Can Fighting Inflammation Speed Recovery? 7 Fast Facts
Inflammation is a confusing topic in health and fitness. We’re encouraged to reduce inflammation while knowing inflammation is a vital biological defense mechanism. For the athlete, you often train with the intent to break yourself down in a way that you turn on the powers of inflammation. Yet inflammation is commonly referred to as a driver of disease. Time Magazine once ran a cover declaring inflammation “The Secret Killer.”
Understanding the basics of inflammation will help you adopt a 24/7 performance-through-recovery advantage.
With this in mind, what are the simple facts about inflammation that you need to know to stay healthy, feel good and support your pursuit for more performance through smart recovery?
Reduce Inflammation & Speed Recovery: 7 Keys
What is inflammation? And how do you make inflammation work for you instead of against you? A good starting point is understanding acute vs chronic inflammation. Then understand how to reduce inflammation after a workout with a recovery ritual. Finally—and perhaps the most important piece—how to prevent chronic inflammation.
1. Acute inflammation Heals
Acute inflammation is your immune system’s response to injuries, exposure to pathogens and other harmful events. You get hurt and acute inflammation kicks in. Cytokines, a small protein, are sent to protect the affected area, sweep away damaged cells and circulate oxygen, nutrients, and antibodies to aid healing. It’s also a part of how your body recovers and adapts from a tough workout. Acute inflammation comes on quick but lasts only for a matter of hours or a few days. Slice your thumb while chopping vegetables and you’ll see your body’s acute inflammation response in gear. You’ll also experience it after a hard workout or competition. Soreness, redness, pain, swelling—these are all signs of acute inflammation.
2. Acute inflammation is a part of sport and exercise
If you play any kind of sport at any level, some level of inflammation is inevitable. It’s the immune system’s natural response to the kinds of trauma produced by exercise and sport. You intentionally incur muscle micro-tears in a workout with the goal of getting stronger; acute inflammation is a player in this restoration. Competition can also incite acute inflammation. Picture the marathon runner gingerly walking up and down steps in the days immediately following a race. He or she has acute inflammation making for tender calf muscles, hamstrings, and glutes. For obvious reasons, contact sports like football and hockey produce acute inflammation in the players. Acute inflammation is what helps them heal and recover so they can play in the next game.
3. Chronic inflammation: A threat to health
Chronic inflammation is bad news. This is when your body is stuck in inflammation mode and white blood cells and cytokines are circulated, possibly attacking organs and tissues that are undamaged. Chronic inflammation has been tied to diseases like cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Bones can also be harmed as well as the gut’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients.
4. Chronic inflammation undermines Pliability & performance
When chronically inflamed, white blood cells and cytokines also target healthy muscles, inhibiting the recovery process. Chronic inflammation is the enemy of pliability. Chronically inflamed muscles are functioning in a suboptimal state: short, tight and dense. Potential performance goes down the drain. On top of severe health risks, chronic inflammation will restrict your potential for athletic performance.
5. Reduce inflammation = Faster recovery
Reducing acute inflammation directly accelerates recovery. Anything you do to reduce inflammation—like hydrating, avoiding processed foods, and activating pliability before and after workouts with TB12 Vibrating Devices—speeds up recovery and maximizes pliability.
Exercise is one potent weapon (the so-called “Exercise Factor”) to counter the possibility of chronic inflammation. As detailed in the Journal of Experimental Biology, skeletal muscles—the largest organ in the body—are functionally an endocrine organ when contracted, secreting myokines that have hormonal effects on other organs in a favorable fashion that may help prevent the onset of chronic diseases.
One value of using TB12 Resistance Bands in strength, conditioning, and active recovery programs is that you can induce the exercise factor while limiting the inflammation and overload incurred when lifting heavy weights.
6. To Speed Recovery, focus on pre & post-workout pliability
Optimal recovery delivers optimal performance, and what you do before and after your workout supports this process. Targeting pliability—before and after workouts— will allow for ongoing regeneration.
Post-workout nutrition is also crucial. After a workout, for example, consuming a smoothie using TB12 Instant Whey Protein within 20 minutes take advantage of your body’s acute inflammation response to provide muscles nutrients and speed recovery.
7. To Reduce inflammation, Align your lifestyle habits
Avoid habits that dull your recovery. When it comes to recovery and inflammation, food may be the most powerful drug of all. Eating the right foods can promote anti-inflammation. Junk food can have the opposite effect, possibly inducing chronic inflammation. Highly processed foods, sugar, white flour, processed meats: All powerful drugs that will work against your desire to recover from training. They also have consequences on your health. In fact, a recent randomized, controlled study in Cell Metabolism demonstrated the impact intake of highly-processed foods can have on a person. Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina, told NPR that the report was stunning in its analysis. “The difference in weight gain for one [group] and weight loss for the other during these two periods is phenomenal,” he said. “We haven’t seen anything like this.”
Add to this list too much alcohol, poor hydration and not enough sleep. You can either boost the value of your workouts through a holistic, anti-inflammatory lifestyle or sap your workouts of all their potential juice.
Inflammation is for sure a complex biological process, but making it work for you requires a fairly simple, holistic approach. Keep your nutrition and hydration in check, be disciplined with your recovery program and get plenty of sleep. You will net immediate and long-term results.