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Physiology of Fear , Anxiety, Fatigue, Pain - Page 3

post #61 of 83
Thread Starter 
WTG, its always hard to do a "cliff notes" summary of a very long article, but I think the points they are trying to make are:

FEAR and ANXIETY are different animals, physiologically

Of the two, fear is the "healthier" reaction, because the adrenaline stimulates the athlete into ACTION.
Remember, anxiety does not stimulate adrenaline. As a result, the person may seem paralyzed. This LACK of action may sometimes be more dangerous than anything else.

TRUE fatigue, not the kind that just happens after a hard day of skiing, can lead to the negative thought process that causes anxiety, as well as causing the metabolic increase depleting energy stores. So you have 2 things going on. Both anxiety and fatigue have eaten up your energy supply. As a result, you are in a state of inaction.

A carry over to skiing? Lets say someone does not like to ski in very crowded areas. Its the end of the day, and everyone is coming down the same trail, some with worse skiing skills than your great grandmother!

The Fear response: Get the heck out of there!!! Choose your line, and go fast but in control!

The anxiety response: Slowly traverse the trail like a duck in a shooting gallery!

I had a situation where fear helped me get better at a specific skill. I was in a 3 day workshop, and there was an extremely overweight woman with a "falling problem." What made it a fear issue was that she always managed to take down another class member when she did this. {Why she was'nt sent to a different group, who knows?}

For me, a 200 lb woman knocking me down is career suicide! Under most circumstances, I would have just hung back behind the group. But I decided that pointing them downhill for a longer period of time, in other word, a fight or flight type thing, was the better solution.
post #62 of 83
Okay, that makes sense. I guess the practical thing is to recognize anxiety and try to convert it into something more, well, useful. Not an easy task! Must psych yourself up, up, up!
post #63 of 83
Thanks LM. This is good stuff for me.

May I ask what your career is that it commits suicide? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #64 of 83
Thread Starter 
I was exagerating, but I teach fitness full time. I teach free lance, which means lots of travel throughout the day, on very wobbly, Boston trolleys, where I can rarely get a seat.

Although I teach many non impact activities, Pilates, Core Board, Prenatal, etc., I am one of the few instructors at my age still teaching high impact aerobics.

So what would be a minor, insignificant injury for someone with a desk job, where they can put their feet up, who makes 2 trips to and from work a day, often in the comfort of their own car.

The other issue is time off. We are always responsible for our own class coverage. Failure to cover your class can result in immediate dismissal. I teach 10 hours at one job, which gives us 2 sick days a year. The other 12 hours - part time or independent contractor, no work, no pay.

Guess that sums it up! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #65 of 83
Thread Starter 
In case you wanted to plough through the whole article, here it is:

One other thing I came across in my textbooks last night. The Computer Age, has done some pretty wicked things to our upper body musculature. Rounded back, tight neck and shoulders create faulty breathing patterns. If someone is breathing incorrectly, their body will exhibit all the symptoms of anxiety, even if that's NOT what they were really feeling!

Then it becomes a viscous cycle. The mind starts to beleive what the body is telling it. This also leads to a lessening of the pain threshold, and of course, fatigue. What a mess!

I know time is prescious in a ski class, but perhaps on the lift or liftline, that may be something instructors can address. Sometimes a few shoulder rolls integrated with breathing will do the trick!
post #66 of 83
Hi LM, Just joined this forum. It's pretty terrific. I have some academic interests in this subject. Thanx for the turn to the OUTSIDE article. I'll get back to you in a while after reading these pages and the OUTSIDE pages.
post #67 of 83
Thread Starter 
Welcome, Ziggy! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #68 of 83
I never saw this thread before. excellent and useful stuff. It makes sense, too.
post #69 of 83
Thread Starter 
Glad its useful! This is sort of the other side of the Yikes Zone, and all the psychological stuff. Sometimes there is a physiological basis for all of this.

