First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Second, if you’re like me, you may feel like one puffy being coming out of the holidays and feel like you’re literally ROLLING into 2017. You know, that constant bloated feeling in your mid-section and all your joints stiff and swollen. After reshaping my nutrition during marathon training and doing a type of “food cleanse” (nothing crazy just stripping down my food to the blandest of bland for about a month) the year before, I’ve discovered some quick, although not always easy, tricks to attacking the chronic inflammation that I’m trying to refocus on and so I thought I would share with you.
I’ve specified chronic inflammation since acute inflammation, the kind your body creates to facilitate healing when there is a specific injury, is totally natural and a critical part of the healing process. Chronic inflammation, however, lasts much longer (duhhhh) AND, here’s the important part, has been linked to a wide range of degenerative health disorders. In essence your body is in a constant cycle of pain response and “healing” that ultimately starts to change the cell make-up in the inflamed area. Kind of scary if you ask me. As runners, if we don’t take care of our body what starts as acute inflammation from tendinitis, an ankle sprain, etc. can turn into chronic inflammation over time. Through my own experience, chats with my massage therapist and doctors, here’s what I have to offer:
- Arnica is your new best friend. It’s a homeopathic “medicine” that naturally minimizes bruising and relieves inflammation. Basically when I am tempted to pop 2, okay probably more like 4, Ibuprofen, I massage a quarter size amount of Arnica Gel on the affected area instead. When done at night, I’ve CONSISTENTLY woken up with more mobility in the joint and a noticeable decrease in inflammation. As a mother of a 5 year-old I can also vouch for it’s bruising minimization properties. My motto – When in doubt, ARNICARE!
- Artificial Sugar is NOT your friend. The findings from scientific studies are still really new so this one will need to be a little more “listen to your body” versus a prescriptive recommendation but the early studies are finding a link between chronic inflammation and artificial sugar consumption. As I mentioned earlier, after the holidays, when my sugar and alcohol consumption pretty much triples from its normal levels, my body definitely “swells” to unhealthy levels. We’ve all heard about “sneaky sugar” you know the kind hiding in pretty much every packaged food, but why not start with cutting back (notice I didn’t say cut OUT – I’m not a monster) the sugar you put in your coffee (or tea). If you’re a soda drinker, wean yourself off by decreasing your consumption by 25% each week for the next 4 weeks. any sweets still left in the house after the holidays? THROW THEM OUT! Once you feel the difference in your body, you’ll just want to take a look at cleaning up other areas of your diet.
- Myofacial release – sooooooo good! This one isn’t as much of a preventive practice but it is critical to stopping the cycle once you’ve decreased the levels of chronic inflammation in your body. Fascia is “is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. Fascia is classified by layer, as superficial fascia, deep fascia, and visceral or parietal fascia, or by its function and anatomical location.” (Source: Wikipedia). After trauma or inflammation, your fascia can become extremely tight constricting blood flow and restricting mobility. You can “self myofacial release” but please note that the “foam roller” you see laying around most gyms these days is starting to be viewed as to hard and/or too bulky to effectively facilitate myofacial release. Talking to your physician, chiropractor and/or osteopath is a great place to start the conversation. I would also suggest picking-up this GIANT book The Role Model. A friend of mine recently gifted it to me and its been really fun learning about how our bodies’ work along with techniques to relieve the constrictions.
I know this blog was longer than normal but our bodies are complicated and, considering what we ask of it, is worth a little more understanding and help to function at it’s peak. Hope you agree!
Have you found similar benefits with these tips? Is there anything else you would recommend that doesn’t come in pill form?