What happens to your body when you stop moving for 269 days?

Exercise is important, we all know that. People are debating how much you should work out, how much you should sleep, drink and eat. But what happens to the human body when you stop using it? What would happen to a person who trains hard 9-12 times a week and competes on a high level of Karate if that person suddenly stopped training, stopped moving and just simply spent his days mostly just laying around, resting, for 269 days?
That´s what happend to me of course. 
Some background history
Ever since I was about 18 years old I´ve spent a lot of my time figuring out how to eat, train and sleep to get the most out of it. When competing in karate I had to maintain my weight to fit in my own weight class. In 2013-2014 I was competing in the -75kg division. It became harder and harder for me each month to maintain my weight. I was willing to eat less to weigh less, but at the same time I wanted to become stronger and faster. It was just not adding up. Eventually it became to hard to keep fighting in that division so I moved up a step, to the -84kg division.
Some real GAINS ;-) 
All of a sudden I saw new opportunities. I could eat more, train more and most importantly, I could weigh more. As I trained more I got bigger, stronger and faster, of course I had to adapt a lot to my new weight class, but I was satisfied with my choice. 
NOW, what would happen if I stopped moving? 
**(Everything has been meisured by a proffessional with precise accuracy. All statistics can be found down below)
Day -3 before the concussion: 24th of August 2016
  • Weight: 83,5kg
  • Body fat: 9,6%
  • Fat free mass: 75,5kg
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 43,5kg
Day 269 after the concussion: 23th of May 2017
  • Weight: 75,1kg
  • Body fat: 12,6%
  • Fat free mass: 65,7kg
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 37,0kg
This means that when I stopped training for "just" 269 days I lost 6,5kg of muscle mass!!
And all of this happend to a 21 year old who had been training at a elite level for many years and who had no injuries or some other kind of illness what so ever, but still lost the muscle mass as the weight of 6,5 milk packages!?
This truly shows the importance of exercise. How difficult it is to build muscles, but how easy it is to lose them. When recovering from injuries athletes have to consider how much muscle mass they´ve lost to begin training at a level relative to their current status. 
Me myself won´t see this scale improving any time soon, but eventually I will hopefully recover from my concussion, and then I have a long way to climb back to where I used to be.
**All facts have been tested and confirmed by Peter Stenberg, sport dietitian at Malmö Idrottsakademi.
- A big thank you to Peter Stenberg who have been helping me since august 2014. 
Stats from 3 days before the concussion
Stats from 269 days after the concussion

Describing something most people won´t ever experience

How does the aftermath of a concussion feel like?

Hmm…well let´s talk about the obvious. You have almost constant headaches and it gets better when you rest and it´s get worse when you don´t. You have a hard time focusing and you can also get memory loss that can vary a lot between different people. It can last for only a few days or for the rest of your life, depending on the injury.


Now to the scary part. The part that often is extremely hard to explain to other people. The part I would like to call “brain exhaustion”. Your tired, you can´t focus, you can´t listen to what anyone is saying without screaming inside. You have difficulties thinking.


THINKING has become one of your daily difficulties. You feel dizzy almost all the time, not alert, almost like you´re dreaming, but you can´t interact with anything. Your surroundings don’t mean anything anymore. You are just a brain, that´s it. Your body doesn’t matter at all, only your brain. You can almost feel it laying in there on the inside of your skull, just lying there, hurting. Ever since I had my last concussion, everything, every day have seemed blurry, like I wasn´t there to begin with, like it was all a dream, and I can´t remember that much of it. It´s a scary feeling, and it keeps we awake quite often still.

Am I hopeful about my own future in sports, as a coach, a father, a physiotherapist? Yes, very.


Am I hopeful for my brain, that I won´t end up having Parkinsons or Alzheimers? No, not so much.

Peoples reactions

Everyone should understand, right? Just tell them. No...far from it. People have their own thoughts on almost any subject and, to quote Mark Twain:

- "What gets us into trouble is not what we don´t know. It´s what we know for sure that just ain´t so."


I´ve been called stupid (literally...) when explaining that practicing "sport karate" (a non full-contact sport) can lead to brain damage. I´ve even had a doctor telling me that minor concussions not even are dangerous for your brain, at all, only the big ones are. 

I´ve had people telling to my face that it´s crazy that I would think that I had brain damage after practicing "sport karate" when they themselves done this and this and that and that and taken many hard blows to their head and have had up to 15 concussions without any brain damage. 

Well...that might be, but it doesn’t change my life situation one bit. All people are different, we have different bodies and different brains and we react differently to certain kinds of physical trauma. Maybe you have had 15 concussions (not counting the sub-concussive blows), but it doesn’t seem likely. 


The problems today, I think is that people don´t know how fragile the brain actually is. You can´t tape it, you can´t see it. If you look at my brain in f.x. an X-ray, you will see nothing but a completely healthy brain. Why? Because todays X-rays can´t detect everything, only a brain biopsy can, and they don´t do that very often.



Watch the movie "Concussion" starring Will Smith in the lead role. An amazing movie! Then do some fact checking afterwards and watch a documentary about the characters in that movie, then you will realize how hard this subject is.

There is no "four weeks of rest then your fine" anymore. Doctors do not know enough to be certain about such a claim. No one can know for sure when it comes to the brain. And the best doctors in this area will say the same, that they do not know. And being sure of what you don´t know, is far better then a doctor who do know something that actually just ain´t so.


"I write this, not to prevent people from practicing a sport or martial art, but to teach how to practice it safely" - Victor Bull

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