What I have been using a whole lot in my own work is the idea that dysfunctional breathing can cause a PHYSIOLOGICAL state of anxiety, and what can make the breathing dysfunctional is simply a muscular imbalance or poor posture.
post #70 of 83
Originally posted by Lisamarie:

I know time is prescious in a ski class, but perhaps on the lift or liftline, that may be something instructors can address. Sometimes a few shoulder rolls integrated with breathing will do the trick!
Actually one of my instructors has me breath in through extension & out through compression phase of turns. He says he was taught this when he raced - to stop them trying to 'hold breath' if tense.
It is also a NEAT TRICK to stop me thinking too hard aboutthe skiing bit - I'm focused so hard on the timing of the breathing that the body just does it's stuff.
post #71 of 83
Thread Starter 
There's a woman at Sugarloaf that uses that too, as well as some instructors on this forum. The thing is, if someone is severely misaligned in their upper body, the breathing is going to be pretty dysfunctional. On the inhalations, the shoulders will go up so high they practically chop their ears off!

So breathing done in improper alignment can be just as anxiety producing as holding the breath.
post #72 of 83
Great thread!

Here's my personal experience:

I have to agree that 'fear' is good - it's what gets me excited, I have lots of energy, feel confident, and I try new things. 'Anxiety' makes me feel jittery and weak. I'm worried about the activity instead of becoming excited about it - and the scary thing is that when I look back at times that I've injured myself, it's typically after I've been anxious about doing something - worrying about it for hours or days beforehand. I never thought about what a serious effect anxiety has on your body and mind before an athletic event.

This whole theory explains a lot about my own behavior. I like competition, but not races - why? - because I don't like thinking about it for so long ahead of time, and the anxiety is what makes me feel weak by the time I'm at the starting line. And when I'm standing over a rocky chute that scares me, my mantra is 'pick your line and go' - I know the longer I stand there looking at it, the worse it will get, but once I make the decision that I can do it I relax and feel confident and strong.
post #73 of 83
Thread Starter 
Alta Skier, you just demonstrated the whole concept of this article in one simple post! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #74 of 83
I tend not to be very analytical about the sports that I participate in. I just latch onto the things that work for me and repeat them in my head until they become second nature. But your explanations of the physiological reactions behind fear and anxiety really made me think about it for a change and it made my 'mantras' make sense.

Now the real question is how to eliminate anxiety from our lives!
post #75 of 83
Hi LM,

This is great stuff. You seem to have a sixth sense about the psych/physio stuff that's out there. I finally finished this article and "Learning to Move" as well. Too much to comment about at this time. I need to assimilate it all for a while.

One thing comes to mind immediately, and it was addressed towards the end: I often use breathing and rhythm together. When I am working with beginers, never-evers up to early parallel, I use an analogy to ballet. (Depending on the type of student[s], I may adjust my wording - ballet may not be the right verbage to the rage oriented High School kid!)

There is so much benefit to proper breathing and relating that to the proper movements involved in skiing. Oxygen is a great drug - duh. Zen breathing through slow turns relaxes and loosens the body. Those students who actually PARTICIPATE do very well. FYI - kids participate so much better than adults!

These subjects are fodder for theses, not chat rooms. Thanx so much.

ttfn (ta ta for now)
post #76 of 83
Originally posted by Pierre eh!:
...I get the most out of they all tend to be high risk/low fear activities. The risk factor hightens the sense of accomplishment. My favorite skiing is steep terrain of wildly changing fall lines loaded with stumps, trees rocks, logs and anything else that just might be there along with variable changing snow conditions. White water kayaking in low volume boats on class IV rivers (Upper Yough MD @2').
Pierre, we share the same views when skiing and
kayaking.....I can't wait for next season's trip(s) out West...

Next season...ya' GOTTA do Tucks!
The hike to the lodge, then to the floor of the
bowl, then up the headwall sure gets rid of any hesitancy with *Offensive Intent* ..believe me. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #77 of 83
Not sure that this simplistic post belongs here. I confess to not reading the entire thread. My fear factor is much higher when I am Mt Biking than skiing. Main reasons maybe that I did not think that I could hurt myself skiing, until I did. How hard could fluffy snow hurt? I know that falling from a bike COULD hurt. I still have a nice scar from learning to ride a “2-wheeler” some 40 years ago!

