This is a guest post by MyBootcamp Program Director Billy Carroll
I’m not a doctor nor a professional athlete. I’m just your regular guy who participates in recreational athletics in much of my free time — and I’d prefer them to be pain-free. Like many goal oriented individuals I admit sometimes overextend myself; struggling to find the line between overtraining and simply not doing enough.
Today’s I want to focus specifically focus on tendinitis, which at its basic level is your body’s inflammatory response to overuse. Restricted to athletic applications? Absolutely not. A new client of mine is a painter who developed bad elbow tendinitis while painting a mural by hanging off a scaffold with his non dominant hand and painting with the other. Ouch! Can you imagine hanging by one arm during your entire work day? Needless to say daily life can lead to the sometimes debilitating nuisance I know all too well as tendinitis. Let’s look into some causes and ways to alleviate that pain before it becomes a bigger issue in your life.
My issues began in college where I had aspirations of playing music, spending hours playing scales each day (note that I was also eating bad dormitory food). My time between sets at the gym was mostly spent rubbing my upper forearm for relief. When the music faded after school my childhood love of martial arts returned and the constant gripping motion of my style of training brought back that lovely pain once again. Arriving home from class to wince at turning a door knob does not make for the perfect picture of health. One thing I quickly learned was that days that I hit the weight room and trained on the mats the condition flared up exponentially worse. By limiting my activities that put stress on the effected region I could somewhat limit the inflammatory response.
Takeaway? If you are suffering from chronic tendinitis consider the activities you participate in that effect that region of your body. Then consider limiting time periods and finding ways to reduce the impact. But what if you are the painter who needs to finish the mural? Let’s look further at what you are and are not putting in your body that could be helping or hurting your cause.
Water is nature’s lubricant. Just like gears and pistons need oil your body’s joints need water. If you are thirsty you’re already behind the eight ball. Stay hydrated with a simple plan – Glass of water upon waking. Keep a water bottle (preferably stainless steel for both environmental and health reasons) in your vehicle during the day to sip on while traveling. Fill it at night, place in the fridge, and grab it on your way out the door. Keep a glass on your desk at work and order a glass with each meal regardless of what else you are drinking. Finally a glass before bed as long as it won’t make you get up all night. This plan will accomplish two things — keep you hydrated with the added benefit that you will quickly find yourself replacing less healthy beverages at work (aka soda) with water.
This may be the toughest change for most people to buy into and make. How does what I put in my mouth affect my knee or my wrist? Your body breaks down carbohydrate food sources into glucose to use for energy. With fresh glucose is in the bloodstream your body releases insulin in response to help break it down. Excessive blood glucose (BGL) floating free in your body drives systematic inflammation. Your body then releases C-reactive protein in response to the inflammation which in turn puts you at an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
What foods cause the spikes? Processed grains such as bread, rice, and pasta, soda and anything with high fructose corn syrup (that includes your “energy” drinks), as well as your starchy white potatoes and their devilish BBQ flavored kettle cooked cousins in the Lays bag.
What foods help fight that inflammation? What you fought Mom on as a kid. Chances are if you are reading this blog you’ve already started to hear about the magical powers of vegetables. So what’s your inflammation advice? Replace your morning oatmeal or toast with a natural energy source like berries or an apple. Replace your Mac n cheese, helping of rice, or pasta Alfredo with a serving of broccoli, asparagus, or zucchini. In addition to these changes consider trying to increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids which have powerful anti-inflammatory responses – Cold water fish such as salmon, avocados, unsalted nuts and seeds for starters.
You don’t have to do this every meal – trying to do anything black or white with a diet is a recipe for stress and failure. Try it one meal a day for a week, then two as it may seem hard at first. Don’t make yourself feel guilty at your favorite Friday night eat out, try it at home. You’ll start to see Mom was right. A reduction in processed carbs and their associated havoc in my body has been the single most important factor in saying goodbye to that terrible ache in my elbows.
In summary, try incorporating the following natural inflammation busters into your daily routine:
- Rest – Avoid overuse and ice after stressful activities. Five minutes on, five minutes off for a half hour television show or reading a book. Once a day icing will do wonders.
- Hydrate – Keep that glass close my friend. Morning, day, and night.
- Eat real food – Replace one meal’s processed carbs with vegetables or low to mid glycemic fruits (berries, apples, bananas, etc.) Then try two. This will do wonders in other areas of your health as well.
Billy Carroll, MyBootcamp Program Director is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Primal aficionado and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. In his spare time, he fights fires for the DCFD. You can reach Bill directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Flickr (creative commons) by VERY URGENT Photography