As a runner, inflammation will occur any time that you place a huge amount of stress on your body (whether mental or physical such as running a marathon) Therefore, it is something that we want to be thinking about as a runner.
Long distance runners are particularly susceptible to inflammation although the jury is still out as to whether it is due to:
According to WebMD, inflammation “is a process by which the body's white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.
However, it can be both a good and a bad thing.
On one hand, the inflammation that we incur after a workout or a run also known as acute inflammation is necessary to help our body change and make adaptations. It helps our body to heal after a strenuous workout or even when we are sick or suffering from an injury.
On the flip side chronic inflammation is when our body is in a state of inflammation over a period of days, weeks, even months! It can begin to wear down our tissues and joints and increases our chance of injury and other health related problems. This is what we want to be aware of and fight off!
There are so many of us walking around in a state of constant inflammation even though we might have it “low grade”. However, this is so harmful for our health!
Any time we think we might be experiencing inflammation, we want to monitor it to make sure it does not become chronic inflammation.
Some physical signs are:
Sometimes it can include running a fever, having hot and cold sweats, having a headache, or even feeling irritable.
Having chronic inflammation does not mean that you will consistently feel all of these things. Your body can get used to being in an inflammatory state after a while.
Just because you do not have a fever or don’t feel any pain does not mean that you are not suffering from inflammation.
dfAs a long distance runner, you’re probably nodding your head at the signs of inflammation since you more than likely have already experienced them.
But really how serious can it be?
Experiencing a long term inflammatory response can lead to these conditions:
By getting it under control you can benefit from:
Yes! Any time that we are in a state of inflammation we will raise our histamine and cortisol levels.
Lyn-Genet Recitas from Mind Body Green simplifies this for us stating that histamines cause us to hold onto water weight - which is why we might see a short term increase in our weight although we are eating clean after a day of not eating clean and cortisol increases our stress levels causing us to pack fat away for the long term. How pleasant.
Making sure that we are not in an inflammatory state will help us to stabilize these levels and allow us to burn versus store fat more efficiently. (The 12 Week Half Marathon Weight Loss Challenge will also help you do the same thing as well. ;)
Now that we realize that this is all a rather big deal, let’s talk about how we can combat and reduce it in our body!
I particularly love this anti-inflammatory food pyramid from Dr. Weil that is a wonderful reference! If you have time, click over to his article on anti-inflammatory foods!
(Photo source: drweil.com)
Lastly, assess how you feel consistently whether you might be experiencing acute or chronic inflammation.
Do you feel any aches, pains, stiffness, soreness?
Do you feel like you are on a sugar high, or even hung over? - If yes, start combating it with food, RICE, sleep, etc.)
Learn to be proactive so that you are not in a constant state of inflammation.
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