Over doing Systema (or any other art or activity) is not an uncommon practice. Face it, we don’t just like the art, we LOVE the art and want to participate in it as often as possible. In this process whereby enthusiasm often trumps thought, a number of issues can arise. Near the top of the list is over-training.
Over-training is characterized by extreme fatigue and muscle soreness, the latter of which occurs due to excessive muscle damage, for example, from impact and lactic acid. Fatigue is due typically to adrenal insufficiency or exhaustion.
In terms of muscle soreness aspects, consider the following: Calcium lactate, before and after training. This will allow the muscles to flush out excessive lactic acid in a more efficient fashion, thus eliminating or at least reducing the soreness. The herb Schizandrae is also exceptional for metabolizing lactic acid out of the muscles. As a “side benefit,” Schizandrae is also known to calm down, allowing for more peaceful and thus, re-cooperative sleeps.
For adrenal exhaustion, a bit of an explanation is required. The adrenals are walnut shaped glands that rest on the apex of the kidneys. They, along with the cerebellum (part of the brain), thyroid and hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying part of the blood), serve as “back up systems” to the heart; that is, when one or a combination of these 4 are weaker than what they should be, the heart is forced to work much harder than normal. The heart of course can do this, but over time, symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, depression, systemic exhaustion, weakness and a host of other symptoms can occur.
When this happens in the case of the adrenal glands, a number of substances that can be of great assistance. At the top of the list is Royal Jelly. This is the milk of the queen bee as aside from having high Vitamin B content, it is specific food for the adrenal glands themselves.
Another option is the combination of Vitamin B6 with Niacinamide (NOT niacin – would make this situation worse). The ratio should be 1 (Vitamin B6) to 3-5 (Niacinamide). This will provide the nourishment that the adrenals require, thus alleviating the strain from the heart.
So far, I have addressed over-training from a biochemical and nutritional perspective. There is another way of addressing this, both in terms of treatment and especially, prevention – the use of proper breathing.
The body of course requires continual energy (also known as “chi” or “ki”) and receives such energy from 2 sources – food and breath. Food is rather obvious. Breathing, especially proper breathing, is often overlooked.
The lungs are responsible for extracting the energy from air which is then combined with the energy of food to provide energy for the entire body. For those of us who had the good fortune to attend the first “Systema Breathing” seminar, there were excellent demonstrations of proper breathing during moments in training and in regular life. The simple “in through the nose, out through the mouth” breathing allows for the optimal removal of carbon dioxide (and fluid to a degree) and the extraction of energy from the air. The vital exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen too, is essential for continual rejuvenation. If this sequence of proper-breathing-leading-to-rejuvenation is repeatedly done in a proper fashion, over-training can be easily avoided. The body will be continually nourished with indispensable energy.
In short, proper breathing allows for the elimination of specific waste products.
Another method for elimination of waste products is massage. Such as walking massage or tapping we do at the end of Systema classes. Yes, it feels good but did you know how health-enhancing this modality is? Almost every system has its “pump.” For example, the cardiovascular system has the heart, respiratory system has the lungs etc. The lone exception is the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system that relies on a network of conduits to carrying impurities and waste byproducts from the body (among its many functions). It relies on the movement of the muscles to assist the body in removal of wastes. Massage is a safe and highly effective method for moving the lymphatic fluid and decongesting the system and thus, improving the immunity.
It should be noted that there are a number of researchers who theorize that congestion of the lymphatic system is the primary reason for most illness, from degenerative diseases to cancers.
Finally, I would like to point out that over-training is a bit of a misnomer. It is not that we are typically training too hard or too long, but rather resting too little. In reality, over-training is more along the lines of not enough sleep or rest.
Most studies conclude that an average individual needs 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Please note that this is referring to the “average individual,” not athletes. Depending upon the level of activity, recent research indicated that athletes may need as much as 9-10 hours of sleep per day. The less sleep, the greater the chances for injury, poor performance and yes, an over-training diagnosis.
In any event, listen to your body and take the appropriate action. The quality of your training will improve greatly if you apply the simple rules stated above – nourish the adrenals, clear lactic acid, proper breathing, massage and ample amounts of rest.
Prevention is easy. Treatment can be challenging. Start digging the well before you are thirsty!
**Special thanks to Vladmir and Valerie for publishing this article in the Systema newsletter.