It's important to know the exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown.
Dorsal Vagal Shutdown is a state where the body's parasympathetic nervous system is activated, causing reduced heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate.
In this state, it's important to avoid exercises and practices that further stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, hence keeping you in dorsal vagal shutdown even longer. These practices can include slow, controlled movements such as yoga or meditation, which can cause a further decrease in heart rate and blood pressure.
Other exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown are exercises that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system too quickly, because those exercises and practices can cause an unexpected and dangerous increase in both heart rate and blood pressure. These exercises include practices like high-intensity exercises or aerobic activities.
And while there are many different exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown, there are exercises that you benefit your body when it's in dorsal vagal shutdown. Exercises that promote gentle movements, such as walking, swimming, and somatic exercise are much more more beneficial to do when if you're experiencing dorsal vagal shutdown.
Practices And Exercises To Avoid If You’re In Dorsal Vagal Shutdown
High Intensity Exercises
If you're experiencing dorsal vagal shutdown, it's crucial to avoid high intensity exercises, which is defined as any form of movement or exercise that gets your heart rate up above 75% of your max heart rate for 10 minutes or more.
So if you're someone who does HIIT workouts regularly, these exercises should be avoided if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown.
Engaging in high intensity exercises can exacerbate the symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown and potentially lead to fainting or other adverse events. These types of exercise also keep your body in a hyper-arousal state, where you're experiencing fight or flight mode, impulsiveness, hyper-vigilance, anger, and chaos.
High Impact Exercises
More exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown are high impact exercises like running, jumping, and any activity that causes greater impact on the joints and feet. Exercises like these also keep your body in a hyper-arousal state, and continuing them while you're in dorsal vagal shutdown can exacerbate the symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown, leading to fatigue, headaches, and muscle pain.
Hot yoga is another one of the exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown due to the temperature extremes you'd experience doing it.
In hot yoga, the body is sometimes subjected to temperatures as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat can exacerbate symptoms associated with dorsal vagal shutdown, making it more difficult to concentrate and causing increased fatigue. Additionally, the heat can place undue stress on the body, leading to dehydration and cardiovascular strain. While hot yoga may be beneficial for some individuals, it is not recommended for those who suffer from dorsal vagal shutdown.
Heavy Weight Lifting
When your body is in dorsal vagal shutdown, your body enters a state of shutdown due to extreme physical and emotional stress, which means it also shuts down its non-essential functions to conserve energy for survival. So more exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown are things like heavy weight lifting, because of the intensity of physical exertion it requires.
While there are certainly specific exercises to avoid if you’re in dorsal vagal shutdown, there's also the practice of over-exercising that you should avoid.
Engaging in vigorous over-exercising during a state of shutdown can be harmful and counterproductive because it further stresses the body, raises cortisol levels, leads to inflammation and fatigue, and exacerbates the symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown.
Vinyasa yoga is another exercise to avoid if you’re in dorsal vagal shutdown because it can increase anxiety and stress levels.
Vinyasa Yoga is a fast-paced style of yoga that involves a lot of movement and flowing from one pose to the next, and can overstimulate the nervous system, leading to feelings of overwhelm and burnout.
Although not an "exercise", meditation is a practice that should be avoided if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown.
While in dorsal vagal shutdown, you body enters a low-energy conservation state, making it difficult for individuals to engage in physical or mental activities that may stimulate the nervous system.
And since meditation typically involves a focused awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations within the body which can result in increased physiological arousal and stimulation of the nervous system, it's best to avoid it while your body is in shutdown.
Seeing A Chiropractor
While your body is in dorsal vagal shutdown, it's not beneficial to see a chiropractor due to the intense connection between your nervous system and your spine.
Chiropractic adjustments involve the manipulation of the spine, which can affect the nervous system and cause a further dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.
Seeing A Massage Therapist
One last practice to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown is to see a massage therapist. Since dorsal vagal shutdown is a state in which the body's vital functions slow down, massage therapy can put someone in such a relaxed state that it can further trigger those vital functions to slow down even further.
While massage therapy can be an effective treatment for some conditions, it can be detrimental for people in dorsal vagal shutdown.
Best Exercise For Dorsal Vagal Shutdown
Rather than just focus on the exercises to avoid if you're in dorsal vagal shutdown, here's an exercise to help you heal from dorsal vagal shutdown.
If you're experiencing dorsal vagal shutdown, somatic exercises may be an effective way to help you manage your symptoms. Somatic exercises work by retraining the brain and body to respond to stress in a more adaptive way. They involve movements that increase awareness of sensations in the body, such as breathing, stretching, and gentle movements. By practicing somatic exercises regularly, you can learn to recognize and release tension in your body, which can help reduce symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown. Additionally, somatic exercises can also help improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation and calmness. Overall, somatic exercises are a valuable tool for anyone experiencing dorsal vagal shutdown and seeking relief from associated symptoms.
You can re-stimulate your dorsal vagus nerve in 60 days with somatic exercises with one of our programs.