The Physical Effects of Psychological Stress

Recent research has found that chronic stress may actually impair the body’s ability to recover from exercise. “If you’re under a lot of stress, your workouts could leave you extra sore and tired—and too much of that can lead to injury,” says Fort Worth Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Michael Boothby.

The Physical Effects of Psychological Stress

Exercise is touted as an effective stress management tool—and there is no doubt that it is an important one. However, there might be a catch—it can have such a profound physiological effect on the body that it may interfere with the body’s ability to recover and repair itself. In other words, chronic mental issues may actually lead to physical overload.

Researchers conducted a study that included subjects with high levels and low levels of stress. They evaluated two kinds of stress: perceived and life event. Perceived is a subjective measure of how a person experiences it—how it feels, so to speak. Life event, on the other hand, is more objective. It has nothing to do with how it feels, just what it involves. Life event might include things like divorce, be moving, or a demanding job.

After the participants completed a strenuous strength workout, the researchers measured their subjective and objective recovery each day for four consecutive days. Measurements included muscular function (isometric muscular force) and somatic sensations such as perceived energy, fatigue and soreness.

The results indicated that stress impaired recovery, even after adjusting for fitness, workload, and training experience. Both perceived and life event stress impaired muscular force and perceived energy. In addition, life event was also associated with more fatigue and soreness. On the flip side, recovery was improved and faster in participants with low stress.

Strike a Balance

So, what does this research mean for you? It means you should pay attention to your stress levels and adjust accordingly. When the body is in a weakened state, even “good” physical stress like exercise can lead to physical overload.

Don’t skip exercise, but do add extra recovery time. If you’re tired, stressed, and feeling extra sore after exercise, give yourself an extra day or two off between workouts to allow your body to fully recover and avoid injury.

Schedule your appointment with Fort Worth Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Michael Boothby.

Fort Worth Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Michael Boothby is a highly respected member of the orthopedic community. Dr. Boothby is Board Certified and Medical Director of The Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute. Named Top10MD in 2015 an honor only 1-in-3 doctors succeed within the United States. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Boothby link to his profile or call 817-529- 1900 today.