Mind-body link

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.

5 thoughts on “Mind-body link”

  1. I have been a big believer over the years, that if you have overtrained or the body feels it needs a rest, IT, will conjure up something to stop or slow you down whilst it recovers.

  2. I’ve started cycling to work summer 2013 (about 100 miles a week, whatever the weather).

    Since then I haven’t had a serious cold at all. Before that I would get maybe 2 to 3 a winter.

    Of course it’s a hard to prove that there is a causal relationship. Still I’d like to think the cycling has something to do with it. Maybe with improved stats over the next years…

  3. If you want to catch a cold the simplest way is to have children, I’ll happily send my 1 year old around Tejvan, one glance in his direction and you’ll be bunged up in no time! Kids are germ magnets, so are parents for that matter. I really can see why Hutch avoided social gatherings!!

  4. Good piece Tejvan,

    I took up road cycling much later than you at the ripe age of 45.I’ve always ridden a bike mostly on my work commute and kept fit by playing football and as my job as a postman which I still do.But I guess road cycling for me was a bit of an epiphany, a mid life thing something deep down I wanted to do but never had the time or money to devote to it.
    After two years of consistent training 4500 miles this year the odd sportive even climbing the Great Dun Fell, I’m really happy with my progress,knocking out the odd gold and a few top tens around my area of Guildford/Surrey. My weight has maintained a constant 11st… or below, a stone lighter than I was four years ago and I feel as fit as when I was 20.I often wonder if I had taken the opportunity in my younger years how much better a cyclist I could have been. But I believe that the physical and emotional rewards are greater now. The other plus factor, I haven’t burnt out.
    I have a bad cold at present and a week forced off the bike is no bad thing…all this free time to reflect and join the masses Christmas shopping. Patrick you are spot on re: being around kids and picking up colds.



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