Rest is best
I’ve always struggled to relax and wind down. I’m one of those people on the go all the time, who feels they could be more productive than they are, scrutinising the clock to see if I can squeeze more things in. I often feel I could be training more than I am and, with the recent move to Manchester, there’s so many classes I want to go to.
A couple of evenings ago I was at a Krav Maga gym and was holding the pad when my training partner accidentally knocked it into my throat. It felt painful, but I brushed it off and finished the class. I woke up in the night and had all the symptoms of tonsillitis, only I wasn’t ill. I was completely floored the following day and reluctantly stayed at home thinking of all the things I should be doing, but couldn’t.
It’s not unusual for throat trauma to cause the lymph nodes to swell up and for the body to deal with this minor injury by enforcing rest. Part of me considered defying how I felt and carrying on regardless, but it led me to write this post as I reflected on over-training and how rest days are often sacrificed and not particularly important.
Over-training in its broadest sense is the imbalance between training and recovery; if sufficient rest is not included in a training program then regeneration cannot occur and performance plateaus. The most common symptom is fatigue as well as becoming moody, depressed, losing enthusiasm for training and disrupted sleep patterns. Persistent muscle soreness, an increase in illness (especially viral), hormonal disturbances (linked to elevated levels of cortisol and pregnenolone) and an increase in injuries can all be physical symptoms of over-training.
Our culture values doing over being; our worth is measured in productivity and output; simply being isn’t enough and this mindset carries over to all areas of our life. Here are some of the ways that help me to wind down and give myself a chance to recover:
DIGITAL DETOX | I turn off the wi-fi, put all of my devices out of sight and spend time alone, writing, reading, listening to music and reconnecting with myself. An hour, an afternoon or a weekend, whatever my schedule allows, really is a tonic for being in such a hyper-connected, over-stimulated world.
SAUNA | It’s hard to multi-task in a sauna; you can’t check your phone or be distracted so it’s the perfect place to go and unwind, especially as the nights draw in and Winter approaches. This place is on my to-visit list.
MASSAGE | I use one of these, especially on my neck and shoulders where I carry a lot of tension.
SLEEP | 8 hours is my ideal time; it’s the best recovery aid out there.
NOURISH | What I eat is just as important as training; without good food I won’t be able to perform well or recover so I always cook from scratch and avoid sugar (especially if my energy is low and I feel I need it to pep me up). My love of dark chocolate grows darker every year and not much beats this 100% bar.
NATURE | I leave my phone behind and go out for a walk and look at the trees, the seasons changing and enjoy the fresh air – whatever the weather.
EPSOM BATH | I like to run a hot bath and add some of this to it.
NAP | I am not one of those people who can nap in the day, but even just closing my eyes for 10 mins and shutting off from the routine of the day feels good.
An interesting study was published this month which has shed light on the process of joint tissue repair and regeneration in humans which mirrors the ability of zebrafish and salamander to regrow limbs. Our current understanding is that human cartilage cannot regenerate itself, or at least, only to a very limited degree and is why repetitive joint injuries often lead to the breakdown of cartilage and eventually, osteoarthritis.
The definitive list of all the barefoot and minimal shoes that can be bought or shipped to the UK.
I was really impressed by the level of diversity and choice out there and was pleased to see so many companies who make handmade shoes have added the choice of Vibram soles, making it easier than ever to find the perfect style that suits you.
In 1907 London County Council built the first open air school in the UK and by 1937 there were 96 open air day schools in operation throughout Britain, with 53 of them being residential. Children were taught in classrooms that were designed to be fully or partially exposed to the outdoors and even slept outside exposed to the elements.
The problem with our currently accepted model of acute stress response is that hormones such as cortisol require hours to alter physiological responses which seems inconsistent with the need for an immediate response to danger.
How have we changed our lifestyle and our home over the last 4 years to get more movement in our everyday lives and what effect has it had? And how can you get more movement into your lives, even if you live in rented accommodation?
I’ve been following my hunch about critical thinking recently and how it can impact every area of our lives. We all think we are more rational and logical than we are, and our beliefs, choices and decisions are made for us and not by us more than we’d care to admit.
Popcorn has been reborn as a gourmet food in recent years. I, however, grew up eating the unholy sugar-laden Butterkist popcorn which stuck to my teeth. As I munched on another huge bag it occurred to me that I really should just start making my own as it is ridiculously easy and satisfying. I don’t own a microwave, so it’s stove-top popcorn every time for me.
My new favourite YouTuber, a beautiful place for a swim and the endless search for stretchy trousers I can train in.
Frances’ week in links.
Interoception is the awareness of internal body sensations and provides us with information about how our body is feeling on the inside and is the way we self-regulate to ensure that we look after ourselves, allowing us to sense things like pain, hunger or thirst and take appropriate action based on these signals.
Perception can determine reality so, although there are certain factors (such as age or gender) that can make us more vulnerable to victim selection, we can stack the deck in our favour by adopting confident body language. As Jerry Sternin said, ‘it’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.’
