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Episode 1 Gaynell


Gaynell is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist, Pelvic Floor Specialist, Certified Health Coach, and co-founder of A Euphoric Living Foundation and the SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Summit. 

In today’s episode, we discuss “recovery health”, which requires a fine-tuned balance between injury and repair. Gaynell teaches us the phases of tissue recovery as well as the importance of two systems in our body that must harmonize to maintain and achieve optimal health: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Take a listen as we dive deep into these systems and review techniques to control the balance between them to facilitate an optimal physical recovery.


What is recovery health? (1:30)

  • Recovery health is about balance between injury and repair

  • There are two different responses to stress placed on the body:

    • Sympathetic/ “fight-or-flight”: prepares our body to “fight” or run away from stressors

    • Parasympathetic/ “rest and digest”: recovery, repair, regrowth

    • Need to have balance between the two systems

  • Today, what is stressful has become everyday life—we spend too much time in sympathetic, not enough in parasympathetic


What happens physically when we are in each of these systems? (2:40)

  • Sympathetic: our body releases stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisole)

    • Heart rate increases, blood pressure increases, respiratory rate increases

    • Blood is pushed to arms and legs

    • Immune and digestive systems are shut down

  • Parasympathetic: our body releases hormones to shut down the release of stress hormones

    • Heart rate decreases, blood pressure and respiratory rate normalizes

    • Blood is directed back to brain and abdominal organs

    • Immune and digestion is ramped back up


How do we balance these systems? We need to learn to shut down the sympathetic nervous system. (3:50)

  • Ways to accomplish this: breathing exercises, meditation, sleep, mindful and enjoyable activities

  • Both the parasympathetic and sympathetic are part of the autonomic nervous system, which means they are not voluntary. Our body just does them without active control. 

    • However, the diaphragm has both active and autonomic responses (this muscle is our primary breathing muscle)

    • How we use this muscle can provoke the type of response we go into

      • i.e. if we take fast, short, quick breaths= set system into sympathetic response

      • i.e. if we slow our breathing, take larger deeper breaths= set system into parasympathetic response

    • If stressed, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system by taking slower, deeper breaths

  • The diaphragm is connected to the inside of the lower ribs. As you breathe in, it flattens like a pancake and when you breath out it rounds like an umbrella. This controls air movement in the lungs and fills/reduces pressure in the abdomen


Parasympathetic system- ESSENTIAL for repair (7:21)

  • Want balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic system

  • Want balance within the parasympathetic system itself

    • If we do not have balance, we do not allow for recovery and repair, ultimately leading us to chronic inflammation

    • Chronic inflammation leads to many of the diseases prevalent in today’s culture

  • Stages of parasympathetic system/recovery

    • Stage 1: Inflammatory stage/demolition stage

      • Body sends blood chemicals in to break down any damaged tissue and sends it off for our body to dispose of

    • Stage 2: Recovery stage

      • New proteins go in and build new tissue

  • If we don’t spend enough time in the parasympathetic system, we continue to break down (stay in Stage 1) but are unable to repair before we are back into the sympathetic system

    • Contributes to constipation, bloating, feeling run down, etc.

Ways to assist our bodies to rebuild/repair (9:30)

  • When we are in the inflammatory stage, the body turns off our core muscles

    • Our core muscles (pelvic floor, lower abdominals, deep back muscles) do not have a lot of their own blood supply, so when they are working, they hog a lot of blood and energy

    • When we are in the “inflammatory stage” blood is diverted away from the core muscles and to the localized area needing healing and results in splinting of larger/mover muscles

    • When we are in the recovery stage: protein mediators repair, core muscles re-engage, and larger muscles turn off

      • If we get stuck in the inflammatory stage because we are not spending enough time in the parasympathetic nervous system, then we end up with chronic inflammation, muscle spasms, muscle tension, pain, postural imbalances, etc.

So how do we get “unstuck” out of the inflammatory phase? (11:55)

  • Need to get back into the parasympathetic system

  • If there is inflammation, we want blood to go to that area (it acts as our “trucking” system, bringing in nutrients and out garbage)

  • (1) Movement creates blood flow creates healthy tissue

    • The area that is damaged, we need some type of movement in that area to keep blood flowing

  • (2) Need to purposefully activate core muscles

  • (3) Stretch and relax splinted muscles

    • Stretching exercises, yoga, massage, ice, heat, jacuzzi, Epsom salt bath, etc.


Hypopressive breathing (14:00)

  • Learning to breath with the diaphragm 

  • Need to exercise the diaphragm to stay healthy

  • YouTube instruction on diaphragmatic and hypopressive breathing progressions: Flower Empowered


How do we know if we’re getting through the cycle of healing and recover? (15:05)

  • How we feel when we get up in the morning (i.e. no stiffness, tension) is a good indicator of whether recovery is occurring

  • If standing upright and feel symmetrical without a lot of tension in a localized area, this is a good indication that you’re recovering well

  • Other ways to know how you’re recovering:

    • Technological tools that help us measure recovery:

What advice would you give our listeners that they can implement quickly and easily today? (19:10)

  • Learn how to breath with and exercise your diaphragm

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