Understanding more about my nervous system has fundamentally affected how I approach movement, and beyond that, exercise generally. We have developed a world view that exercise as a whole is always good, but what I now understand is that exercise in and of itself is not intrinsically healthy or not healthy- it really depends on my nervous system that will cause it to be one or the other. The same goes for our horses.
If I’m in a sympathetic state, exercise and physical exertion is going to have a deteriorating quality on my body regardless of what exercise I’m doing. As my body moves into the sympathetic system, the structure of my body moves towards my midline, reducing the space in my joints and causing the lumbar and cervical spine to work overtime to power movement.
The reason for this is functional. Force equals mass times acceleration; if I want to maximise my force output (as I do in a survival situation), I want to make sure I have as many surface areas to power off as possible. The compression of joint surfaces facilitates this.
From a chemical perspective, if I’m in the active stages of fight or flight, it can be useful to burn off adrenaline, but if I’m in a collapsed state, exercise will directly go against the wishes of my body and trigger an auto-immune response.
We live in a world of “blanket prescriptions”, a one size fits all approach.
The reality is we are much more nuanced. What is beneficial or otherwise will always depend on the person, the moment, and the state of their nervous system.