PHYSIOLOGY OF SUCCESS

5 06 2014

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Take a moment to think about your body just before a big performance… What do you remember feeling? Some of the common responses will include butterflies, shaky, sweating, needed to use the restroom or throw-up, heart-rate increase, dry mouth, etc. When athletes begin to experience these symptoms normally they will interpret them negatively as anxiety or nervousness. For athletes that feel this way or have ever experienced these symptoms, I thought it would be fun to ‘debunk’ the myths of these ‘negative nervous symptoms’.

When our body is preparing for performance it regulates itself in order to give us the best opportunity for success. Back when humans where required to hunt for food or in constant danger of wild animals and other threats our bodies had to adapt to allow us quick response time and optimal performance for survival. Now, our performances are a little different, including sport performance, but our body’s adaptation still functions in the similar ways.

So let’s look at some of the physiological symptoms listed above…

Digestion: Our body uses a significant amount of energy for digesting food. However, when we perform, our bodies need all of that energy we can get for optimal performance and therefore stops the digestive process. This slowing and stopping of digestion leads to feelings of butterflies caused by stomach chemicals breaking down and removing food, using the restroom and puking because our body tries to get rid of anything it doesn’t NEED for performance, dry-mouth because saliva helps break food down and there is no need to waste energy creating saliva while performing.

Muscles:
Our bodies have also adapted over time to be able to respond rapidly to threats or demands. In order for our muscles to respond as quickly as possible, they need oxygen and lots of it! This will create feelings of a racing heart because our blood is what carries oxygen to your muscles and in order to get more oxygen to them our heart has to move the blood more rapidly through your body. Response time is also what makes our body feel shaky. Prior to performance, our muscles tense in order to prepare for a quick movement and response. That will create a feeling of being shaking or on edge but it is just our body’s way or preparing to respond quickly.

Cooling System: During performance our bodies need to remain cool so that we don’t over heat during that performance. Sweating is our bodies way of regulate our temperature when we get too warm and therefore is a benefit to our performance.

Our bodies are very intelligent! Each of these symptoms is our body’s way of preparing itself for optimal performance. However, these symptoms are often very uncomfortable and are often accompanied by thoughts of anxiety or not performing well, decreased confidence levels, etc. Honestly, the time to worry is when you are not feeling some of these symptoms because your body is not yet optimally prepared. Our bodies are hardwired to perform at our best WHILE EXPERIENCING THESE SYMPTOMS! Our body will take care of creating these feelings it is our job to be in control of how we interpret them. So our challenge is to embrace the feelings of discomfort, enjoy it even! Choose to interpret these symptoms as our body being ready to go! Trust our body because these feelings are your greatest ally.

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