C.S.I. the Silent Killer
It is becoming more and more apparent in the scientific community that systemic inflammation lies at the root of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and many other immune disorders. Increased systemic inflammation may also increase the aging process.
Inflammation is a normal defense mechanism produced by the body that protects us against microbial attacks, externally and internally produced toxins, as well as damaged and diseased cells and tissues. You’ve probably experienced the redness, swelling, pain, and increased heat of an inflammatory response to a bee sting or a twisted ankle. While it is natural, the inflammatory chemicals that are released in these situations should only be in our blood stream for a short amount of time before our body returns to its pre inflammatory state. The problem arises when our body’s symptoms might be reduced to an unnoticeable level but the inflammation is still occurring under the radar at a level that we can’t detect. This is called Chronic Systemic Inflammation (CSI) and it’s characterized by low-grade but pervasive inflammation with the potential to cause widespread damage to a range of different tissue types and the endothelial lining of arteries. The effects of CSI are not localized and have the potential to disrupt systems throughout the body, including the nervous and endocrine systems. Chronic CSI can be caused by improper diet, high levels of stress, lack of sleep, obesity, and consistent joint and tissue stress to name a few. For the purpose of this article we will focus more on the consistent joint and tissue stress and discuss diet and lifestyle implications in my next article.
“My back aches constantly.” “This knee has bothered me for years.” “My neck is always sore.” Sound familiar? These are just some of the physical ailments that are heard in daily conversation and that’s not to mention that a lot of people have multiple ailments that they will report to people. Concoctions of Advil, heat, good old fashioned working through the pain, or flat avoiding movement all together are often the ways that these little aches are combated. An important note: the body doesn’t differentiate between types of inflammation. Inflammation is inflammation and if we are in constant elevation of inflammation than we have the potential to affect a wide variety of systems. The last thing we want to do is exercise to be healthy and at the same time potentially be causing low levels of inflammation to be constantly present in our body. So it’s important that we begin to educate ourselves on how to do resistance training and aerobic exercises in a manner that won’t elevate our inflammatory levels. How do we do this? Here are a few things…
First, we want to be balanced. We want each of our joints to be symmetrical to the other in their ability to move. Your legs should be able to turn in and out the same, your spine should be able to rotate both directions the same, and your shoulders should be able to flex the same on both sides, to name a few. If there is a discrepancy between these motions there is a potential that our muscular system isn’t working properly and we could have a low level inflammatory response happening. At least part of your regular resistance training program should be geared toward doing corrective exercise to make the working parts of our body as symmetrical as possible to allow for optimal functionality and decrease potential inflammation.
Second, we need to use good form. Poor technique is a major contributing factor to injuries and inflammation in the weight room. Going to fast, excessive range of motion, and poor programming can all lead to injuries you can feel and even to some you might not, but there is a potential that the inflammatory response has started and you don’t even know it yet. Having the proper exercise plan, controlling tempo and using proper range of motion on each exercise will give you maximum benefit with the lowest risk for injury.
Third, limit excessive exercise. More is not always better. Allow your body to recover, it’s during the recovery phase that our tissue is allowed to regenerate and grow. If we are constantly trying to repair tissues then there is a good chance we won’t make the progress we want and we may be staying in an inflammatory state. Also, we don’t need to take every workout to the extreme. Learn to moderate your level of intensity from low to medium to high this way your body isn’t always being pushed to the extreme and appropriate recovery is allowed.
It’s important to remember that every system in your body is connected; there are absolutely no independent parts. So if you are suffering from chronic joint inflammation or are doing exercises that could be leading to potential joint and tissue inflammation you are putting every other system in your body in a compromised state. These other systems cannot operate as efficiently if there is constant stress in the body for whatever reason. It’s absolutely imperative that we do everything in our power to reverse and prevent chronic inflammation if we want to lead long, healthy, pain free lives. Any Ortho-Kinetics® trainer will be happy to assist you with any questions about your exercise program. Take advantage of that.
Lead Ortho-Kinetics® Trainer