Holiday season is upon us, which means travel time to visit family and friends. This can be a very stressful time for a lot of people due to being out of your normal routine – whether that’s training, nutrition, stress, etc. This post is intended to equip you to handle some of these changes and provide some tips to take with you while you’re traveling for the holidays.
MOVE: This seems self-explanatory but just remind yourself to move over the holidays and don’t beat yourself up about not getting in your typical training or workouts. If you’re stuck on a plane for some time, try to get up and move as much as you can. Or, if you’re in the car, try to focus on making some stops along the way to move and stretch out. If you’re looking for some go-to movements to help keep you moving and supple, look no further:
2-3 sets x 8 breaths each direction
Half-Kneeling T-Spine Windmill
2-3 sets x 6 breaths each side
1-2 minutes each side
Lateral Hip Mobilization
1-2 minutes each side
90/90 Hip Rotations
2-3 sets x 8 rotations each side
You can even create a movement flow and roll through a circuit of these different movements. For training and working out, just make sure you squat, hinge, push, pull, carry something heavy, and test your lungs a little bit.
LOAD MANAGEMENT: I’ll keep this concept simple. Your body has a certain threshold and capacity before you start getting some soreness, aches, and pains. While traveling, it’s normal to do more walking or activities that are not normally within your element. We get a ton of people who get back from trips with different aches or pains. It’s totally normal. Imagine trying to run a half marathon when you’ve only trained for a 5k. The same concept can be applied to walking around a city or doing a long, strenuous hike. If you walk for 6-7 miles and you’re only use to 1-2, you’re going to be sore. If you don’t give your body time to recover, then that can become achy or even painful if done repeatedly. This doesn’t mean you did something wrong. It just means that your body exceeded its ability to recovery due to too much volume. The point here isn’t to just take a rest day or immediately run to a healthcare professional if something is painful, but more that our bodies are resilient and robust – you’ll bounce back from it and it should go away with some TLC. If you give it some time and TLC, and there’s no improvements, then seek out some help from a healthcare professional.
STRESS: This can go many different ways. You’re off from work – emails are piling up. You won’t be in your gym doing your normal training program and you miss squat day. You’re traveling to your in-laws for Thanksgiving and you’re already dreading Martha’s passive-aggressive comments. Typically, stress is associated as bad or with a negative connotation. I’m reading this book called “The Upside of Stress” and there are a lot of great takeaways from this book. To keep it very simple, your perception of stress matters significantly. Stress is just something that happens to us and our perception of whether it’s good or bad based on different factors such as past experiences, genetics, culture, etc. determines our mental and body’s physiological response.
Here are three simple steps described in this book:
1. Acknowledge the stress.
2. Welcome it.
3. Make use of energy it gives you.
Try to attack some of these stressors by viewing them as good/growth for you. Instead of stressing about spending time away from work, think about the time you’ll get to spend with your people or that it’ll help you recharge and hit it hard when you’re back. If you’re feeling in over your head, breathing and meditation is always a good outlet - download the Headspace app and take a few minutes to dial in your breathing and calm down your system.
WASH YOUR HANDS: More than you think. Lots of colds and phlem. That shit is everywhere – better safe than sorry.
NUTRITION: No one is perfect during the holidays. I think that changing your relationship with food will make a huge difference here, not only for the holidays but even for life in general. Instead of deeming foods as good and bad, try looking at it all as fuel and focus on quantity and quality. A good phrase coined by Ph.D. and author Michael Pollan is: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” With that said, eat some damn cookies, too. Just don’t eat 12 in one sitting. It’s the holidays, so sweets will be around. Don’t feel guilty - be happy.
SOCIAL MEDIA: You know what I’m going to say here. Limit your time to be on your phone/social media for a certain time of the day or total time in general. Try to challenge yourself with this. When you’re with friends/family, try to keep your phone in your pocket. Use travel and the holidays as an opportunity to disconnect and be present with your peeps or even during your solo time.