Anyway, when I am riding and find myself tensed up, I ACT like I am not. I force a big smile on my face. I know that at times it looks more like a grimace than a grin. The very act of concentrating on smiling takes my mind off the fear.
post #78 of 83
Thread Starter 
"Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one ever knows
I'm afraid"

Who's going to "sing" the next verse? [img]smile.gif[/img]

Ziggy, don't feel compelled to comment right away. This thread, and the other one you mentioned were a shameless exploitation on my part! I was studying for this really complex sports med exam. Everything in the text was worded in a manner designed NOT to let you understand it too easily. My guess is they did this to keep you from over simplifying things.

But in "translating" some of the concepts into the "vernacular" on this forum, I improved my own understanding, and passed the exam.
post #79 of 83
touche' LM.

My other passion is B'way, now I'll have to leave the library and go home to listen to the original "King & I", silly me.
post #80 of 83
Thread Starter 
Okay, check this out: Fear of Flying - Not Falling

Kind of illustrates the distinction between fear and anxiety. When flying as a passenger she can be future oriented, with a concern for POTENTIAL threats. Result, cortisol, no adrenaline.

But when skydiving, she is quite literally experiencing the "flight or fight" response. She gets the adrenaline rush, and VOILA, she's flying!
post #81 of 83
I wonder if we've kicked this to death yet, but here's another take I've been playing with:

I'm trying to develop an awareness in me to notice when I start to get psyched out. That pattern repeats itself each time the stomach tightens. It's both mental and physical. That is - the way fear (or anxiety) manifests itself in me. Not unusually the beautifully quilted terrain starts to becomes Volkswagens if there are combined challenges - trees, steep, bumps, and powder.

I've been journaling about it for years. There are some great insights for me in some of the threads that LM has started in the past (including this one). I don't think the fear (or anxiety) ever goes away in us. I think we just keep refining the tools we have so that we can deal with the challenges that we encounter more positively.

Back to the subject - I think that any insights we get into the way our psych manifests in the real world is valuable. Look at the way other mammals respond in the environment compared to our specie. We've lost touch with our animal instincts - and those include the skills we need to proact in the skiing enviroment positively. Any thoughts?
post #82 of 83
Faster and faster and faster....
Untill the Thrill of speed overcomes the fear of Death!

This topic from another angle intrigues me as well. Standard "teaching" for racing motorcycles has an anology that we may have only a certain amount of "cash" in our "Attention account". If your activity budget calls for 60% of your attention for the execution of the required control functions, there remains only 40% for awareness of the enviornment you are trying to negotiate. IF "fear" occupies another 20% of your awarness, you are "over budget" and Crashes are next on the dance card.

For a newcomer to skiing, there is likely a large percentage of the awareness budget "spent" on manipulation of the gear. Oh! These long shoes!. There is then very little "cash" left to spend on reading and planing for the changing terrain.
Fear is a parisite "on the dole" of our "account".

As our personal skills improve, there is less attention needed for the "basics". More of the budget is available to the variables. As we spend more "attention" on the terrain, It may become less daunting. (maybe not if we dwell too much).

This concept is discussed in youth soccer coaching as well. How can a young person "read the game" with 22 players if they have most of thier attention focused on a good ball touch. They can't

In soccer the progression is small sided games, building personal skills, but playing "real games" not drills. In skiing, the lead up must be less challenging terrain.

I will never regret the hundreds of laps I have done on the "Scarecrow" run at Haystack mountain with my children. Lots of miles to develope a relationship with the snow on skis!

post #83 of 83
Thread Starter 
"For a newcomer to skiing, there is likely a large percentage of the awareness budget "spent" on manipulation of the gear. Oh! These long shoes!. There is then very little "cash" left to spend on reading and planing for the changing terrain.
Fear is a parisite "on the dole" of our "account".

Again, I think this describes anxiety, not fear. Take a look at the first paragraph in this post.

"Researchers have found that anxiety has a different brain circuitry from fear. Anxiety can be descirbed as future oriented, with a concern for POTENTIAL threats. Anxiety produces a more low level of arousal, which is characterized by stiff muscles and increased pain sensitivity."

The person worrying about the potential problems of manipulating the equipment is physiologically getting a dose of cortisol. Since they are not yet skilled enough to do anything really exciting, there is no adrenalin fix.

I don't think we can ever get rid of the butterflies in our stomach, that are present before a challenging run.
Nor, do I think we'd want to.

But perhaps, we can get them to dance in formation. :
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