Are You Sympathetic?
I’ve been posting a bit of stuff about the nervous system lately and what it means to be sympathetic dominant. I just wanted to explain this bit from a previous post:
“…Whenever you pull a muscle after moving quickly and suddenly, it’s…(a) sympathetic nervous system preventative measure to stop you seriously injuring yourself. So, if you pull a lot of muscles, it might be time to stop, slow down and have a think.”
Not many people are immune from pulling a muscle now and then. Usually it happens when we least expect it. Maybe in the Sliding Doors scenario, we fell over instead; because the muscle DIDN’T shorten. Instead, it just continued to lengthen like an overly slack piece of elastic…. Crash…!
You can test how this works for yourself by standing in Tadasana (Mountain pose) and tilting your weight forward towards your toes. For most of us with a healthy, communicative NS, the toes automatically grip the floor. You don’t have to think about it. This is the SNS response. It stops you from falling over and injuring yourself because it is responding to the “danger” signals.
However, that level of communication is diminished in many elderly people and those suffering from neurological disorders, which is why falls become more frequent. This is also why it is so, so important to keep your NS healthy and maintain the mind/body connection!! On a treadmill, watching TV at the gym so you “can get it over with” is just more disconnect.
It’s normal – and healthy – for your NS to respond by shortening particular muscles when there is potential danger, but what isn’t so healthy is when your muscles continually shorten and spasm for no clear or obvious reason. It essentially means that, subconsciously or unconsciously, there is some kind of perceived threat. The NS is on high alert. In other words, sympathetic dominant.
So how can this be resolved?
Realistically, forcing tight muscles to stretch not only feels horrible, it really doesn’t help at all – for reasons previously outlined. I do think though that constant physical reactions like this present as a warning to let us know that something deeper is amiss.
Perhaps it’s an opportunity to slow down, back off and observe for a change. To limit overly intense, competitive exercise training, Ultra events or weight lifting and instead, to start practising mindful movement techniques such as Yoga (without over-stretching) and other forms of dynamic relaxation.
For example, walking on or climbing rocks or through the bush where you have to pay attention to what you are doing is a perfect body/mind exercise as are guided body-awareness meditations such as Yoga Nidra.
Letting go of perfectionism ideals wouldn’t hurt either. 🙏🕉❤️