The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

Inflammation is not all bad – in fact it’s the body’s way of naturally protecting itself and enabling the healing process to begin. It’s when inflammation persists and becomes chronic that it can cause issues. Inflammation can be managed quite easily by following simple dietary requirements and lifestyle changes such as sleeping patterns.

A common practice for reducing or treating inflammation is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While NSAIDs (e.g. Advil or Aleve) can be useful in the acute stage of injury, prolonged use can cause a variety of gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, stomach pain, ulcers and bleeding from the stomach. Nonprescription NSAIDs should not be taken for longer than 10 days without talking to your physician first.

An excess of inflammation means your body hasn’t had enough time to repair itself. If an athlete begins training again before the healing process is complete, the joints and muscles won’t be at 100% and the risk of injury increases. 

Some nutrients and foods can help reduce or prevent inflammation:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids (mackerel, sardines, salmon, and wild game meats are all good food sources)
  • Blueberries, red peppers, tomatoes and tart cherry juice
  • Tumeric (curcumin), ginger and cayenne
  • Dark and leafy vegetables
  • Quercetin – belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that give many fruits, flowers, and vegetables their color. It can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep is essential in inflammation management and injury recovery. Disrupted sleep and not enough sleeping hours (less than seven hours a night) is associated with changes in the levels of specific cytokines that are important in regulating inflammation. The loss of sleep, even for a single night can have a negative effect on the body’s ability to heal itself. Good sleeping practices include: no TV in bed, no cell phones and a complete black out of light to ensure quality sleep.

While a proper diet and adequate sleep are important factors for reducing inflammation another option would be to reduce stress levels by performing low impact exercises such as yoga or walking and treating yourself to a massage. 

     References from the SIRC Collection:

    1. A. S. BUT ISN’T INFLAMMATION GOOD?. Bicycling. July 2012;53(6):78.
    2. Bacchus H. MANAGING PAIN, INFLAMMATION AND TISSUE REPAIR FOR ATHLETES THROUGH SIMPLE DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS. Sportex Dynamics. October 2012;(34):7-9. 
    3. Exercise Reduces Inflammation Long-Term. IDEA Fitness Journal. November 2012;9(10):13.
    4. Lofshult D. inflammation & vitamins D & K. IDEA Fitness Journal. November 2008;5(10):58.
    5. Marchewka R. INFLAME ON MORE. Volleyball. August 2013;24(7):22-23.
    6. SALEEBY J. INFLAMMATION. American Fitness. January 2011;29(1):60-61.
    7. Sleep Duration and Biomarkers of Inflammation. Sleep, Feb 1, 2009
    8. Vitamin K May Fight Inflammation Linked to Chronic Diseases. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. March 2008;26(1):1-2.