the necessary building tools to recover so it is highly recommended that you maintain a healthy diet made up of natural and organic foods that contain the necessary vitamins and minerals to help repair. There are also a myriad of supplements that can be taken to assist in the process. Instead of getting into a debate of specifics here, keep in mind that the building blocks need to be in place, the amino acids, especially the EAAs or Essential Amino Acids that give us the capacity to rebuild tissue and muscle. Also, hydration, and by this we mean activated water, or with mineral content, not stripped and filtered water that actually can dehydrate the body.
(We will talk about hydration in detail as another time as it is critical on so many levels.)
Remember our bodies are elegant machines and based on that perspective you must provide the machine with the best fuel possible to repair effectively. Having a well-functioning respiratory capacity is very important in recovery. Training our respiratory muscles on a regular basis can keep us prepared, and in a condition to facilitate the gas exchange necessary to aid in pain relief and provide the proper environment that aids repair.
If physically possible and cleared by your physician, using a tool like Airofit during recovery can help facilitate the concepts mentioned above on every level. It will also allow you to track your ability to make progress by virtue of strengthening and creating flexibility in your respiratory capacity. Optimal oxygen delivery is important when the body is working to recover, allowing the breath to open up the body and release patterns of pain. Very important, as our natural protection mechanisms work to tighten, restrict and protect, which diminishes movement and confidence in the recovery process.
Whenever you are faced with a setback or injury, remember that your breath can get you back to your center and alleviate your pain, depression and emotional trauma that can be associated with the process. Like a good insurance policy, if you train your respiratory capacity regularly you will be prepared for those times you need to recover and if you are not currently recovering from something, you will be happier, healthier and less stressed by doing so.
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