All about adrenal fatigue

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In the last 15 years I have seen literally thousands of clients. One thing I notice increasing is the number of clients with adrenal fatigue.

In the last few months adrenal fatigue has been in the headlines. It is often called the stress disease of the new century.  Many clients we see at Advance Physiotherapy are flat out with work, sport, their children, training for an event, or just holding on to the rat race of life.  Many clients present with tight joints, muscle imbalances, poor posture and movement pattern dysfunction. This adds an additional stressor to the already stressed body, and in that stressed state the body has a difficult time healing itself.

When the body experiences any stress, be it emotional stress (losing a loved one), physical stress (breaking a bone or pulling a muscle), or psychological stress (too much work to do), it releases stress hormones like cortisol and other chemicals that basically put you into a fight or flight response. This is okay short term. However, when your body is running on stress hormones and chemicals for most of the day every day, it places the body into survival mode by:

  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Increased heart rate
  • Suppressed  immune system
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Inhibits the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel
  • Increased sugar cravings

Other risks of prolonged, increased cortisol lead to osteoporosis, reduced muscle mass and increased abdominal fat. Over time the adrenal glands become overworked and this leads to what is called adrenal fatigue.  Many of our clients rely on stimulants such as caffeine to get going in the morning and then they are still stressed and buzzing at the end of the day, so rely on alcohol to wind down in order to go to sleep.  Generally speaking you are not going to have a good outcome if you live like this.

Research is starting to show that the only real way to decrease cortisol and support your adrenals is a multi-staged approach. Exercise has been found to release endorphins, which then offsets any cortisol being released.  It is important that your nutrition needs are met during exercise. Having carbohydrates combined with a protein, post-workout, will replenish your glucose and nitrate levels, thus bringing cortisol levels back under control faster.

Research suggest that deep diaphragmatic breathing reduces your cortisol levels if combined with deliberate prolonged exhalation.  So stress management and deep diaphragm breathing is a must. Doing relaxation yoga, massage, soaking in a bath, taking a relaxing stroll along the river are all things that reduce your cortisol levels. Doing things like this will make you happy, keep you active and will relax your mind and your body.  At Advance Physiotherapy we have started a yoga class specifically designed to relax the body and support the adrenals.

Getting enough sleep is also very important. The body needs eight hours of sleep per night.  With good sleep the body can reduce the cortisol levels and actually start to heal the damage from within. The three most common supplements that can help with supporting the adrenals and reducing cortisol are;

  • Magnesium Magnesium deficiency increases anxiety and depression
  • Vitamin C Vitamin C is essential for adrenal function.
  • Ashwaghanda Research is showing that ashwaghanda decreases anxiety, improves function and improves sleep.
    (Make sure you discuss any supplements you want to take with your doctor or health care provider.)

I constantly tell my clients: “If you are spending time and energy trying to build a perfect machine, you’d better give it an OFF button.”
The body is not a perfect machine, and when you run it every day to its capacity; injuries, fatigue, and other issues will come up.

So take time to hit the “OFF” button, don’t just stop moving but really learn to relax and enjoy life.  You might just find that you have more energy to enjoy the benefits of life.

www.advancephysio.co.nz

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