Harming or Healing - How to Harness Inflammation

Inflammation.  Just the word can conjure up feelings of tenderness, swelling and even pain.  But is ALL inflammation bad?  Recent research says NO.  

Inflammation is your immune systems defense, helping you heal from an injury, attack infection and even create stronger muscles after a workout like strength-training or a cardio.  You see when you workout you create mini-traumas in your muscles.  These mini-traumas trigger a chemical response in your body that creates the inflammation needed to repair these mini-traumas making the muscles and even the bones stronger.  A recent study even suggests that workout induced inflammation may help the immune system work more efficiently - and who doesn't want that?!

But how much is TOO much inflammation?   Like everything in life....inflammation is healthly only in moderation.  Too much inflammation over time can create an over-abundance of wear and tear on healthy tissues and organs.  Being overweight, not getting enough sleep, constant stress and over-training can throw the good-for-you inflammation out of balance - tipping the scales and putting you in the danger zone.  

So what is a person to do?  Follow the steps below to help keep your inflammation in check:

  • Post Workout Stretching - After you exercise your muscles release a enzyme called creatine kinase (CK) that causes an inflammation response in muscles.  CK is important for energy metabolism but too much can create muscle weakness, pain, even heart attacks (excess amounts of CK have been found in people who have suffered heart attacks).   Light stretching like yoga, body-ball rolling or foam rolling increases blood flow and helps your body flush-out these overly-abundant enzymes preventing them from accumulating in your muscles. 
  • No Pain - No Gain....?  For some, the first response to muscle soreness is to reach for a bottle of ibuprofen but recent studies suggest that medications like ibuprofen (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs NSAIDS) may inhibit normal exercised-induced inflammation from happening and may even increase the risk for injury.  Your best bet is to pass on the NSAIDS unless you have an acute injury like muscle sprains, strains and tears.
  • No Rest for the Wicked......? - It's ok to be a beast when you workout but back to back intense workouts are a NO-NO.  Why?  Exercise creates free-radicals in the body and without the proper rest in between these workouts your body can become over-whelmed causing chronic inflammation that actually tears down the muscles that your trying to create!  Good indicators that you're training too hard are low energy, endurance, strength, motivation, sleep loss and frequent illness. 

Rules of the Game - It's important to keep in mind the 1 on 2 off rule.  Train hard on 1 day and rest for two.  But rest does not mean laying on the couch, eating bon - bon's watching your favorite reality show.  Rest days can be light yoga, walking, foam/body rolling and fascial stretching days.  These rest days are UBER important to your overall health and will help to prevent injury.  

At Fuse Yoga & Fitness, we've worked hard to create a schedule that helps you not only train hard but get those all-important rest days in between.   We not only want to help you achieve your health and fitness goals, we want to keep you safe and injury free!

For more information on our amazing-array of good-for-you classes check out our schedule  at www.fuseyogafitness.com/schedule

Got pain?  Check out our "Move without Pain" workshop on Sept. 18th from 10am - 12pm where you'll learn techniques that help stop inflammation in it's tracks and get you on your path to pain-free movement.