Heart Felt

How you can pre­vent in­jury-in­duc­ing and anx­i­ety-based heart­burn

Figure Skater Fitness - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - by Adri­ana Ermter

Chances are, you know that anx­i­ety is your body’s nat­u­ral re­sponse to stress. Hav­ing a lit­tle bit of anx­i­ety now and then is nor­mal, but if you’re con­stantly wor­ry­ing about an in­jury that’s on the mend or fuss­ing about an up­com­ing com­pe­ti­tion, you can spike your stress lev­els caus­ing in­creased anx­i­ety, which can then lead to heart­burn.

Sure, it may not sound like a big deal. I mean, come on, you can pop an antacid and be done with it. And yet, it is. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Niket Son­pal, an in­ternist and gas­troen­terol­o­gist at Touro Col­lege of Medicine, heart­burn or acid in­di­ges­tion hap­pens when stom­ach acid flows back­ward into the esoph­a­gus. Not only is it’s burn­ing, gur­gling pres­ence sud­den and painful, heart­burn can feel like the air is be­ing punched out of your lungs and it can cause hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion, a tight feel­ing in your chest and even, up­per ab­dom­i­nal pain—all of which can af­fect you on the ice and dur­ing dry land train­ing, po­ten­tially caus­ing an in­jury.

So while you may feel foot sure and care­free most of the time, should you ex­pe­ri­ence the pres­sures of com­pe­ti­tion and want to keep your stress lev­els in check and your body in top form, put these tips into prac­tice.


When it comes to work­ing out, most of your gear is close fit to your body. Yet when you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing high lev­els of anx­i­ety and stress, wear­ing loose fit cloth­ing like a soft t-shirt and sweat pants is not only com­fort­able, it can help pre­vent heart­burn. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Heart­burn Al­liance, squeez­ing into too-tight cloth­ing can in­crease ab­dom­i­nal pres­sure and may re­sult in a heart­burn at­tack. While most at­tacks are un­ex­pected, some are ex­cru­ci­at­ing and can cause you to dou­ble over, fall and po­ten­tially hurt your­self.


“High-fat food can spell trou­ble if you’re prone to heart­burn,” ad­vises Dr. Son­pal. So put down the pep­per­oni and cheese pizza and choose healthy op­tions, like lean meats, green veg­eta­bles and whole grains. Peo­ple who suf­fer from heart­burn of­ten know the trig­ger foods that cause symp­toms, says Dr. Son­pal. “Com­mon foods in­clude choco­lates, caf­feine and greasy foods. These foods re­lax the lower esoph­a­gus sphinc­ter mus­cle, when this mus­cle is re­laxed, the food will go back up and cause heart­burn. Other foods that can trig­ger heart­burn in­clude acidic foods such as cit­rus fruits or car­bon­ated bev­er­ages.” The Na­tional Heart­burn Al­liance rec­om­mends avoid­ing creamy salad dress­ings, as well as oil and vine­gar, toma­toes, raw onions and other acid-ag­gra­vat­ing in­gre­di­ents.


Take the time to eat slowly and en­joy your food. Rush­ing through your meal or chew­ing with your mouth open can in­crease your chances of in­di­ges­tion or heart­burn. Linger over your food and al­low your­self to feel full by giv­ing your food time to di­gest.


Even if you have chronic heart­burn, you don’t have to give up your favourite foods. You just have to choose wisely to save your­self some pain later on. For ex­am­ple, mashed pota­toes can trig­ger heart­burn, but baked pota­toes may not. When it comes to dairy prod­ucts, the less fat the bet­ter. “When choos­ing car­bo­hy­drates, multi­grain bread or rolls and corn bread are good choices, while mac­a­roni and cheese and other pasta dishes are known to trig­ger acid re­flux,” says Dr. Son­pal.


A post-meal nap is al­ways tempt­ing and easy to do when you’re at com­pe­ti­tion, in a new city or coun­try and don’t have a reg­u­lar rou­tine to fall back on. Nap­ping is also an easy go-to when you’re feel­ing over­whelmed or your body is over tired from train­ing. “. In­stead of fall­ing asleep, try go­ing for a walk,” sug­gests Dr. Son­pal. “Es­pe­cially sleep­ing right af­ter eat­ing can in­crease GERD symp­toms.”


To avoid in­jury, your brain needs to func­tion at full ca­pac­ity when you’re train­ing and com­pet­ing, so that means get­ting a good night’s sleep ev­ery night. And yet, de­spite your best ef­forts, stress and anx­i­ety can neg­a­tively af­fect your sleep. One way to help com­bat in­som­nia and un­com­fort­able heart­burn is to main­tain a con­sis­tent sleep sched­ule by get­ting up and go­ing to bed at the same time ev­ery day.


As counter-in­tu­itive as it may seem, con­sid­er­ing you prob­a­bly count how many glasses of wa­ter you drink each day, stop­ping your wa­ter in­take at night-time is ac­tu­ally a good thing. Not only will you get a bet­ter night’s sleep as you won’t need to go to the bath­room in the mid­dle of the night, you’ll also halt heart­burn. “Drink­ing and eat­ing too close to bed­time can make acid re­flux worse,” af­firms Dr. Son­pal. “Stop eat­ing and drink­ing, wa­ter in­cluded, three hours be­fore bed­time.”


Keep a stress jour­nal, writ­ing down what you’re do­ing, think­ing and feel­ing when you start to feel your stress and anx­i­ety lev­els ris­ing. Take note of what you ate and drank dur­ing the day, as well as how much sleep you had the night prior and any ex­er­cise or so­cial­iza­tion that may have re­leased some of the stress from your body. You’ll also want to high­light when you ex­pe­ri­ence heart­burn, what your symp­toms are and how long they last. Then, show your coach and/or par­ents your jour­nal en­tries so that to­gether you can cre­ate an ac­tion plan.

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