Every workout that I put my clients through challenges them to develop their tolerance for stress. Whatever the challenge – be that an exhausting workout, or an exercise or movement that requires greater attention to detail – the end goal is to gradually and consistently familiarize them with any stress patterns. In doing so, they gain confidence in their ability to overcome this new training obstacle.
To increase your body’s natural ability to be physically resilient, the stress put on the body must be increased incrementally. This is one of the fundamental training principles in overload and adaptability. Overload refers to pushing the individual slightly past their current limits in order to overcome their current restraints. Adaptability is the body’s ability to acclimatize to and recover from the consistent stress placed on it. As we increase stress in our training, our bodies will adapt to the new stimulus. If we do not progressively challenge ourselves, we are not acclimatizing to new stresses, therefore depriving our body of increasing its resilience.
But why do we want to increase our body’s resilience to stress?
Here are 2 examples that illustrate the importance of building resilience in recovery:
We live stressful lives; it’s a fine balance between work and family. This can all contribute to stress which may manifest as elevated blood pressure. The goal for clients with high blood pressure is to physically stress the body with exercise, such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in order to let the body know that this planned increase in blood pressure is a form a stress to adjust to. As a result, as I measure my client’s blood pressure post-workout their numbers are lower as the body understands that this exercise is purposefully stressful. Ultimately, their daily stresses don’t seem as severe, and their resilience increases. This does take time and consistency for long term adaptations to occur. However, this is just one component in dealing with life’s stress; resolving the root cause of it should be in your plan of action.
Likelihood of injury
Dr. Andreo Spina states, “injuries occur when we take our bodies through a range in which we are not familiar with.” Your tissue and muscles’ resilience to stress plays a huge role in the likelihood of injury. Take the common ankle sprain for example. If someone has not actively used the full range of movement in that joint, a sprain could be quite severe when you factor in using an underutilized joint and tight tendons to carry the weight of your body. The result is either a complete tear or a minor tear of one or more of the main tendons in the ankle. Now let’s take a look at that same injury with someone who not only has great mobility in their ankle but also has the same level of strength through the full range of movement. This is not to say that they will not suffer an injury if they roll their ankle. The injury may not be as severe because they have trained and stressed the joint sufficiently and consistently to tolerate more than the untrained individual.
Building resilience through training is an ongoing commitment; we need to ensure that we are doing so in a manner that will incrementally challenge us. If you’re not getting better, you’re staying the same. The aim is to be stronger and more resilient than you were previously, continuously pushing the body to new limits. The body is a resilient machine, however it is on us to unlock our full potential.