Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Exercise-Induced Inflammation
For many individuals, one of the worst side effects of rigorous exercise is joint inflammation. Running, weightlifting, resistance training, and other forms of exercise can all cause acute inflammation in the joints. Inflammation as a result of injured joints is one of the most common ailments among professional athletes.
In simplest terms, inflammation is nothing more than the enlargement or swelling of joint tissue. This swelling is often accompanied by a variety of issues including pain, discomfort, stiffness, redness, and a warm sensation.
For those who seek to maintain an active lifestyle, perhaps the worst symptom associated with inflammation is a reduced range of motion. This, in conjunction with joint pain, makes it extremely difficult just to move around, let alone maintain an intense exercise regimen.
What’s more, whether and how you exercise can affect your risk of developing more serious health conditions such as arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common diseases among middle-aged adults. There are many causes that lead to arthritis, but one of them can be a lifetime of wear and tear on the cartilage found in your knees and other weight-bearing joints.
Ironically, while exercise can lead to low-grade, temporary inflammation, it, along with a nutritious diet, may help prevent more serious inflammatory conditions like arthritis. In other words, exercise should not be avoided if inflammation is the major concern, as benefits of an active lifestyle greatly outweigh the drawbacks.
Depending on the individual and the type of exercise they choose to participate in, activity-induced inflammation may be unavoidable. In reality, all exercise causes some level of inflammation—it’s just how the body works. However, there are many ways to reduce, relieve, treat, and even prevent exercise-induce inflammation.
There are many factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing inflammation. Perhaps the worst culprit is obesity. Our skeletons and joints are designed to hold up only so much weight, and too much weight can overstress our frames.
The good news is being overweight is largely something we can correct on our own through improved diet and increased exercise. While the exercise may be painful at first, studies show that it likely won’t last. For an individual who weighs 250 pounds, just losing 10 to 12 pounds can minimize the pain and disability associated with inflammation.
Joint injuries, especially to knees and hips, are one of the most common causes of inflammation. Laboratory research on people and animals has shown that injuries, as well as wear and tear over time, may ignite low-grade inflammation that further damage joints.
Therefore, reducing the risk of injury can play a major factor in limiting the ill effects of inflammation. One of the best ways to do this is to select exercise and activities where the chances of injury are low. High-impact sports such as running, rugby, or football are more likely to result in joint injury than lower-impact activities such as swimming or cycling.
Several scientists and sports nutrition experts also recommend taking supplements containing chicken sternal cartilage extract. These supplements contain a patented ingredient called BioCell Collagen, which may reduce pain and other symptoms of inflammation, even osteoarthritis, according to at least five clinical studies.
Lastly, William Wong, ND, PhD, and World Sports Medicine Hall of Famer, recommends fighting inflammation before it flares up by ingesting systemic enzymes. According to Dr. Wong, who cites numerous scientific studies that support his recommendation, taking five to 10 systemic enzyme capsules immediately after a workout will “curb inflammation, improve recovery, speed tissue rebuilding and most importantly reduce the immune systems cortisol release in response to the post training inflammation.”