Post-Training Struggle: How Stress Inhibits Recovery

Post-Training Struggle: How Stress Inhibits Recovery

visual depiction of stress

If you have been working out regularly and following a healthy diet, you may wonder why you still struggle to recover from training. How quickly you heal is influenced by several factors. Physical health, the current state of your immune system, and pre-existing conditions all have a role to play in recovery. This also includes stress. In this article, we will discuss exactly how stress inhibits recovery and the measures you can take to minimize its effects. 

Studies have shown that psychological stress can impact your immune system and hinder the repair process by the body. Ultimately, it impacts your ability to recover from workouts. When the body produces too much cortisol, it interferes with the synthesis of anti-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. As a result, your wounded region will remain inflamed and recovery will be hindered.

Relationship between stress and sleep

Cortisol is the hormone that influences your metabolism, immunity, and sleep pattern. High cortisol levels brought on as a result of chronic stress can negatively affect your sleeping patterns. Muscle recovery is enhanced during sleep through protein synthesis and the release of antibodies and human growth hormones. If you are not getting enough sleep, it can severely affect your ability to recover after a workout. Make sure you’re getting between 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal recovery.

Steps you can take to reduce stress levels

  • If you’re going through a stressful period, refrain from partaking in high-intensity exercises as it may increase physical stress on your body. When combined with psychological stress, recovery would be at an all-time low. Instead, ensure that your exercise under moderate intensity when going through prolonged psychological stress.
  • Consider going for a massage as it is known to help decrease stress by lowering the heart rate, relaxing, and releasing tension in the body. A massage encourages the body to release positive hormones, which include endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. The positive hormones counteract the adverse effects of cortisol.
  • Meditation is a very popular way to deal with stress. Meditation triggers the body’s relaxation response, which has the exact opposite effect on the body that stress does. Instead of increasing cortisol levels, it decreases them. It helps the body recover itself and prevents additional damage from the physical impacts of stress.  
  • Sleep plays a role in regulating cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol levels in the bloodstream can rise due to a bad night’s sleep or sleep deprivation. So, make sure you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep. This can be anywhere between 7-9 hours.

When exercising, managing your stress levels is crucial. After all, stress is the most significant factor that affects how fast your body recovers. Stress impairs the ability of the body to heal from workouts by increasing cortisol levels in the body. High cortisol level negatively affects the body’s sleeping patterns, leading to poor quality of sleep. Sleep is another huge factor that affects the rate at which your body recovers. To maximize recovery, it is important to reduce overall stress in the body. This can be done by going for a massage, meditating or ensuring you are getting above 7-9 hours of sleep.