Inflammation And Why It Is Ruining Your Gains (with Infographic)

What is inflammation anyway and why does it happen?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to cellular trauma or pathogens. It initiates the healing and recovery processes, and it is absolutely crucial for building muscle mass.

How it works in simple words:

  1. Exercising (stretching and contracting muscles) causes microtrauma tears in muscle tissue that cannot be seen or felt. (1)
  2. Muscle tissue that has been torn is found by the immune system and triggers the inflammatory response. (2)
  3. The inflammatory response stimulates the immune system to come clean up the damaged cells, prevent infection, and prepare the body to return to homeostasis. This part of the process can take 24-48 hours. (3)
  4. This inflammatory response triggers the release of myokines, which are responsible for the anti-inflammatory response, that are responsible for promoting the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and aiding in the anti-inflammatory response. This stimulates new tissue development that has been studied to last up to 72 hours following exercise. (4)
  5. The body responds to this whole event by overcompensating, replacing the damaged tissue and adding more, so that the risk of repeat damage is reduced. Resulting in more muscle mass than was there previously.


DOMS may indicate overtraining

Most microtrauma cause a low level of inflammation that cannot be seen or felt. These injuries can arise in muscle, ligament, vertebrae, and discs. Repetitive microtrauma which are not allowed time to heal can result in the development of more serious conditions. (5)

Problems in this process can result in symptoms such as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you experience muscle soreness 24-48 hours after exercise, you should consider looking into natural ways of decreasing inflammation in your body and evaluating your training program to be less intensive.


Progressive overload training is your friend

This process is also the reason why the progressive overload principle is so effective in strength training. With progressive overload, which most personal trainers should be using with their clients, you should rarely experience DOMS but instead should be creating just enough microtrauma that can be repaired fully before the next training session and show overcompensation before the next progression. (6)

Progressive overload principle ensures your body has enough time to adapt to training without succumbing to injury through overtraining. Your friends who suffer from "Leg Day" for a week should especially take this into account.


What you can do to decrease inflammation:

  1. Eat or drink antioxidant rich foods
  2. Eat or drink anti-inflammatory foods
  3. Sleep and rest more than usual
  4. Rehydrate and drink more water
  5. Balance your omega fatty acids

What are your favourite ways to decrease inflammation?


Sources:

1 (^ MacIntyre, Donna L.; Sorichter, Stephan; Mair, Johannes; McKenzie, Donald C.; Berg, Aloys (11 March 2001). "Markers of inflammation and myofibrillar proteins following eccentric exercise in humans". European Journal of Applied Physiology 84 (3): 180–186. doi:10.1007/s004210170002. PMID 11320633.)

2   (^ MacIntyre, Donna L.; Sorichter, Stephan; Mair, Johannes; McKenzie, Donald C.; Berg, Aloys (11 March 2001). "Markers of inflammation and myofibrillar proteins following eccentric exercise in humans". European Journal of Applied Physiology 84 (3): 180–186. doi:10.1007/s004210170002. PMID 11320633.)

3 (^ MacIntyre, Donna L.; Sorichter, Stephan; Mair, Johannes; McKenzie, Donald C.; Berg, Aloys (11 March 2001). "Markers of inflammation and myofibrillar proteins following eccentric exercise in humans". European Journal of Applied Physiology 84 (3): 180–186. doi:10.1007/s004210170002. PMID 11320633.)

4  (^ Miller B.F., Olesen J.L., Hansen M. et al. (2005) Coordinated collagen and muscle protein synthesis in human patella tendon and quadriceps muscle after exercise. J Physiol, 567, 1021-1033.)

5 ^ Thomas, Clayton L., M.D., M.P.H. (1993). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edition 18. F.A. Davis. p. 1212. ISBN 0-8036-0194-8.

6  (^ a b American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 34(2):364-80, 2002 Feb, PMID 11828249.)