Our whole culture is underpinned by measured time. Instruments invented to track time have been traced back about 6000 years to the Egyptians yet it was only about 500 years ago that clocks became precise enough to be measured and minutes and seconds became the universal norm. To put this in perspective, if accepted human history spans 24 hours, 43 minutes represents the amount of time since clocks were invented and 3.5 minutes since we began using minutes and seconds.
A stone tray is a great way to reintroduce movement for our feet and requires very little time or effort - maximum gain for minimum effort!
Variety is the spice of life, so they say, and this applies as much to our feet as it does to other aspects of our lives. Convenience has its price and barefoot shoes can only do so much if we’re always walking on level surfaces and this limits restoring foot mobility.
Flexibility isn’t about using physical force to lengthen muscles, it’s about communication; reassuring our nervous system that a particular range of motion is safe to move into.
Functional: To be practical and useful, rather than attractive.
That is the definition of the word Functional, so then why are so many of the functional exercises we see popularized currently so useless. Most functional training fails to replicate anything you would actually do in your everyday life, and that’s what I’m going to look at in this video
When I was 18, I had a friend who was a lot older than me and when I visited her the only furniture in the house was a rocking chair (reserved for her partner) and a futon mattress that was used as her sofa. It never occurred to me to ask her why she’d chosen this living arrangement; I guess I chalked it up to her being ‘alternative’. Fast-forward a good many years later and here I am, in my own furniture-less abode.
Concentrating for long periods of time in a meeting room is hard going; how many of you have felt drowsy and unable to pay attention as the time goes on, reaching for another snack or cup of coffee to keep awake?
When you leave the room you take a few deep breaths, or go and stand outside and feel refreshed, like you’ve woken up.
There’s a sense that offices are benign places, that nothing bad happens in them, yet this veneer of respectability hides another truth.
Stand still. Absolutely still. Oh wait, you can’t.
Pressure mapping has confirmed that we are never 100% still when we’re standing up; there’s a wobble here, a wobble there, constantly readjusting minutely and imperceptibly. Our centre of mass moves one way and then our soft tissues correct it by bringing us back towards the midline so we don’t fall over and can concentrate on other things during the day.
The book was ‘On The Road’, originally published in 1957 and written by Jack Kerouac. It’s become a classic of American literary counterculture and spawned the notion of ‘going away to find yourself’, an idea enthusiastically adopted by hippies which now finds itself clinging on for dear life under the guise of a ‘gap year’.
Whenever we travel for work we add-on a day or two to take in the sights and see a little bit of the world. We were working with a family in Lancaster, so checked the map and saw a huge forest close by and decided to detour back through it on our way home.
The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty according to Google. Here is our experience of it.
I discovered the artist Dylan Louis Monroe and his Deep State Mapping projects earlier this year and have been eagerly awaiting the release of his free pdf ‘Healing Web’ which has finally been released today. His ‘Q-Web’ diagram spread virally across the dark web in 2018, becoming a worldwide phenomenon. It was published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibit ‘Everything is Connected’ in September 2018.
It’s all too common to see people proudly filming their torn, bloody calluses and posting them on Instagram as a badge of honour, ‘Hey, look how hard I’ve been working! Now I’ll be out of action for a week but I’m really hardcore. I chose not to nurture my calluses as that wouldn’t make such a great IG post!’. I’m assuming you’re not one of those people, as it’s unlikely you’d be reading this article.
I consider Aldi a barometer of the times. Last week I was perusing the mythical middle aisle and came across organic, Japanese matcha powder. I’ve been in the health and wellness world for coming up to 20 years and remember a time when it was a struggle to find many ‘superfoods’ in health foods shops, let alone a small supermaket. Then you see it on a Starbucks menu and know it’s reached the big time.
If the axiom ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ is true, then it isn’t a surprise to note how modernity’s love of reductionism has its fingerprints all over the movement world.
All too often I see people training in a compartmentalised way, working parts of their body in one plane of motion, seemingly forgetting that movement takes place in glorious 3-D.
For most of our time here as a species we’ve been mooching around barefoot as our feet are superbly engineered to deal with rough and uneven terrain. The barefoot movement of the last decade has sought to unshackle our feet from the casts of shoes, supported by the resurgence of interest in all things wild and natural.
A reductionist approach to health is symptomatic of an old paradigm, one that is being undermined more and more by research showing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Health isn’t just the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being - defined as such by the World Health Organisation.
As time moves on and more research is done on the subject it becomes increasingly clear that sitting at a desk all day isn't good for us, in either body or mind. The modern office based lifestyle is very different from the lifestyle of our prehistoric hunter gatherer ancestors, and yet our bodies aren't all that different at all, and this is the crux of the problem, our bodies just aren't equipped to deal with long periods of being still, if we were, we would be a tree, perfectly designed to sit in one place of years upon years.
We spend a large chunk of our lives lugging around inherited beliefs and assumptions without ever stopping to take stock of whether we believe them or if they serve us; we’re the product of our environment, the caregivers who shaped us, instilled their values into us. Now we’re all grown up, we reflect it back out into the world and these stories we tell ourselves shape our internal model of reality.
Here at Movementum, we’re wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year!
Enjoy a few alternative Christmas songs we’ve selected; the perfect accompaniment to a mulled wine and mince pie.