ever found yourself skipping out on a regular workout routine because you're
just too tired? Find that eight hours of sleep doesn't seem to be enough
anymore? Perhaps you also find you crave coffee, soft drinks, salty or sweet
snacks to keep you going later in the afternoon. If these are all common to you,
you're certainly not alone. It seems fatigue and lethargy as a result of life's
stresses are becoming some of the most common complaints amongst adults. And to
combat fatigue, we are turning to the quick energy boosts with stimulants such
as caffeine and sugar to give us enough energy to get us through the day. But,
at what cost?
most people adapt very well to the stresses of life, but for many of us chronic
stress has become a common part of life. We continually place increased demands
on ourselves every day and at some point there's a breaking point. We try to
juggle the stressors of the workplace, relationships, families, while trying to
find time to exercise. More and more, we're placing a greater amount of stress
on ourselves than our bodies can cope with. In fact, a recent health care report
estimated that 75 to 90 per cent of visits to primary care physicians are
related to stress - either acutely or because of chronic problems associated
Our body has a complete stress modulation system in place, and the control
centre is the adrenal glands. These two small glands, each about the size of
large grapes, sit atop the kidneys. The glands work by producing and releasing
hormones that help our bodies' response to stress. So, when an individual is
suddenly stressed, the adrenal glands orchestrate the "fight or
flight" response, preparing the body to deal with the situation head on by
producing and releasing hormones such as epinephrine (adrenalin), norepinephrine
and cortisol, among others. This response is actually a very good thing, and
"stress hormones" are vital as coping mechanisms. Without them, your
heart rate wouldn't increase as you run, nor would you be able to mobilize
stored energy from your cells, negating any exercise beyond a few minutes.
overload of continued stress the adrenal glands are constantly stimulated to
produce stress hormones as our body's way of coping. Eventually, the adrenal
glands have difficulty keeping up with the constant demands and become limited
in their ability to adapt. In essence, when these glands become dysfunctional,
our body's ability to handle stress diminishes. Described as "adrenal
fatigue," this condition manifests as a number of symptoms, one of which is
exhaustion that doesn't resolve with typical rest and relaxation. Marked by a
continual deterioration of everyday functioning, depression and decreased
performance are the essential hallmarks.
fatigue has a broad spectrum of non-specific yet often debilitating symptoms.
onset of this condition is often slow and insidious. In fact, many symptoms of
"overtraining syndrome" are similar so athletes sometimes lay off
training for a period of time, to no benefit. And, more commonly people are told
they are stressed and simply need to learn to relax. In fact, many people end up
taking anti-depressants because the symptoms are so similar. This often makes
the condition worse as the root cause is left unresolved. Over time, the
accurate diagnosis to be made it is important to look beyond laboratory tests
and symptoms alone; the entire picture needs to be examined. If one is seeking
diagnosis and treatment for adrenal fatigue, be sure to find a health
professional familiar with its diagnosis and treatment.
have any number of the above signs and symptoms, consult your health
professional for evaluation. Once you have ruled out other organic pathologies,
it is time you consider adrenal fatigue as a possible cause. None of the signs
or symptoms by itself can definitively pinpoint adrenal fatigue. However, when
taken as a group, these signs and symptoms do form a specific adrenal fatigue
syndrome or picture - that is of a person under stress. These signs and symptoms
are often the end result of acute severe or chronic excessive stress and the
inability of the body to reduce this stress.
of Adrenal Fatigue
Once adrenal fatigue is suspected, a number of effective treatments are
available. Typically, it is treated using a two-pronged approach.
combination of nutraceuticals (specific professional-grade nutrients), herbal
medicines and replacement hormones is required. The consensus approach is the
application of several specific vitamin combinations in therapeutic amounts to
replenish the constituents necessary to produce stress-related hormones. Some
people who suffer from adrenal fatigue also have multiple endocrine imbalances,
including sub-clinical hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, and estrogen
dominance. These need to be optimized, as well.
lifestyle adjustments must be made, specifically to each person's needs. In
highly active athletes, sometimes a reduction in training for a period of time
may be part of the treatment, while in sedentary people, light exercise may be
part of the prescription.
recovery is a process akin to running a road race, but it can be done easily and
painlessly, one step at a time. Once you're on your way, it will feel as though
the system is being energized and life will become more enjoyable.
Key symptoms of
to gain weight and inability to lose it, especially around the waist.
frequency of getting the flu and other respiratory diseases. Symptoms tend
to last longer than usual.
waking up in the morning and feeling un-rested.
to remember things.
of energy in the mornings and energy crashes in the afternoon between 3 to 5
feel tired between 9 and 10 p.m., but resist going to bed.
coffee or stimulants to get going in the morning.
for salty, fatty and high protein food such as meat and cheese.
symptoms of PMS for women.
energy, fatigue, and increased injury and difficulty healing.
better when stress is relieved, such as on a vacation.
and the need to take a big breath several times a day.
Other signs and
and or inhalant allergies and an upset stomach;
effort to perform daily tasks and lethargy;
ability to handle stress and increased nervousness;
and thin skin;
very low calorie diets, especially for prolonged periods of time.
Low-calorie dieting is a major stress to the body.
stress reduction techniques.
overtraining by keeping workouts intense, but brief (certain stress-related
hormones rise sharply after 45 to 60 minutes of strength training).
overtraining by matching your intensity, volume and duration to your
recovery ability. Decrease your training frequency, and/or take a layoff if
recovery after workouts with proper nutrition: Consume a carb-protein meal
or drink immediately after your workout.
or minimize use of stimulants/depressants - caffeine, ephedrine, alcohol.
Keep hydrated and get eight hours of sleep.
well hydrated. Some studies suggest dehydration may raise stress-related
Michael Hoffmann, B.Sc., N.D., has an independent practice operating out of the
Chiropractic Performance and Sports Therapy Centre in
and is a specialist in natural therapeutics dealing with endocrine imbalances
and chronic fatigue syndrome.
chiropractic sports specialist, Dr. Greg Uchacz, D.C., FCCSS(C), CSCS, FICC, is
the clinic director of Chiropractic Performance and Sports Therapy Centre and
was a member of the Canadian Medical Team for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter
Tired to Exercise" first appeared in the 2010 May/June Multisport Issue of