• Magda Karas

The One Thing You Should Know To Perform At Your Optimal Each Day

How often do you find yourself working until you feel totally exhausted or become sick or end up with neck or back pain? What if you could wake up in the morning and have a better idea of what your body is actually capable of doing that day so you are not pushing yourself too far?

Recently we have been talking a lot about heart rate variability (HRV) in the clinic. It is one of the things we look into adding to our tests. After reading more and more about it I decided not only to get an app that helps me to measure HRV so that I can perform each day at an optimal level but most importantly to share with our clients the basic knowledge of what it is and why it is so important.

HRV is basically the variance in time between the heart beats and is an invaluable source of information of how well your autonomic nervous system is performing. The autonomic part of the nervous system controls the involuntary aspects of your physiology. It has two branches: the sympathetic (activating “fight or flight” responses) and parasympathetic which is responsible for the ' 'rest and digest '' mode in which you can heal, relax, sleep better and so on.

These branches will also affect how fast your heart is beating. When you are stressed: because you are doing intensive exercise, have a stressful day at work, run late for a meeting or pick your kids up from school, the sympathetic responses will kick in and your heart will be told to beat faster. When you are relaxed, your autonomic nervous system will slow your heart beat down.

HRV comes from these two competing branches of the nervous system simultaneously sending signals to your heart. The parasympathetic branch will be asking your heart to slow down and the sympathetic- to speed up. This can be observed as a fluctuation in the heart rate, which is the heart rate variability. When your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, it does not mean that the heart beats every second. There are differences of milliseconds between the beats. The more variability there is between the intervals the better as it means that your body can easily respond to input from both the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system.

This is important for your health and overall wellbeing. If the HRV is low, it means that one branch of the autonomic nervous system is dominating. This is natural in some situations. Let’s say when you are doing intense exercise your sympathetic branch will be dominating. However, when you are at rest and your heart variability is low it can suggest that your body is dealing with some stressor- it can be that you need a rest and recovery because you have been working too hard or training too hard, or that you are sick, dehydrated and so on. It is information to you that your body needs some recovery time, so if you were planning to have a super busy day, it may be a good idea to change some plans as you will be pushing your body even more out of balance.

Heart rate variability is best measured in the morning. If you get high reading, go ahead and do all the strenuous tasks you are planning to do. If it isn’t, take it easy, do things that are good for your body- have the best diet you can that day, drink plenty of water or swap the gym session you were planning to do for a walk in nature.

In the long term it will help you to protect your health but also perform at optimal level when your body is ready for it. Top athletes have been using this for years to help with training and recovery management.

The great news is that you don’t even have to purchase an expensive device to be able to measure it. There are already apps that let you use your smartphone camera to get the reading that cost less than £5 in one off payment and take 60 seconds only to get the results.

There are many ways of improving the HRV. Study also shows that it is linked to presence or absence of pain. Therefore if you want to live pain free life, improve your HRV and perform each day on optimal level why not not get in touch and get yourself booked for an initial consultation.

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