(Read to the end for this awesome Hack!)
Have you ever had those days or weeks where your schedule and sport/training push your body to its limits?
But after it all, you’re still staying up until 3AM or have a terrible night’s sleep just to do it all over again the next day?
It may be that you are stuck in a state of Sympathetic Drive or “fight or flight” (we’ve all heard of this before) and unable to “turn off the internal light switch”.
Our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), a branch of our autonomic nervous system, is responsible for directing the body’s automatic responses to stressful or harmful stimuli (work, training, sport, LIFE). This regulatory system is a vital part of being able to perform, and at a top level. If you take a look around you, so many things contribute to this (the endless usage of screens, caffeine, current work culture, family, and other life stressors).
However, as you get done with your day, you have to be able to tap into its counterpart, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The PNS’s responsability is to allow you to “rest and digest” as it helps you regulate all of our resting functions (lowering heart rate, slowing breathing, regulating digestion…Recovery!).
Imagine, not being able to effectively move in and out of each of these states on a daily basis?
It’s like the scenario I talked about before or it could even be the lack of energy and inability to find a rhythm in practice or training. This perpetual cycle is commonly referred to as overtraining syndrome.
Poor recovery leads to crap performance-- Every. Single. Time.
Like the pic below showing how supercompensation (training-fatigue cycle) works, but imagine each peak following the first one isn’t quite as tall or showing a similar pattern but down to the right— showing a negative adaptation from session to session. Our inability to perform using a stimulus or training load strong enough for positive adaptation doesn’t allow us to progress. We can't even get to a training load high enough if we haven't recovered from our training session from a few day or a few weeks ago (yes, old training sessions dictate and influence future training sessions). Instead, we get stagnation, frustration, and injury as the demand on ourselves goes up over time, we must be able to meet that demand, or we don't.
It all starts with how well we are able to recover.
As shown in the Vagus Nerve diagram above, the Vagus Nerve is the bridge that meshes the SNS and PNS together. It's no shock that decreased activity or utilization of the Vagus Nerve can lead to poor recovery and poor performance!
Deep Self-Visceral Manipulation can help!
Here’s what you’ll need:
✔️A squishy Pilates ball
✔️Some open space to lay down
How to do it:
✔️Lay face-down on the floor, table or bed.
✔️Place ball in a comfortable position at or just above your belly button
✔️Toss on your favorite white noise recording🎧
✔️For 10-15 minutes lay on the ball and try to find a “soft stomach”, then wrap it around the ball to allow for greater depth.
✔️Every 2 minutes rotate your hips in small circles around the ball to adjust and find a new spot (ball does not have to move far).
PS: If you feel like you’re going to fall asleep…that’s okay! You’ll feel better by the time you’re done. DON’T USE THIS TECHNIQUE DIRECTLY BEFORE A TRAINING SESSION OR GAME!
Dylan Church, LAT, ATC
Thryve Healing and Performance Sports Medicine