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I Think I May Have Adrenal Fatigue?

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I had a few members ask me during the week about adrenal fatigue. They thought they may have it and asked what they should do about it. So I decided to write an article briefly explaining what it is, how to identify it and how to go about managing it.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is generally a condition that is associated with continued high levels of stress being placed on the body over a long period of time which leads to the adrenals functioning insufficiently and is commonly related to symptoms of feeling unwell, fatigued and having a lack of energy.

What are your Adrenals?

You have two adrenal function glands that are found on top of your kidney’s. They are responsible for the manufacturing and secretion of many different hormones such as adrenalin, testosterone, estrogen and cortisol and are essential to your health and wellbeing. When the adrenal glands become fatigued they stop producing hormones effectively, throwing your hormones out of balance and they become inadequate at meeting the demands of stress.The adrenal glands help your body to deal with every kind of stress (physical, emotional, or psychological) and if they can not keep up with the demands being placed on the body then this can have a dramatic effect on the bodies ability to function optimally.

Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Muscle weakness/tension
  • Poor mental focus
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue/ feeling tired all the time
  • Cravings for sugar/ sweet foods
  • Weight gain/ inflammation
  • Depressed/ negative mindset
  • Allergies have increased
  • Increased sickness/ injuries

How Does This Effect CrossFitters?

CrossFit can place a lot of stress on your system and thats not a bad thing, in fact it’s a very good thing provided you are not placing continued levels of high stress on it in other areas of your life. Continued high levels of stress over a long period of time is not good for your body and will eventually present itself as some form of fatigue, if it hasn’t already. As a CrossFitter you want to be able to identify and manage these stressors so you can continue with your current exercise program.

Identifying Common Stressors

Some common long term stressors that a CrossFitter may place on themselves are:

  • Training hard without enough time for adequate recovery (to much volume, not enough rest days/active rest days)
  • Dehydration (not putting the fluids back in that come out)
  • Not fuelling your body properly for a better recovery (wrong macronutrient ratios, to long between meals)
  • Poor food choices (high carb, sugary or junk foods)
  • To much Caffeine and other stimulants such as pre-workout
  • To much alcohol
  • Lack of sleep (7-9 hours)
  • Work stress
  • Relationship stress
  • Financial stress
  • Psychological stress

Stress comes in many forms and it’s general not solely one source that is the problem, it’s more the stress coming from multiple sources, constantly over long periods of time that is the problem. If you suspect that you may have adrenal fatigue then I would suggest that you start by identifying the problem areas from the list above and start implementing some strategies to make better lifestyle choices and learn how to manage the constant stress you may be putting your body under.

I will go into these in a little more depth in my next article and I will look at some strategies you can implement to manage some of these problem areas. Managing stress is the key to recovering from adrenal fatigue and this will allow you to continue on your CrossFit journey and have your body functioning as optimally as possible. If you believe this is a serious problem please seek professional help and see a qualified health care professional. They can perform a simple test of adrenal function.

Reference:

Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome: by James Wilson (Author), Jonathan V Wright (Foreword)

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