CategoriesVagus Nerve 101

Fight or Flight vs. Rest & Recovery: How Truvaga Reshapes Workouts

vagus nerve stimulation fitness recovery

For some of us, getting off the couch and saddling up on a dusty beach cruiser for the first time in weeks is a victory.

For others, capping off a grueling training regimen to set a personal best time en route to an actual championship is that victory.

But no matter your fitness level or athletic aspirations, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for fitness recovery is a critical post-workout consideration.

That’s because when the body is stressed and fatigued, whether after 2 or 20 miles, it activates the sympathetic nervous system — that “fight or flight” response responsible for second winds and first-place ribbons.

However, oftentimes it’s not deactivated when the finish line is crossed or the clock hits zero, as it is designed to happen, placing continued stress on your already weary mind and body.

This same scenario can be true when you’re not breaking a literal sweat — but instead experiencing any number of angst-ridden scenarios that trigger an influx of physiological responses that accompany stress. You see, this is where your body’s parasympathetic nervous system — led by your vagus nerve — is supposed to clock in and get to work, flipping the switch to rest and recovery mode.

When vagus nerve stimulation for fitness recovery doesn’t happen naturally, it’s time to explore vagus nerve stimulation recovery techniques. And that’s precisely what we’re here to do.

In this article, we’ll further explore the relationship between fitness recovery and the vagus nerve, as well as the benefits of VNS for athletes and weekend warriors, and how to use vagus nerve stimulation for recovery — including Truvaga.

The Importance of Vagal Tone

Your vagus nerve function is a big domino that can collapse onto a number of additional key processes throughout your body’s most critical systems. For starters, there is vagal tone, which refers to the activity level of our body’s longest cranial nerve. When, for example, our bodies are not recovering properly after physical activity — failing to make the switch to the parasympathetic nervous system — it can cause what’s called low vagal tone. [1] Low vagal tone can increase stress and anxiety, leading to elevated inflammation, delaying muscle recovery, and lowered heart rate variability (HRV), indicating our body is failing to adapt to increasing levels of stress. Even more so, low HRV can be a sign of underlying or chronic health issues.[2]

This may sound discouraging. After all, whether you’re just trying to get in better shape or training hardcore for “American Ninja Warrior,” you put in the time and effort to improve your level of fitness. You deserve to feel good about yourself and earn that “rest and recovery” reward. Who knew it could seemingly backfire because of your nervous system’s failure to effectively initiate recovery?

Well, for all the issues a low vagal tone can create, high vagal tone can do just the opposite: creating an anti-inflammatory effect, aiding in muscle recovery, and accelerating HRV. But if it’s not occurring organically, it may be time to consider vagus nerve stimulation for fitness recovery and the various available VNS recovery techniques, including Truvaga.

Right-Sizing Your Workout for Better Recovery

Before we dig into the benefits of VNS for athletes, we should share a cautionary note about pounding too much pavement or pumping too much iron.

Overzealous, seriously pulse-pounding workouts may be a contributing factor to your body’s failure to allow the vagus nerve to guide it into that well-earned rest and recovery mode that should cap off a solid workout.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that an exercise regimen that overstresses the body can disrupt or even damage [3] vagus nerve function, crashing against those adjacent dominos we referenced earlier: vagal tone and HRV.[3]

This, in turn, can translate to a negative mood in the day following your workout (especially if it’s a Monday, right?). Other side effects may include constantly feeling rundown, stalled physical performance, random aches and pains, and even difficulty sleeping.

One alternative to intense endurance training, which is known to short-circuit the vagus nerve, is interval training. This approach mixes rest and recovery periods into segments of more intense workouts.[4] Other tactics for creating a more balanced routine include adding rest days to your schedule for additional recovery time, as well as simply listening to your body (or using health tracking apps to assist) and tailoring your exercise to what feels right.

Benefits of VNS for Athletes & Weekend Warriors

We’ve detailed several benefits that can be attributed to a high-functioning vagus nerve — and the relatively high vagal tone and HRV that accompany it — whether it occurs naturally or via VNS. That said, there are some benefits that may be of greater interest to athletes pursuing vagus nerve stimulation for fitness recovery.

