Chronic and persistent inflammation can take a toll on your body and impact your hike by causing decreased energy and endurance, slower recovery, stiffness, joint aches and pains, brain fog, GI issues and more. Not fun when you’re out to enjoy nature! This post will cover how inflammation affects your backpacking trip, common sources, and what you can do to prevent it and have a more enjoyable hike.
So, what is inflammation?
It’s a critical component of your immune system which occurs when the body is injured or under threat.
In the short term, inflammation is great because it can help the body protect itself and heal. The problem occurs when this response gets stuck in the “on” position because the body is under low level stress that doesn’t go away. This is what’s referred to as chronic inflammation and is the focus of this post.
It shows up differently for everyone, but here are a few of the impacts it can have on you as a backpacker:
-decreased energy and endurance
-decreased immune function
-slower wound healing
-increased susceptibility to illness
-persistent joint aches and stiffness
-brain fog & inability to navigate or accurately assess backcountry risk
Dealing with any or all of the above can put a damper on your time in the backcountry. Consider the following sources of inflammation and which ones might be at play in your life.
Sources of inflammation
-stress (physical, chemical, psychological)
-guilt, shame around food & body
-social media addiction
-lack of a higher purpose
Steps you can take to optimize performance
The sources directly inform the steps you can take to mitigate systemic inflammation. Nourish your body with good food, prioritize sleep, manage stress, reduce toxin exposure from cleaning products and personal care products, spend time with loved ones, look for the positive, and most of all – love and respect the body you’re in.