In an effort to better serve my patients who are also athletes I recently attended a seminar on sports nutrition where I learned some interesting things about training, recovery times and what you should be doing to maximize your performance potential. Here’s what I have to share.
Intense physical exercise can be both highly rewarding and also quite stressful on the body. As a practitioner I am always encouraging patients to get out and exercise more, but the truth of the matter is that, for endurance athletes, the risk of over-training syndrome (OTS) exists. Perhaps you have experienced this phenomenon yourself: excessive training paradoxically leads to deterioration in performance. Exercise in excess can put great strain on some of our most important body systems including immune, endocrine, reproductive, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal. Fortunately, with a proper diet and a little supplementation (both herbal and nutritional) we can mitigate the deleterious effects of training too hard as well as enhance overall performance.
One class of herbs in particular is especially valuable for those who are interested in peak performance: the adaptogens. Adaptogens have the near magical ability to support the body in areas of deficiency and down-regulate areas of excess. In other words they maintain homeostasis and restore balance in the body, similar to the effects of acupuncture.
Perhaps the most famous adaptogen, ginseng, supports stamina, increased cardiovascular demands and may be good for endurance athletes. Eleuthero (aka Siberian ginseng, no relation) is another adaptogen that has been shown to improve recovery times, is good for long-term performance enhancement and may be useful for weight training and strength-related activities. If you are considering adding herbs into your workout or training regimen, please consult a licensed healthcare practitioner first as they may not be suitable for everyone.
On the nutrition end of things, we carry in our clinic a variety of products that offer overall support for before, during and after your workout. For instance, one of my favorite products is Glucosamine Synergy made by Standard Process. This is a product that combines fundamental nutritional elements such as nutritional yeast (loaded with B vitamins) and Vitamin E (supports muscles, ligaments and tendons) with glucosamine (the building block for articular cartilage) and an herbal “blood mover” or pain reliever (helps with post-workout inflammation). It can provide excellent long-term support and maintenance for both the casual exerciser and performance athlete alike.
If you are ready to take your workout to the next level or if you would like to minimize the side effects of over-training I recommend giving me a call. We can customize a nutrition or herbal-based support program to suit your needs.
As always, thanks for reading and take care!
Tama Henderson, L.Ac.