When it comes to training, sweat is part of the process. Everyone knows that sweating is one of the body’s mechanisms to cool it down by way of shedding excess heat built up internally. Working out certainly builds up excess heat, that if not shed would damage organs, the brain and other major systems of the body. So, we sweat.
Most people have heard that sweating is healthy, and the more one sweats during exercise the healthier they are. We can, however, over-sweat and drain out bodies not only of essential fluids, but also minerals, vitamins, essential core yin fluid and imbalance the electrolytes. All of this stresses every major organ, the nervous system, endocrine system, respiratory system, circulatory system, lymphatic system and others. In old school TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), sweating depletes ad weakens the blood.
Many medications and health issues prevent or decrease people’s ability to sweat, which is just as bad as sweating too much. Multiple sclerosis, Demyelinating conditions, Diabetes and other conditions prevent proper sweating. Alcoholism, Clonidine, Barbiturates, Opioids, Anticholinergics and other medications and abuses also prevent the body from sweating at proper and healthy levels.
When training in contact sports and combative modalities, getting the sweat from others on you is a natural part of the activity. You don’t even need to be part of any of that to exchange sweat. All a person needs to exchange sweat is to have an intimate partner! While sweating is healthy, it has its downsides for sweat exchange.
Beyond cooling the system down, the body also sweats to detoxify itself. Again, common knowledge. But what isn’t really common knowledge is what comes out of the body in sweat. We live in a toxic environment within this industrialized and “modernized” world. Our bodies are much like the oceans – they accumulate large amounts of toxins. We not only take in toxins through our mouths with foods, water and air, but also our ears, nose and through our skin; our pores.
We have about 18 square feet of skin that contains around 650 sweat glands per square inch. If my math is correct that means we have about 4 million sweat glands! Skin is not only or largest organ, but also the largest area we have to absorb toxins… and release them.
The skin is porous. Sweat and toxins come out and the external world seeps in. Just look at how many medications are applied to the skin because the body absorbs and utilizes it far better than taking it through the mouth. Our skin breathes constantly – fact. Another fact is that toxic chemicals taken into the body many times are excreted far easier through the skin in the form of sweat than through the bowels or urine.
Chemicals (beneficial and harmful ones) such as:
Phthalates, PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls – not all but some of them), Methadone, Tin, Thallium, Lead, Nickel, Antimony, Amphetamines, Bisphenol, Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, Iron, Aluminum, Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Manganese, Chromium, Chloride and Copper to name a few.
Back to close contact training.
When we are working out with a partner, and sweating, we are excreting toxins. Your training partner is also excreting toxins through their sweat. What you sweat out, your partner’s skin will partly absorb, especially when hot and the pores are wide open. And the same goes for your skin, absorbing what your partner’s skin excretes. We not only breathe in possible toxins the other person breathes out; just by exchanging sweat we can be exposed to toxins from another person. The more skin we have exposed, the more sweat exchange occurs.
We cannot avoid this kind of exchange if we are involved in anything requiring close contact while participating in sweat inducing activities. But it is something to be aware of. It can help to know who you are exchanging sweat with; their lifestyle, level of health, diet, etc. Showering immediately after working out can help cleanse the skin of lingering toxins, and help the pores clear surface toxins. Hydrating after working out is also an essential aspect of helping the body clean out toxins, not only the urination, but also through the lingering sweat process as the body works to cool down.
Hydrate – exercise and continue hydrating – sweat – stop exercising – hydrate more while the cool down sweat happens – shower – hydrate some more with lightly salted water
We are not germless, pure organic forms of physical life. But the body continually tries to clean itself from toxic overload. And the more the modern industrialized pursuit and mentality moves along, the more toxic our environment becomes; meaning the more toxic we have the potential of becoming. And our body’s natural methods of detoxing can actually be toxifying to others.
On another note, one reason we sweat when we are in pain is because it is a way the body works to combat the pain experience. Sweating produces enkephalin, which is a neurotransmitter that literally reduces the mental and physical perception of pain, both physical and emotional pain.
I’ve always told people that before they begin a training regime that would require close contact with others, to go through a detoxification process first, one agreed upon by their healthcare practitioner. It is something not only healthy and empowering to the individual, but also a respectful thing to do for the people they will train with.
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Elder White Wolf: