Having high levels of adrenaline after Jiu-Jitsu/BJJ class or any other combat sport can have serious health concerns if left unchecked prior to sleep. A common problem is that many martial artists and athletes don't know how to properly prepare the body for its natural recovery abilities after an intense workout.
This was one of my main issues as I finished training at around 9:45 pm. I struggled to receive the quality sleep and rest needed for optimal recovery and performance. In this article, I am going to reveal 5 ways to lower adrenaline and other stress hormones after night-time training sessions.
Due to the nature of this sport/martial art, it is common for practitioners to be left in a "Fight or Flight" response directly after training. It is imperative to apply the appropriate steps to ensure a healthy recovery as the body and mind will not be able to focus on rest while in this stage.
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Here are 5 cost-effective and easily implementable tips to lowering your adrenaline after training to prepare for a healthy recovery:
1. Breathe Like A Champion
Immediately after a hard training session, you may notice your breathing rate increases due to both the exercise and also an increase of adrenaline. Concentrate on your breathing and calm your nervous system by utilizing breathwork. This is also a great time to quickly review the techniques you just learned from Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, wrestling or any other activity that day.
There has been a growing number of both anecdotal and scientific studies backing up breathing methods such as Wim Hof’s work that have shown to lower adrenaline and increase your ability to control your stress hormones cortisol through the autonomic nervous system.
His method is described as a long deep breath, completely filling the lungs with oxygen and slowly releasing the breath but not exhaling fully. The idea is to be taking more air in than to be exhaling per breath.
He suggests to base the number of repetitions based your own intuition but after approx 30-40 breaths, he instructs to exhale fully letting all your oxygen out of the lungs and holding your breath until you feel the need to breathe again. This is usually done for 4-5 rounds.
Although I’ve personally found Wim Hof’s Method to be very effective for me and my post BJJ class de-stress routine, there are numerous other styles of breathwork that may also be effective for you. Test them out for yourself and see what works best for you.
This routine may be lengthy so it may be better to try another fast-acting breathing method called “sighing”.
Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist and tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He has made numerous important contributions to the fields of brain development, brain plasticity, and neural regeneration and repair. His recommendations are to take “sighs”, meaning two shorter breaths in through the nose followed by an exhale through the mouth.
He describes on “the genius life” podcast that statistically this will relax you three times as much as traditional long deep breaths. “And that brings your level of autonomic arousal right back down to baseline,” -Andrew Huberman
This makes a lot of sense logically. You may notice yourself sighing without consciously commanding this technique while you’re stressed because your body already knows what to do and how to naturally lower your autonomic response.
Now that you know how you can consciously take control of this technique, you can begin actively begin taking advantage of this inexpensive and simple strategy to lower your stress at times that’s essential for longevity such as after a night MMA/BJJ class to prepare the body for an optimized sleep.
2. Adapt Yourself With Adaptogens
Adaptogens are essential herbs and natural consumables that have been used for hundreds of years and have been shown to help your body deal with biological stress in healthy ways.
These powerful herbs and foods may be effectively used to help lower stress within your mind and body. These foods/herbs have other health benefits that you can explore here, but for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus specifically on how they may help you lower adrenaline and stress.
Here are some examples of adaptogenic herbs:
- Holy Basil
- Goji Berry
- Choke berry
3. Soothe Your Sore Psoas Muscles
The psoas major is the biggest and strongest muscle in a group called the hip flexors. These muscles work together to contract and pull the torso and the thighs toward each other.
The reason why I decided to included active bodywork to these muscles to help lower stress is that it’s been correlated with many high anxiety individuals and is highly involved in the “fight or flight” response. If you’re training in combat sports, you will be at a high level of stress response due to the nature of the sport, meaning many practitioners and fighters may develop a chronic condition of tight psoas muscles.
These muscles have also been known to contract when going through mental and emotional stress as well. If you had a mind-bending day of learning new techniques or you’ve been frustrated with your progress or any other aspect of Jiu-Jitsu or MMA recently, it may be a good idea to consciously care for these muscles.
How To Relieve Tension In These Muscles...
The most effective way I’ve found to relieve this tension is by using a foam roller and applying controlled pressure on top of the hips to release the tight muscles. If you don’t practice this often, it may result in a high level of pain but will follow with relief and relaxation.
Bare through the discomfort and it’ll help you remove stress and tension throughout your body. This is also great for combat sports and other athletic endeavours as it loosens the hips and improves your mobility.
4. Yoga Nidra For A Better Night's Sleep
Yoga Nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation that typically isn't found in most meditation practices. This leads to less stress and better overall health. It requires no physical activity, which makes it a perfect practice to utilize prior to sleep.
This form of yoga is a combination of meditation and sleep. It’s the conscious stage where you are “going to sleep”. It’s origins come from ancient India but the effectiveness of this technique has been used by many soldiers recovering from PTSD.
This form of meditation is often accompanied by an audio script from an instructor, however, relaxation mantras may as well. This is what differentiates Yoga Nidra from other forms of meditation as it allows a light withdrawal from your other senses while maintaining consciousness towards just a single sense, in this case, hearing. Traditional meditation typically involves the practitioner either focusing attentively on a single goal or emptying the mind altogether.
Research has shown that Yoga Nidra meditation is associated with an increased dopamine release in the brain. The lowered interest for activity in this state is also associated with reduced blood flow in other parts of the brain that is associated with connecting with controlling actions, the prefrontal cortex the cerebellum and the subcortex.
Yoga Nidra has also been shown to improves heart rate variability, which is a method of measuring the balance in the autonomic nervous system (fight or flight system).
Why It Might Work For you...
The consistent practice of yoga has been found to lower stress and anxiety. The most noticeable autonomic symptoms of high anxiety may include problems such as headache, chest pains, palpitations, sweating and abdominal discomfort.
If you’re having any of those issues, it may be worth trying this yoga practice, especially if you plan on continuing to train in activities that heighten the fight or flight response such as Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling or any other combat sports.
This is a great way to end the day with positive hearings and reviewing your training for the day. It allows you to go over what you’ve learned, what you did well and what you could improve on while relaxing the body rather than forcing it to become worked up and overly excited for the next training session.
This ancient practice has been linked to help lower sleep problems and induce deeper stages of sleep. Stressed adrenal glands can often be the cause of burnout or overtraining. Fall asleep fast and lower the amount of cortisol by calming the mind.
Improving your sleep habits will help to lower the level of cortisol and regulate your circadian rhythm to better optimize your active lifestyle. Consistent meditation has been shown to help boost the immune system and allow you to receive good sleep.
Struggling to lower adrenaline levels after training at night could lead to an increased risk of injuries and poor sleep. Utilizing these basic cost-effective techniques can be a game-changer for your longevity as an athlete and martial artist.
Being disorganized with your lifestyle can lead to anxiety and difficulties lowering your adrenaline levels. We managed to get some help from Nattie Boss, a BJJ Brown Belt to help explain the 4 Most Crucial Areas Where You Need Structure As An Athlete.
It is recommended to be disciplined in these methods to ensure you prepare yourself for rest and recovery after every training session. These techniques are not limited to only after training, these can also be applied whenever you are feeling stressed out.
Make sure to check out our other rest & recovery articles for more insightful information on how to live healthier while training in combat sports and martial arts.
Now that you know how to instantly lower your adrenaline levels after training, I highly suggest you check out these 9 Natural Tips To Avoiding Burnout.