May 152012

Let me tell you a quick story…

So I discussed Life Distress a bit in a recent article, but it didn’t mention too much about exercise distress specifically.
Rather than give you a big run-down here, I’ll refer you to an article by Adam T. Glass on Darryl Lardizabal’s website that deals with that matter.
Then, get back to me here.

Done? If you read it, we’re on the same page. If you didn’t, let me give you a brief statement: Focussed distress allows us to expand in specific directions; it makes sense when it relates to our goals and necessary situations in which we need to perform. The important elements revolve around focus and extent.

A recent failure to apply common sense and context

I have recently been afflicted with a cold. Nothing too severe, in fact at first it seemed incredibly mild. I had a runny nose and a minor scratchy throat, but I went about my business all the same.

I haven’t played with my Vulcan Hand Gripper much in a while. Not that I’ve stopped loving it (or grip training), but I have borrowed some Captains of Crush-brand grippers from a friend and have been using those more.
I decided to take the Vulcan in to work and give it a bit of a crank during my work hours, as the mood struck.

When the time came that I sat down for lunch and got out the Vulcan, I was tremendously disappointed to find that it just didn’t test well (like explained in this article) at all. That is VERY uncommon for me, with the Vulcan, especially that I tested a variety of different set widths, arm/hand positions and stances!
Naturally I was very frustrated, as I had been very eager and had not anticipated this setback at all.

So, I made the snap decision to just do it anyway, in complete distress, on the grounds that “progressing on this is very important to me this year and I want to do the specific practice. It’s just this one time.
That’s a pretty questionable thought process at the best of times, but I could usually get away with it. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that I was already ill.

“You can’t prove anything!”

I believe that it’s a waste of time trying to “prove” anything beyond a shadow of a doubt; it is questionable if that is even strictly possible. HOWEVER, there is little more useful than creating ideas with a foundation of useful associations.

How does that relate? When I got home that day, I absolutely crashed. I was trying to read to/play with my daughter and the cold suddenly turned from a meek kitten to a crouching tiger.
I went from a minor sniffle to a hypersensitive face, aching joints, massively reduced comfortable range of motion and a cranked up headache. Not good.

Can I prove that my distress work on the gripper “caused” this? Nope.
However, consider this:

I did an action that my body responded negatively to in Range of Motion. I did not anticipate any serious acute result from this and repeated the action, with load.
My body then displayed an apparent decrease in ability to deal with an external negative force, in this case a virus.

Does it seem like a massive leap to say that those things COULD be connected?

Now, please note that I am not telling you they ARE connected. I just think perhaps it’s a valueable lesson for me to note that distress work should be very carefully evaluated regarding context.

If an action can be shown as being difficult for our bodies to resolve speedily, perhaps we should consider context in regards to recovery with more caution. Do you have the resources spare to take the hit of dealing with distress training AND continue to perform at the things you will likely need to do? Perhaps dealing with residual stress resolution from grip training limited my ability to perform at an immune system level.
Just a theory, but I think worth noting and testing.

What do you think?