Under Pressure

Trey Bell
Racing expert
Trey Bell
Trey Bell
More from this author

250ft off the deck on the third pitch of your climb. The last piece of gear you placed was 15ft ago, and it wasn’t that good. You’re about to blow off this hold, but you go for the next move, stick that good hold, walk your feet up, and get a good piece of gear in. You remember that breathing is okay, and allow yourself a little rest before heading to the anchors.

Race day: you’re cruising that 5K, look down at your watch and you’re on mark for a personal best. Then, someone comes out of nowhere and passes you! You’re dueling back and forth, you push ahead, dig super deep and not only get your new personal best, but win your own mini race within that race.

Or that 100 burpees for time challenge. Or max out day. Or pretty much any day doing High-Intensity Interval Training.

All these things have one major thing in common: adrenaline release.

Adrenaline is this super amazing hormone that our bodies use on a daily basis. So what does it do?  Basically, it decreases the body’s ability to feel pain, heightens its awareness, and increases strength and performance. All of these functions are triggered through stress. That’s pretty sweet!

One major problem though….we only have a certain amount of adrenaline our bodies can release, and if we use more than our allotted amount, issues might surface. But before we hit the symptoms, let’s get a little info on how adrenaline works.

Here’s the breakdown: when we get stressed out, hormones/neurotransmitters (including adrenaline) are released, superhero mode is engaged, we perform, and then we crash. The interesting part of this whole process is that thousands of years ago your stress wasn’t the crux clip on your 5.13 proj or dialing in your sub 16:00 minute 5K, the stress was literally being chased by a bear or lion or some other substantially sized creature that could do some serious damage to your body. And today our bodies give the same exact response to stress whether you’re living through a real life version of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant  or you’re stuck in traffic, late for work. Unfortunately, for us here in fast-paced 2017, our society is in a constant state of stress.  

Wake up at 5am, go to the gym, train hard, shower, go to work, meet that big deadline you’ve been talking about, go to your afternoon presentation, get off work, make dinner, get drinks with friends, maybe hit a second gym sesh. Not to mention the stress you experience with relationships, careers, and personal obstacles. We have zero downtime day to day, and these life stressors, coupled with that extra adrenaline release from physical output, is a potential recipe for adrenal fatigue.

So you’re probably asking what adrenal fatigue looks like?

This is what happens to your body when it’s placed in stress overload: High blood pressure, restlessness, irritability, decreased sleep, feeling jittery, even weight gain or obesity can occur from amped up stress and adrenaline levels. Really, these are only a few of the symptoms, and if you’re anything like most athletes or fitness enthusiasts, you’ve had one if not all of these bad boys at some point in your training.

After all this, your curiosity may be peaked on what to do to counteract or even prevent the effects of adrenal fatigue. While the answers vary for each individual, we have some tried and true tips that may help you. Stick around, Gnarly’s next blog post will address more on how to keep those adrenal thresholds in check.

Sources:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

http://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/adrenaline

Picture Credit : Savannah Cummins

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