The holiday season is in full swing. Synonymous with indulgences and schedule changes of all types, this time of year often gives way to rich foods, sugary desserts, alcohol, late nights, stress of giving gifts, travel, cold weather, you name it. Often, the time of year that spans between Halloween and New Years, can easily interfere with training, throwing your body off balance. But, more importantly, the effects of the season can quickly lead to uncomfortable inflammation.
Luckily, you can do a few things to help minimize inflammation while still enjoying the holidays. So, to help you soar through this season with merriment and cheer, we put together a list of inflammation hacks for runners! Great for the holidays, also wonderful year-round.
What is Inflammation?
Before diving into the hacks, let’s quickly talk about inflammation and what causes it.
As stated in an article from Healthline, “Inflammation happens in everyone, whether you’re aware of it or not. Your immune system creates inflammation to protect the body from infection, injury, or disease.”
Therefore, inflammation is your body's way of telling you it is trying to heal itself. However, that said, the symptoms are not at all pleasurable.
Further, according to Healthline, “the specific symptoms you have depend on where in your body the inflammation is and what’s causing it.” Such symptoms can be anything from aches, pain, swelling, heat, fatigue, weight gain, and more.
During the holidays many runners complain of inflammation in the form of a bloated stomach and sore legs or feet. This is because your body is not used to the heavy holiday diet as well as needs to adjust to a new running schedule, whether it’s for running the annual marathon or accounting for missed training times.
With that in mind, it is wise to be aware of inflammation and help soothe it during the holiday season.
Now, read on for the much awaited hacks that will help you feel your best even while home for the holidays.
While this may sound like a literal pain - especially with an achy, stuffed body - the truth is, moving will help “move” inflammation along. This is because when your muscles move, they release a small amount of a protein that is known to increase the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. Also, when it comes to inflammation, the more your blood moves, the better.
So, although you are not feeling amazing, get up and get going. Even if it’s just a short 20-minute walk, exercise whenever and however you can.
Drink Lots of Water
Oh the joy of flushing your body. When you consume water, your body naturally uses it to cleanse itself of irritants and toxins -- the stuff that causes inflammation.
We suggest drinking as much water as you can during the holidays. Try having a glass in between alcoholic beverages. Opt for a glass before eating meals and then, drink a glass during and after. Last but not least, wake up and enjoy a glass of water with lemon.
Soak in a Bath
Catching some “me time” in the tub during the holidays is not just great for your sanity, it is also amazing for inflammation.
Just like moving your body, the heat of the water will get your blood flowing and work to reduce the built-up issues that are causing inflammation in the first place.
Want to supercharge your bath? Try adding epsom salt or some herbal mixtures, such as lemon slices, dried roses, or lavender. These can help relax muscles and reduce any tension leading to better blood flow.
Eat Lots of Vegetables and Fruits
Yes, while mashed potatoes, gravy, pie, cookies, and more are the most appealing things at a holiday table, filling up on vegetables and fruits first can do worlds of good for inflammation.
Foods like leafy greens and berries -- anything high in fiber and antioxidants -- are especially good for helping your muscles and tendons heal. The same goes for sweet potatoes, lemon, bone broth, fish, nuts, and dark chocolate.
Essentially, when you eat these foods, the body becomes filled with essential vitamins and minerals that will help the immune system fight inflammation and flush. Now, remember, before reaching for the fatty, processed stuff, overload your plate with the good stuff first, then nibble on the treats.
Get a Massage
We are particularly big fans of this one. Again, just like soaking in the tub, getting a massage is not just good for your mental health during the holidays, but your body too.
From releasing stress hormones and tension that lead to inflammation to helping muscles relax, improving blood flow, and flushing, massage is all around good for you. Just remember, drink plenty of water afterward!
Wear Compression Gear
When it comes to controlling inflammation, compression gear, especially socks, are a holiday must-have.
Why is that? Well it’s actually rather simple. Whether you are sitting in a car for a long time, training in new weather climates, unable to run your normal route, more often than not, inflammation is caused by a change in habits that lead to a change in blood flow.
Fortunately, compression gear is designed to increase your blood flow, reducing inflammation. Sounds like a dream come true? It is.
Holiday Inflammation Gifts For Runners
With all our hacks said and done, let us leave you with this. Whether you are looking to spoil yourself or the runner in your life, give the gift of amazing, fun-loving compression socks this holiday season. We promise they are a gift that keeps on giving.