Are you struggling to see results from your rehab?
While it’s important to focus on the exercises themselves, there are other factors that can impede your progress. In particular, poor sleep, increased stress, and poor nutrition can all have a significant impact on your ability to gain strength and endurance.
First, let’s talk about sleep.
When you sleep, your body is able to repair and rebuild muscle tissue that has been damaged during exercise. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may not be giving your body enough time to recover. This can lead to many impaired bodily functions – I am definitely not a sleep expert, but we all know how we feel when we don’t get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep (less than 7-8 hours a night) can impact many aspects of rehab and performance:
- It can impair muscular strength
- Cognitive performance declines for learning and memory which is key during rehab
- Impacts mental health
Next, let’s talk about stress.
When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, and we usually get stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ response (or a variation of this, where our body is more in our sympathetic nervous system state versus our parasympathetic nervous system). Stress, like sleep, can impact all of our systems in our body and can cause different effects in different people. Sometimes, it is difficult to link stress to physical impairments, but it can definitely manifest as a rehab plateau.
Stress management strategies can include:
- Closing of the stress cycle – knowing your stress triggers, whether that was a work day or specific matter, and having a routine in place like a walk, a shower or a workout that will close off that period of time and let you move forward with the day or task
- Breathing techniques to slow heart rate and tap into your parasympathetic nervous system which is our ‘rest and digest’ system such as box breathing
- Utilizing a sport psychologist or mental health coach when needed to address things like fear of movements or talking through positive self-talk methods when you get stuck
Let’s talk about nutrition.
Your body needs calories to build muscle and sustain energy during exercise. If you’re not getting enough of the right nutrients, your body won’t be able to perform at its best. Again, I am not a nutritionist/dietician, however, research shows time and again that dieting is not sustainable and we often cut out key macro and micronutrients in the process, as well as not setting ourselves up for success when we are exercising.
- Dr. Stacy Sims talks about how trends like intermittent fasting and things like the keto diet are more detrimental to women and females than to males – make sure to know how these trends will impact you long term
- Carbs are not the enemy
- Increase your protein intake
So, if you’re not seeing the results you want from your exercise routine, take a look at these other factors that may be impeding your progress. By prioritizing sleep, reducing stress, and fueling your body with the right nutrients, you can maximize your gains and take steps towards your rehab goals.
Want to chat more about your rehab? Book a 1:1 virtual consult.
Charest J, Grandner MA. Sleep and Athletic Performance: Impacts on Physical Performance, Mental Performance, Injury Risk and Recovery, and Mental Health. Sleep Med Clin. 2020 Mar;15(1):41-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2019.11.005. PMID: 32005349; PMCID: PMC9960533.