What Is Inflammation And Why Is It Ruining Your Workout?
Inflammation is a natural process of the body, its caused by white blood cells, and its normal function is to protect the body from damage caused by infection or wounds. It occurs when your blood vessels expand to allow more blood to flow to the affected area normally to fight infection or heal any tissue damage. Anyone involved in fitness, be it bodybuilders, power-lifters, strongmen or anyone in between knows all about this stickler – you injure your ankle or your wrist, it swells up, and you lose your range of motion.
It hurts, make’s walking around the office the next day feel like hell, and that’s your training limited for the next few days/weeks and your progress is going to get set back.
While you’re out for injury, your competition is making progress!
You’ve Probably Heard Of DOMs…
Normal inflammation is actually a necessary part of the recovery process caused by tearing your muscle fibres during intense workout – Delayed-onset muscle soreness (we all know DOMS) is the pain and soreness in your muscles once you’ve trained them in the gym, and occur more when you change up your workout style, or have had a long break. These DOMS normally subside between 24-72 hours after your workout. While a normal response, its still nothing you want – and if you’re training at the gym 5 or more days that week, it’s going to affect your workout.
Acute inflammation can be a little more serious though, it can affect your joints. This is due to the repetitive strain placed on your joints from the multiple reps, or from the sheer weight placed on them. It’s going to happen at some point, and you’re going to want to be ready to reduce its impact. The symptoms of acute inflammation are normally:
- Stiffness of the affected joints
The symptoms of acute inflammation are for the majority of the time mild – maybe you went a little harder at the gym today, who knows? Because of this inflammation can often times go undetected and if it goes on longer you’ll be at risk of it worsening, or it could even result in injury. We love pushing ourselves in the gym, but pushing too hard with intense workouts and no recovery periods can lead to you over-training your body and actually reverse the progress you’re making in terms of size and strength gains.
Medication, Medication… Medication?
Sure you can pop over to the convenience store or even go to your doctor, but either way its going to end up with an ice-pack and ibuprofen to reduce the swelling. Doctors regularly prescribe an array of anti-inflammatory medication, but these pills may not be the most ideal solution. Ibuprofen is classified as an Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), along with other over the counter drugs such as aspirin & naproxen.
Most NSAIDS work by blocking two major enzymes involved in inflammation. One is responsible for the regulation of your inflammatory response, while the other mainly assists in blood-clotting and for the protection of your stomach lining. The problem with NSAIDs is that this double blocking of both enzymes can result in a disruption to the stomach lining, which can cause serious gastric problems such as gastrointestinal bleeding and even ulcers.
Other side effects such as heartburn, dizziness, headaches, high blood pressure and liver & kidney problems can also arise from using NSAIDs, with the chance of an adverse reaction being over 25% in one report, and over 100,000 users hospitalised every year due to the reaction!
As an athlete, it’s time to retrain your mindset from “DOMS need Ibuprofen” if you want to break ahead and recover like the Pros!
Why CBD Over NSAIDs?
A natural alternative to prescription and OTC medicines is using CBD – and obviously we’re a fan at Nordic Botanics!
With its high tolerance within the body, low toxicity and extreme rarity of adverse reactions reported, CBD is a safe, natural and easy method of easing the symptoms commonly associated with chronic or acute inflammation. Unlike THC, CBD indirectly interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system and regulates the release of your body’s own cannabinoids, avoiding the psychoactive side effects you don’t want to be having on workout day!
Non-pure CBD extracts can also contain up to more than 400 trace compounds, with most studies on CBD focusing on pure extracts, but research suggest these peripheral phytocannabinoids may also play an effect within the body, and have their own therapeutic effects. Together these various compounds have been thought to work in synergy to combat inflammation.
This is why at Nordic Botanics, we combine multiple sources of Hemp extract to create a proprietary broad spectrum blend of cannabinoids, which we use in all our CBD products.
Terpenes are volatile compounds that quickly evaporate into the air (they have a very low boiling point). They have been known for their aromatherapy properties for many years and they are characterised by their fragrant smell – maybe you’re already familiar with the unique aroma of Hemp/Weed – that’s terpenes! There are around 200 terpenes found in the cannabis : sativa plant, while generally making up only one percent of extracts, and are recognised GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the USA FDA. While still not fully understood, recent research suggests that terpenses may have much more powerful physiological benefits than first thought, when combined with CBD and other cannabinoids.
Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper, oregano & other edible herbs, leafy green vegetables as well as many cannabis strains. It’s the reason you’re told leafy green vegetables are so healthy to eat! The qualities of this compound involve anti-inflammatory properties outside of NSAID route of enzyme inhibition, by binding to receptors in the endocannabinoid system all over the body. It has been shown to even improve gastrointestinal health, improve protection of the stomach and also increase the bioavailability of CBD.
Using CBD To Make Workout DOMs Suck Less
Taking CBD has been shown to indirectly interact with the receptors in your endocannabinoid system, increasing blood flow around your body and tissues, allowing compounds such as oxygen and nitrogen to help repair and feed your muscles. While CBD can help with all kinds of inflammation, its especially effective against muscle systems and the digestive system, both key aspects in your fitness. Remember a good diet and gut health is essential for muscle growth and repair just as much if not more so than training!
CBD also removes the risk of overdose associated with using other anti-inflammation medication such as ibuprofen & aspirin, as CBD is incredibly non-toxic with few adverse reactions reported – and as such it is nearly impossible to overdose on CBD .
Recent studies have shown CBD reducing inflammation and decreasing the damage done on intestinal samples from humans suffering from Ulcerative Colitis, an auto-immune disease similar to Crohn’s disease that results in the inflammation of the intestine.
Another study in 2016 showed that CBD was able to significantly reduce joint swelling caused by arthritis in rats, and as a result the tests showed reduced spontaneous pain and reduced synovial fluid (the lubrication in your joints) thickening, and the benefits increased along with the dose. These results means CBD could have therapeutic potential for relief of inflammation caused by arthritis.
Here at Nordic Botanics we’ve heard from professional athletes using our products that the anti-inflammatory qualities of our product prove incredibly beneficial for maximising workouts, removing those pesky DOMS and reducing the incidence and recovery time of any acute inflammatory injuries.
How Can You Minimise The Impact Of Inflammation
Are you suffering with excessive inflammation? It happens to everyone and is almost par-for-the-course when pushing hard in training, so here are some additional tips to help you avoid & recover from inflammation and injury:
Follow a progressive training program. Have you just started back at the gym? Or are you trying a new routine? The best advice to avoid injuring yourself is to start slow and light and gradually increase the difficulty and perceived exertion of your workouts. This goes for experienced athletes too! This allows your body to slowly accustom to the new stresses on your body and removes the risk of over-training and overly-stressing your body. (If you want to know more in-depth about the benefits about this stuff read here)
Allow adequate recovery time in your workouts: Everyone recovers at different rates, however knowing your body and giving yourself adequate recovery time is essential. A good general rule of thumb is to leave at least 48 hours between re-working a muscle group.
You are what you eat – Eat a diet that fights inflammation. We don’t need to tell you to eat your veggies to be big and strong, that’s Popeye’s shtick. But being mindful of certain foods that are proven to prevent and reduce the effects of inflammation can never hurt. Spices like ginger & turmeric, fruits like apples and tomatoes, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli & kale, whole grains and tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts & pistachios) have all been shown in research to have anti-inflammatory properties in the body, and are things that should be regularly included in your balanced diet to help maintain a healthy injury-free body.
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