ALCOHOL:. Try to limit the Bud heavies and spiked egg nog. This can put a damper on your recovery process and research shows that a single alcoholic beverage can really impact a night’s sleep. All in moderation; right?
SLEEP: Use this as an opportunity to catch up on sleep. You might be traveling to different time zones, walking around a city, watching repeats of Friends’ Thanksgiving episodes. Aim for 7-8 hours of good quality sleep. Avoid any blue light one hour before bed. Make sure the room is cold rather than warm. Figure out a good routine that works for you.
At the end of the day, enjoy this time to decompress from your “normal routine," while also not giving yourself a free hall pass to treat your body like garbage.
Move. Moderate load. Manage your stress. Clean your hands. Eat well, but also have some pie. Instagram less. Moderate your dranks. SLEEP. Be merry.
Dr. Ravi Patel, PT, DPT, CSCS
What’s up, everyone! Doc Jake here. In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the common “scary” comments my patients have heard from other providers, or seen on imaging, and why you shouldn’t be afraid at all. I know we’re all busy getting costumes and candy ready, so let’s jump right in:
“Worst case of bone on bone I’ve ever seen!”
If I’ve heard this once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. “The doctor said I’m bone on bone!” “Worst case of arthritis he has ever seen!” Most often your physician or other healthcare provider is referring to something called osteoarthritis (also called Degenerative Joint Disease or DJD) in situations like this, and guess what… it is totally normal to have arthritis! More and more studies are coming out that show many active adults have some form of DJD and that calling this a “disease” is incredibly misleading.
While DJD cannot be reversed, it’s often not the main pain generator and can easily managed with education on symptoms, appropriately prescribed exercise, and just plain out staying active. Walking the dog, playing with your kids, gardening… all great examples of non-exercise based movement that keep your joints moving. As cheesy as it may sound, the old adage of “motion is lotion” is spot on and is the reason that “worst case of arthritis I’ve seen” shouldn’t get you weak in the knees.
This one hits close to home. At the young age of 14, I actually had two knee surgeries. One to attempt to repair my meniscus and one to remove it once the repair failed. Looking back on it and relating my symptoms I was having to what the research is now showing, I had no business getting any of those surgeries and you most likely don’t need one either. Once again, a torn or frayed meniscus is a normal sign of aging and is often found on imaging with people who have NO knee pain at all.
Even in an acute situation where a tear is found on an image after injuring your knee, as long as you don’t have a physical “block” in your knee, where that meniscus has essentially turned into a door stopper and impeds normal motion at the knee, you will be absolutely fine without surgery. In fact, research consistently shows that conservative treatment will have equal to (or better) results as surgery AND you won’t be setting yourself up for future complications associated with missing portions of your meniscus.
I’ll keep this one short. Simply put, in most situations, herniated discs do not require surgery. In fact, multiple studies have demonstrated that you can take 10 random people off the street with no back pain, give them an MRI, and an average of 7 out of 10 people’s images will come back with some variation of a herniated disc. In fact, “large low-risk-of-bias trial between surgery and usual conservative care found no statistically significant differences on any of the primary outcome measures after 1 and 2 years” (Jacobs et al). Our bodies are incredibly resilient and will heal just fine with appropriate treatment.
“You’ll never be able to do ‘X’ again.”
This is the most frustrating thing for me and the rest of the staff here at Athletes’ Potential. We are constantly hearing people come in and say something like, “My doctor said I’ll never be able to deadlift again,” or, “My physical therapist said I shouldn’t do CrossFit.” This is absurd and is a fallacy you shouldn’t fall for. We constantly get people coming into our office and we are constantly getting them back to the activities they love.
So, in review, there are a lot of scary phrases out there that, in reality, have no right to be scary. New research is being pumped out every day that our bodies are incredibly adaptable. If you’re in the Atlanta area and you’ve heard one of these phrases before, give us a call or fill out the contact request form by clicking the button below. We’d love nothing more than to help you get back to what you enjoy.
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Jacob, PT, DPT, CSCS
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention, and sometimes other random thoughts.