By Michael A. Robles
The subject of inflammation within the exercise industry is anything but straightforward. Inflammation is an umbrella subject that can be broken down in intricate detail by branching off towards other tracks but this focus is to keep the simplicity of the subject involving exercise. If anything, the relationship with inflammation and exercise is a tricky one and if not properly monitored, the inflammation can become chronic and cause further damage to the connective tissue. As a paramedic, the only type of inflammation we are mainly trained to recognize in the field is the systemic inflammation called sepsis. Sepsis is an extreme inflammatory response that may be life-threatening but takes quite a bit of time to develop. This particular post involving inflammation will be strictly with exercise.
One must discern the goal at hand whether the inflammation is acute stress due to exercise or chronic that may lead to systemic inflammation if not properly maintained. This may be from an injury that hasn’t healed completely or muscles that not able to tolerate a certain level of applied force due to exercise or some strenuous activity. That being mentioned, exercise is known to reduce inflammation, but may also increase it if not appropriately managed. Depending on the amount and timing of the exercise currently being focused, this increase of inflammation may be a good thing or a bad thing.
When exercise is a good thing for reducing inflammation, anyone in the exercise industry should mention to their client what inflammation does to the connective tissue. The whole point of the exercise is to create this low-grade inflammatory response while our body is continuing to bring itself back into homeostasis. The only reason the immune system initiates an inflammatory response is that there’s been damaged tissue and the switch to try to self-repair is initiated. This is how the body gets stronger through micro progression by rebuilding the damaged tissue to deal with future demands of the neuromuscular system. The body needs to be stimulated thru a strategic challenge of load thru exercise in order for it to adapt to the goal at hand. There are numerous studies that will claim the overall generality of inflammation and how it can be helpful to the body to maintain homeostasis.
The body needs to be stimulated thru a strategic challenge of load via exercise in order for it to adapt to the goal at hand.
When exercise is a bad thing, we are known to mask the problem with anti-inflammatories or just even ignoring it. Some continue with the pain or discomfort without thinking about the possible future outcome will lead to. This may lead to an injury which holds us back from any sort of habitual daily function. For others, this may create a systemic response of inflammation which is vital to the organs. This chronic inflammation can be due to numerous reasons such as getting little rest, poor nutrition, a stressful lifestyle, etc. Chronic inflammation can cause some serious problems if not identified since the body is constantly trying to repair itself with no results. Several of these symptoms will start to show up such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Body aches
Some people have more of their share when it comes to these symptoms with many possible explanations and underlying causes. The possible influence of chronic systemic inflammation may be a stubborn neuromuscular system. There are some in the field that will banter the common suggestion of arthritis, but that’s a rare factor until later in life unless it’s a genetic disorder such as RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). There are some medications that may either cause an instant hypersensitivity towards an individual with chronic inflammation but that has its own diagnostic process of its own. Either the individual already has a known history of it or they find out the hard way, which is one we would all prefer not to run into. This is one of many reasons to have a detailed consult before proceeding with an assessment with a client.
The possible influence of chronic systemic inflammation may be a stubborn neuromuscular system.
The bad news is we can’t get rid of inflammation even if we tried. This is the inevitable cost of having an immune system. Our bodies are made up of complex systems underlying other systems and this is just one that can be toxic towards one’s health, or extremely valuable with the right tools being utilized to monitor it. The purpose of this specific system has to juggle the pros and cons in order to maintain an optimized potent defense system. This may fluctuate throughout the day which way the inflammatory response is heading.
What can we do to make sure inflammation is working in our benefit with exercise?
Resistance training with the proper dose, strategic challenge with the available functionality of the body will give the desired outcome in exercise. Resistance training has been shown to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome. This really is the closest thing to the fountain of youth or miracle drug as long as the extremes are avoided. Too much or too little might create a problem.
Muscle Activation Techniques may be able to help decrease any sort of inflammation that is causing muscle inhibition. Muscle inhibition is one of the primary concerns when it comes to joint instability but also a variable that can easily be taken care of with MAT. MAT practitioners are biomechanical and neuromuscular system experts which makes the vital purpose of the effects show promising results with decreasing inflammation.
There are many other factors such as proper nutrition, adequate sleep, alleviating poor habits, etc. These variables must be consistent with each other to maintain overall good health and keep the inflammation to a minimum with the comparison of daily activity. The real question is picking your poison between the maintenance of local vs. systemic inflammatory response and knowing how to maintain its function.