Here’s How Physical Labor Can Lead to Adrenal Fatigue
While it’s true that the majority of people need to work to earn a living, the type of work can vary greatly. You might sit behind a desk all day or maybe your work involves engaging in strenuous physical labor on a regular basis. Research is now showing that performing physical work every day is not good for your overall health because it can put tremendous stress on your body, to the point that it may even trigger health problems, including adrenal fatigue.
The Consequences of Manual Labor
Today, several types of work require physically arduous labor including jobs on construction sites or in mines, warehouses, logistics facilities, and manufacturing plants.
All these jobs frequently require full use of your physical strength. For instance, large heavy items may need to be carried from one place to another. Moreover, manual laborers may be required to handle heavy machinery to perform certain tasks.
The problem with these types of activities is that they can take a significant toll on your body. In fact, they can even place stress your body to the point of triggering a major illness. Aside from this, hard manual labor has been linked to a shorter lifespan. In fact, a study conducted by the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam found that men who are engaged in physically demanding work tend to have an 18 percent higher risk of early death compared to men who are not involved in physical labor.
Indeed, being involved in manual labor can have some serious consequences on your health. Worse still, it can even put your body into a state of severe chronic stress. If you do nothing to reverse the situation, the stress of manual labor could cause adrenal fatigue.
The Link Between Physical Labor and Adrenal Fatigue
Typically, your body is designed to be able to deal with stress, which can come from various aspects of your life, whether family problems, financial difficulty, or a demanding career. Stress can also be the result of physical activities or even a physical trauma.
Regardless of the source of stress, your body deals with it by means of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, composed of six circuits that immediately set to work assisting your body in the fight or flight response.
One of the most important pair of organs involved in the NEM stress response is the adrenal glands, responsible for producing a number of important hormones during times of stress, including the primary stress-fighting hormone cortisol as well as adrenaline.
The moment your body exerts too much physical effort can lead to an overstimulation of your sympathetic nervous system. This, in turn, can trigger a significant release of adrenaline throughout your body. In fact, this may explain why one study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health in 1980 found that firemen who worked in the alarm center had higher levels of adrenaline in their bodies, particularly during the busiest hours.
Adrenaline—or epinephrine—can increase your heart rate and blood pressure as well as your sugar metabolism. Together with cortisol, it helps your body respond to stress as effectively as possible. Following a stressful episode however, adrenaline and cortisol levels both decrease as your body starts to relax again and return to a state of calm.
When stress becomes chronic, your adrenals continue producing both of these hormones until they reach their maximum output. At this point, your adrenal glands are no longer able to keep up with demands, resulting in a significant hormonal imbalance in your body, which can trigger Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Furthermore, when you continuously engage in strenuous manual labor, your body uses a significant amount of energy. But at some point, your body will no longer be able to keep up with these energy demands, which is why your body starts to feel fatigued.
At the same time, overutilizing your body’s energy supply can place a remarkable amount of stress and even trigger an adrenal crash. In this state of major hormonal dysregulation, your body’s primary focus becomes conservation of energy in order to ensure your survival. Typically, you can recover from an adrenal crash by getting some proper rest. However, if you fail to do so, you could end up with adrenal exhaustion.
Useful Tips for Avoiding Adrenal Fatigue due to Physical Labor
Now that you know continuous physical labor can cause adrenal fatigue, it’s time to figure out how you can prevent this from happening. Before trying anything new, it’s always a good idea to consult with your physician. Especially if you’ve already been engaged in manual labor for a long time, since there’s a chance you may have already developed a disorder, like adrenal fatigue, that you may not be able to deal with on your own.
That being said, here are some easy tips you can follow to give your body some relief from physical stress and prevent adrenal fatigue from being triggered by physical work in the future.
Always stretch before work
Stretching can go a long way in improving your flexibility and may even help you to improve your performance. At the same time, stretching can improve your range of joint motion and reduce your risk of injury. Moreover, doing some stretching can improve your circulation and posture.
Make sure to perform stretches both before and after work. Typically, one stretching session should only take you around 10 to 20 minutes.
Get massages regularly
Professional massage treatments can go a long way in restoring circulation, relaxing your muscles, and reducing any pain you may be feeling after physical work. At the same time, massage can help your mind and body relax so you don’t end up developing adrenal fatigue.
Keep your back safe at all times
When you’re engaged in manual labor, your core and back tend to work hard. This is especially true if your job involves lifting heavy objects up and down all day long. Or worse, you may be at a higher risk of developing muscle tears or injuries from joint hyperextension. To avoid this, make sure you’re practicing proper lifting techniques so that your back is not strained.
Always wear PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE), including comfortable work shoes, helmets, eye protection, hearing protection, safety gloves, and respirators, can protect you from pulling a muscle or suffering major injuries while on the job. Be sure that you also know how to use them correctly.
Apart from the standard PPE, you may also want to consider investing in a back-support belt, wrist guards, and shoe inserts.
Make a point of reducing stressors in your life
Physical labor can take a toll on your body and when you add in all the additional mental stressors, your overall health could possibly decline quite significantly in a short period of time. Instead of constantly worrying about everything like money and family issues, it helps to take on a more positive attitude. Simply being more optimistic could tremendously reduce the amount of stress you may be feeling.
Keep these tips in mind so you can better protect yourself while you’re engaged in any sort of strenuous physical labor. It’s important to learn how care for yourself at work so you can avoid chronic stress and prevent adrenal fatigue. On the other hand, you may want to consider a job that is less physically intense. That way, you could avoid physical fatigue altogether, along with all the serious risks associated with it.
© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
How can physical labor contribute to adrenal fatigue?
The demands of physical labor can significantly put a great deal of chronic stress on the body. When left to persist, it can eventually trigger an adrenal release and cause the adrenal glands to become overworked. This would eventually lead to a hormonal balance, which can trigger adrenal fatigue.