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Improve Performance Through the 4 Pillars of Health

mobility nutrition performance physical therapy pregnant and postpartum athletes running sleep hygiene stress management Oct 18, 2021
4 Pillars of Health
Most people only think about the physical aspects of improving performance and/or recovering from an injury. Of course the physical aspect is really important, however we like to look at the big picture. If you are only looking at one thing, you are going to struggle with getting better.
 
The 4 pillars of health are lifestyle factors that encompass all variables of health, wellness, and performance. Having even just one weak link will hold you back. We discuss each of the four pillars with our clients and focus on areas needing the most attention. For long-term success, we need to find balance between all four pillars and then work to improve them all from there.
 
The 4 Pillars of Health
  • Sleep
  • Stress Management
  • Nutrition
  • Movement
 
#1: Sleep
 
We all sleep. It is essential to life. It is how we recover from the day and recharge for the next day. For some reason, people love to ignore sleep. By that, I mean that they don’t give any thought to their sleep hygiene, patterns, routine, etc. Not getting enough sleep will result in poor energy, mood swings, lack of recovery, increased food cravings, and reduced motivation.
 
Both quality and quality of sleep are important to address. Even if you feel like you can get away with running on little sleep, you are leaving a lot on the table. You will be better if you are well rested. It will catch up to you.
 
#2: Stress Management
 
Stress is one of the most neglected things in life, especially in the health and fitness world. Interesting fact: The body cannot differentiate between physical and emotional stressors. Your health can be affected by too much of any kind of stress.
 
Too much stress (or poorly managed stress) will lead to musculoskeletal pain, headaches, irritability, weight gain, reduced muscle protein synthesis (muscle building), reduced libido, gut health issues (like poor digestion), impaired immune system, and difficulty sleeping.
 
Reducing the amount of stress and proper management of stress are crucial to your performance and overall health. Stress can kill you. A bit dramatic...but true.
 
#3: Nutrition
 
You can’t outwork a bad diet. When I talk about nutrition, I am not speaking with weight loss in mind, although that may be necessary for some people. Proper nutrition is more than just limiting calories or seeing the number on the scale go down.
 
Your health, energy, mood, hormones, immune system, and inflammation are directly affected by your diet. A healthy diet with the right ingredients can be as potent as anti-inflammatory meds or even reduce/prevent the onset of some inflammatory conditions.
 
Focus on hydration, quality, and quantity. Drink plenty of water, limiting or eliminating any sodas or processed drinks. Consume food high in nutrients (and again, avoid processed stuff). Choose fresh produce and meat over anything in a can or freezer aisle. Find portions that work with your body and goals. Stick to these portions. If you only put the right amount of food in front of yourself and pack the rest up into meals, you will be more likely to stick with portion control.
 
#4: Movement
 
Movement is medicine. That is our mantra. If you want to live a long life, independent from the help of others, and be able to enjoy your older years, you must MOVE. Movement is essential to keeping your muscles, tendons, bones, and joints strong. Movement is needed to keep the heart and lungs healthy. Movement keeps all systems in check and balanced.
 
Overall, general movement is way better than not enough movement. Typically, what we see from our clients is a lack of movement diversity. Some people run, but don’t do any strength training or stretching. Some people do yoga, but haven’t touched a weight in their life. Some people can lift hundreds of pounds overhead, but can’t run a mile.
 
Balance across movement variables is essential. Start with mobility, strength, and cardio. You can make it more complex and fun from there, but try to move in different ways to challenge your systems and improve across all areas of movement.
 
We provide research-based insights and guidance to help you maintain health habits and work towards your personal goals. We know how much quality of life matters. Are you strong in all 4 pillars? Are you out of balance in any area? Give us a call and see how we can help.
 
Corey Hall, PT, DPT
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