For example, the ability to minimize inflammation throughout the body is critical for both those simply trying to keep in shape and serious athletes with more ambitious fitness pursuits. This ranges from fending off arthritis and asthma to decreasing the risk for more serious chronic ailments, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.[5]

Of course, there are always exceptions; for example, those repairing and building muscle mass will endure some level of inflammation.[6] Inflammation is, in fact, part of the natural healing process.

Blood pressure regulation, digestion, hormone management, and even balancing one’s mood also lead the list of VNS benefits that may be of special interest to athletes and their performance on the practice or playing field.[7]

This may also be an important place to note that there are benefits of VNS for athletes that extend beyond recovery. Studies have found that HRV training can lead to increased power output for those ranging from recreational runners to cyclists.

So, think about VNS recovery techniques as a proactive step toward your next personal best time and not simply a post-race or workout routine.

How to Use Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Recovery

We’ve been talking about VNS recovery techniques, but we’ve yet to dive into the actual options for vagus nerve stimulation for fitness recovery — and how they compare to one another.

Here’s a look at some of the more popular methods of vagus nerve stimulation for recovery:

Deep breathing. Also called diaphragmatic breathing, this slow breathing technique is known to trigger the vagus nerve’s relaxation response. Easy enough, right? Everyone already knows how to breathe, and nothing extra is needed. But have you ever tried telling someone experiencing distress to “calm down?” The outcome doesn’t always go as planned. This technique may take a little time to master, but it belongs in your toolkit.

Massage. Whether you’re using a cheap foam roller on your own neck or getting a 5-star reflexology massage from a professional, massage has shown a capacity to enhance vagal tone.[8] That said, the most effective massages require an expert provider, which may also come with a price.

Cold Therapy. You don’t need to take a polar plunge into a bone-chilling lake to experience the therapeutic power of cold water.[8] Taking a cold shower or applying an ice pack to your neck can do the trick. While cold therapy has been shown to reduce heart rate and produce an overall calming effect, sometimes the opposite can happen. Risks ranging from cold shock response — which can actually increase heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing — to hypothermia can occur in some instances.

Handheld Vagus Nerve Stimulators. Now we’re talking Truvaga, the handheld vagus nerve stimulator that’s been vetted through extensive testing and clinical studies. Perhaps best of all, it offers proven, on-demand vagus nerve therapy in quick, 2-minute sessions. The portable, easy, and drug-free solution is unlike any VNS technique available.

Truvaga is your secret weapon

We often imagine that the most difficult part of planning and pulling off a consistent, effective workout regimen is the discipline to make it happen — or finding that extra kick when we need it most. But as it turns out, being stuck in a stressful state of fight-or-flight after wrapping your workout can be even more difficult. That’s where vagus nerve stimulation for fitness recovery comes in. And that’s just one reason we created Truvaga.

Learn more about the powerful science behind Truvaga — or start shopping for your handheld vagus nerve stimulator today.


[1] Truvaga, Why Vagal Tone Could Be the Key to Finding Balance in Your Life,

[2] NIFS for Fitness, Lauren Zakrajsek, What Happens in Vagus: Jump-start Recovery by Increasing Vagal Tone,

[3] Psychology Today, Christopher Bergland, Take It Easy: Too Much Exercise Frazzles the Vagus Nerve,

[4] Tj Nutrition, Dr. Diana Driscoll, Athletes and the Vagus Nerve,

[5] Journal of Applied Physiology, Anne Marie W. Petersen and Bente Klarlund Pedersen, The anti-inflammatory effect of exercise,

[6] TrueSport. Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD, 9 Surprising Things you Need to Know About Inflammation,

[7] The Center for Health and Wellbeing, Vagus Nerve: Its Function and the Benefits of Stimulating It,

[8] Charlie Health, Ashley Laderer, 5 Vagus Nerve Exercises to Help You Chill Out,