Have you ever experienced post-work out panicking or an inability to wind down? Or have you ever connected the two? Unfortunately it can be one possible side effect of overworking your upper body or working with incorrect alignment.
Overstimulating your upper back and neck muscles, particularly for stressed people, can send the body into panic mode as these are the same muscles that activate when we sense danger. The brain takes this tension as an indication that you’re about to go into some kind of battle, and floods the body with stress chemicals such as adrenaline.
Increasing the blood flow, and thus relaxation around these tissues, helps reset the nervous system back into cruise-control by flooding the body with relaxation chemicals and endorphins.
Try the following to help keep you strong but calm:
1. Give equal attention to all parts of your body
Instead of just having an ‘arm day’ or ‘back day’, work the whole lot – you’re one whole body after all. Good instructors and classes will work this way.
2. Practise correct alignment
Your arm tissue begins at your tailbone and also has strong connections into your deep abdominals so whenever you’re using your arms be sure feel how they feed into the rest of your body.
For help with understanding and to practise correct form read my previous post here
3. Make time to re-balance
Stretch your neck, chest and upper back muscles to flood them with fresh blood, to reset the tissue tone, and to assist the detoxification of those stress hormones. Look here for the ideal upper body stretches to help wash away upper body tension.
Take a deep shoulder covering bath, with epsom / magnesium salts too if possible. Bathing in warm water helps relax your muscles and fascia, encourages deeper breathing offering a clearer, less fear-driven perspective on your problems. Epsom salts are a 100% natural muscle relaxant, they lower blood pressure and take the acidity out of the body helping you feel way more chilled out – just be careful if you have low blood pressure.
Taking gentle full belly breaths in and out through your nose will send a message to your brain to say you’re in a safe place. In turn, the brain will produce your calm chemistry which allows your muscles to relax and your whole system to soften and ease.