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5 Signs Stress Is Sabotaging Your Workout

Stress and burnout can leave us feeling mentally frazzled, but did you know that it can also impact your workouts and affect your physical health? If you find that you’re feeling agitated, unmotivated or uninterested in working out, this could be down to underlying stress and could make you more susceptible to falling ill. Here, Top London Surgeon, Carlos Cobiella who has treated Hollywood’s A-list actors, plus sportsmen and athletes shares the 5 signs that stress is sabotaging your workout.

You’re struggling to sleep

If you feel exhausted but are struggling to sleep, this could be down to your body producing the stress hormone, Cortisol, which can often leave us feeling wide awake and struggling to sleep. Cortisol is often released into the body when we do high impact exercise such as running and Hiit, but it can also be released when we feel stressed, wired and agitated. This then affects our sleep, and with higher levels of cortisol being released, the body remains in a state of hyperarousal and affects the quality of sleep.

You feel more sore than usual 

It is quite normal to feel a little sore or tender after a good workout, especially if you are working out with weights or doing long distance running, but often if you are burning the candles at both ends and working out after a long day with a lot of stress and things on your mind, this can leave you feeling more tired after a workout and it could take your muscles longer to recover. If you feel your muscles are taking much longer to recover than usual, increase your rest days so you are not over doing it and running your body into the ground. Bad performance during a workout is also a sign that stress is affecting you. If you are struggling to be mentally in the zone during a workout and it’s affecting your overall session, reduce your workouts and take more time to rest until you feel yourself again.

You’re gaining weight

If you find you are gaining a little weight, but you aren’t doing anything differently with your diet and workout regime this could be down to your hormones, especially if the weight gain is around your tummy.  Furthermore, When you are feeling stressed or under pressure, cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in higher amounts. This then means that your insulin production goes into overdrive which then triggers our sugar cravings meaning that you may find you are craving sweet things more often and when you’re stressed it can often be hard to resist. Excessive cortisol in the body can also affect muscle mass meaning that your metabolism is thrown off and could slow down.

You feel under the weather

Excessive cortisol production for longer periods of time can actually have a negative impact on your overall well being and immunity. While we need cortisol to give us energy and fight off any illnesses, too much of it can also cause us to be more at risk of becoming ill. This is because Cortisol can attack our white blood cells meaning that we are more susceptible to becoming ill due to  a weakened immune system. Recovery is crucial if you start to feel unwell, taking a good amount of rest days is advised. I would also suggest getting lots of fresh fruits and veggies into your diet to help boost your immune system, you should also ensure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep hydration levels up.

You’ve suffered an Injury

When you are stressed for a prolonged amount of time and still working out, this of course can wreak havoc on your physical wellbeing and you may find that you have an undetected injury. If you are suffering with niggling pain in certain areas that take a lot of the strain such as shoulder or knees this could be down to stress. Prolonged stress can impact our immune system, cause inflammation and essentially damage our muscles and joints connective tissue, meaning we are much more easily open to injury during or after a workout. Stress can also impact our bodies overall coordination and focus, so if you are working out with weights and you feel agitated, confused, or mentally elsewhere this could mean that you are leaving yourself open to injuring yourself, so it’s imperative that you only workout when you feel mentally and physically able. 

Carlos is a highly skilled London-based Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon with special interest in upper limb and sports injuries. 

He has treated many well-known A-list Oscar winning actors and directors and some of the world’s top professional sportsmen and athletes. Carlos specialises in shoulder and elbow surgery, sports injuries and upper limb trauma surgery. He is the founding member of The Shoulder Practice, which has clinics in Central and North London, Chelsea and Hampshire.