The Truth About Fatigue


This article by Dr. Bates comes from the Better Eyesight Magazines. It gives many hints about how to erase fatigue by using the body, mind, and breath correctly. Of course these same measures will help the sight. -gm

By W. H. Bates, M.D.

This is a true explanation of fatigue. The mystery of fatigue has been one almost equal in the mind of man for ages with the mystery of death. Dr. Bates explains not merely why there is fatigue, but the lack of necessity for it!

ABOUT fifteen years ago I was ambitious to learn how to run long distances. At that time I was, it seemed to me, the poorest runner ever invented. I could not run a mile or even a quarter of a mile. To run a block brought on palpitation of the heart and the loss of breath and fatigue was sickening. One of my dear friends told me it was impossible, that I was too old to attempt it, that it would be disastrous and that if I continued in my foolishness I would drop dead suddenly, without warning. Instead of his discouraging me, I felt an increased incentive to get busy. If I succeeded I could enjoy a conversation with my friend; but, if I failed, dropped dead, the conversation would be necessarily omitted.

At that time I belonged to a gymnasium which had a running track. The physical director promised to find out my faults. He had me run a lap and watched me closely. When I finally arrived at the starting point, all tired out, gasping for breath, he said: "Doctor, you will pardon me, I hope, when I tell you that you did not breathe naturally, but held your breath the whole distance." This knowledge was a great help; but, the strain I was under when running interfered with my breathing and was a more important factor in the cause of "fatigue" than the lack of air.

A few years ago some observations on the pulse, the heart, the breathing before and after a race of about twenty-six miles were published. It was an interesting fact that those who finished close behind the winner had no symptoms of fatigue, loss of breath or weakened action of the heart, while the winner was in better condition at the close of the race than at the beginning. Why? Answer: At the beginning his mind was excited; and, strange to say, because he was confident of winning this great race as he knew that he could run better than any of the men who were entered. And when he had won his mind calmed down and the action of his heart improved in consequence.

Much has been written on the cause of fatigue. A prominent physiologist who had for many years studied the numerous theories, made the statement not long ago: "We do not know now any more about fatigue than we did many years ago."

Running Oneself Into the Ground

I determined to obtain more facts. In one race I ran about eight miles and I made all the effort possible, planning to keep running until I dropped. The experience was valuable. Before I fell I lost all sense of effort, my sight failed, the ground appeared to be rising in front of me, I lost all perception of light, everything was midnight black. I had literally, actually, run myself into the ground. In a few minutes I was conscious. In spite of my protests they carried me away in an automobile.

In another experiment I entered a race of twelve miles. Just as soon as my sight failed I stopped running and walked until my vision was again normal, when I would again run some more. By alternating the walking and running I was able to finish with a sprint. A policeman invited me to sit down. Before I knew it they had me in an ambulance, galloping to the hospital, with me protesting all the way. I have run in many races since, finished in good condition and have escaped the kind attentions of the police and the ambulance service.

I now know the cause of fatigue; I know the remedy. I have cured myself. I have cured others while they in turn have relieved their friends. I can produce excessive fatigue in persons lying quietly in bed without any muscular exertion whatever. The facts are so simple they can be demonstrated by children or by adults who do not wear glasses; but, the most learned eye doctors or the great scientists of the world wearing glasses cannot understand.

A Demonstration With a Period

If possible, with the eyes closed, remember a small letter o with a white centre as white as the whitest snow. Then imagine a small black period on the right edge of the o. Keep the attention on it, or try to see the period continuously for several seconds or for part of a minute. Note that in a few seconds it becomes more and more difficult to hold the period or a small part of the o stationary, the mind becomes tired, the attention wanders, the period disappears and reappears, at times the o is forgotten, and one demonstrates that it is impossible to keep the attention fixed on a point continuously or to remember or imagine the letter o with one part stationary. Or that it is impossible to concentrate on a point, and that trying to do so or trying to do the impossible is a strain which modifies or destroys the memory or imagination, causes discomfort and fatigue. The fatigue produced can be relieved by shifting from one part of the letter to another, when the memory or imagination of the letter again become normal and continuous.

Or, another demonstration: look directly at a small letter which can be seen. Keep on trying to keep the attention fixed on the letter continuously. In a short time, a few seconds, the eyes begin to tire and if the effort is made strong enough, the vision becomes imperfect, and with other disagreeable symptoms much fatigue will be experienced.

Or, still another demonstration: regard a page of fine print at a distance where it is read easily and note the restful feeling, Then hold the page further off or at a near point where the letters are very much blurred. Make as strong an effort as possible to read the letters seen imperfectly. If the effort is strong enough one feels much fatigue. In this way one demonstrates that fatigue can be produced by eye strain.

So many people complain that they do not have time to practice and that they have fatigue. They are less inclined to practice central fixation, the universal swing, the memory of perfect sight and other things which relieve or prevent fatigue. It should be emphasized that one has just as much time to do right as he has to do wrong and it certainly is the wrong thing to go around most of the time suffering from fatigue. Prevention, Not Relief, for Fatigue

Theories are always wrong. As a working hypothesis the value of simply relieving fatigue is questionable.

I have a vision of the school children of this country able to do their work without discomfort or fatigue. The profession of teaching in the public schools requires much hard work and the teachers are quite properly objects of sympathy. This is all wrong because it can all be corrected. It is possible for people to do the hardest kind of work from early in the morning till late at night without any evidence of fatigue whatever. It is a puzzle for some people to explain how or why so many people are very much fatigued when they first wake up in the morning. Many society people hunt foe rest and recreation. They sit in a chair and try to do nothing and wonder why they get so terribly fatigued.

I have repeatedly published that the only time the eye is at rest is when one has or imagines perfect sight. The normal eye when it is at rest is all the time moving. Fatigue is relieved by a universal swing and the relief is instantaneous, demonstrating quite decidedly that fatigue is a mental symptom. I could go on and write much more but after all the matter may be summed up very briefly:

(l) Fatigue is always associated with the imagination of imperfect sight.

(2) Rest or relaxation is always associated with perfect sight or the imagination of perfect sight.


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