A friend was talking about a theory that the mind can have a big impact on the body. In particular, some niggles in the body can be a result of mental issues. The example they used was stress – manifesting in the form of back pain. The back may be perfectly strong, but to deal with the mental stress, the body deals with it by having pain in the back; furthermore it is claimed releasing this stress in the back is actually a good thing.
If you have have a fall, and injury your knee, it’s pretty certain what the cause is. But, if you wake up the day after a ride, and find a mysterious injury / pain – then it may be some mental cause – often unconscious, and not an underlying physical cause.
I’m no expert on this kind of thing, and I’m sure there are doctors who would disagree – but it is interesting. In particular, I’m sure there have been times when I’ve gained some kind of minor niggle, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the enforced rest did a lot to improve my long-term form.
One thing I should add, when I have had persistent niggles in knees – Physiotherapy did a very good job in getting it better.
I also often think about to my early 20s, where I was injured for several years – meaning I only took up cycling in the late 20s. From a cycling point of view, this was hugely significant. If I’d taken up cycling 10 years earlier, my cycling career might have been quite different. I don’t have any regrets though because, in this lifetime, I am glad I didn’t become a professional cyclist.
The other interesting thing is that I nearly always get a cold in November / December. During the racing season, I try to hold off any cold. But, once the season is over, I let go of any resistance and almost invite a cold. It’s the best time of the year to have one. A week off the bike, and I’m enjoying it; it’s amazing how much time you have when you don’t cycle 250 miles a week.
It doesn’t always work. I’ve had inopportune colds, just when I don’t want it. But, I think there is something in the idea we can have a mental influence over the body – either positive or negative. My feeling is that we are only just touching the surface of this mind-body link. I’m sure in hundreds of years time, people’s awareness of this will be greatly expanded and we will gain greater intuition and ability to influence this link.
But, at the moment, it’s back to the Vicks vapour rub and snotty handkerchiefs – and dreaming of cycling up Col du Tourmalet in the Pyranees next summer.