When people think about inflammation, they typically think of a fever, muscle or joint pain. That’s why inflammation is often perceived as something bad that damages your body and negatively impacts your health. Inflammation is an essential response of your immune system that helps your body fight an injury or illness. Without that vital process, your body wouldn’t be able to heal itself. In essence, there are good and bad variants of this biological response. People who embrace intentional and purposeful movement into their days will be all too familiar with the self-inflicted variant of this response. In this piece, we’ll explore both good and bad types of inflammation and what you can do to manage both.

Defining Inflammation

Inflammation is a process that protects the body from an infection or helps it heal after any sort of tissue damage. Your body triggers it when something harmful like bacteria or toxins damage your cells. For those of you who pursue physical improvements, you’ll be all too familiar with the inflammation that accompanies the ‘intentional’ tissue damage we inflict in order to induce positive adaptation. In the presence of this type of foreign body, a signal is sent to your immune system, which activates an immune response to fight off the foreign invader or heal an injury. Your immune system stimulates the production of white blood cells in the affected area, thus causing inflammation to contain and combat the infection.

What Causes Inflammation?

The most common causes of inflammation include external injuries and pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If you suffer a joint injury, for instance, or any kind of tissue damage, such as cuts and bruises, your body triggers inflammation in the localised area to help it heal. The same goes for pathogens that enter your body and cause an infection or illness. Certain medications can also cause inflammation, as well as autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Other causes include chronic stress, lack of physical activity, insufficient sleep, smoking, excessive alcohol, and certain inflammatory foods. Foods that are typically refined and, or processed.

What Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?

There are many different symptoms of inflammation, depending on what causes it. That means you may not experience all of them when your body is fighting a foreign pathogen or trying to heal itself after an injury. The most common symptoms of inflammation include:
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Loss of function
  • Appetite loss

Types of Inflammation

There are two types of inflammation:
  • Acute
  • Chronic
Acute inflammation is a short-term process that your body activates when you suffer an injury, tissue damage or get a virus infection. It typically occurs within minutes or hours resulting in pain, redness, swelling, warmth, and loss of function. It’s a good sign that your body is defending itself and healing its cells. Depending on the cause, it can last for less than a day to several days or even a few weeks. Chronic inflammation is a long-term process that can last for months or even years. It can occur due to an autoimmune disorder or untreated acute inflammation. You can recognise chronic inflammation by the following symptoms:
  • Continuous fatigue
  • Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with your gastrointestinal tract

Negative Effects of Inflammation

As you’ve learned by now, acute inflammation is a good thing because it helps your body heal itself. But if it persists and you don’t deal with it properly, it may lead to serious health problems. Unchecked inflammation can lead to diabetes, heart disease, bronchitis, arthritis, meningitis, Crohn’s disease (a type of IBD), obesity, cancer, and many other serious health conditions. That’s why it’s important to treat inflammation as soon as you notice the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are some of the most common and immediate weapons you can use to relieve the symptoms and ensure your body is strong enough to recover. However, make sure you always visit a doctor first. Based on your symptoms, they will make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the right medication.

How to Prevent It

Preventing inflammation means keeping your immune system strong. A robust immune system can ward off the common cold or flu and quickly fight off pathogens. To prevent inflammation effectively, you should follow healthy lifestyle habits. The most important has to do with your diet. Minimise processed and refined foods, and enrich your diet with healthy, anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients. Typically the same foods someone would suggest who is looking to lower or manage caloric intake. Physical activity is crucial for preventing and reducing inflammation, so make time to exercise regularly. But you don’t have to go to the gym to get moving. Taking walks, riding a bike, and even dancing counts as exercise as well. Circulation and the encouragement of circulation is a method that's been used in elite sport for decades to reduce, particularly self-inflicted-inflammation, faster. Massage, vibration treatments, contrast (heat and cold), all methods that encourage blood flow and recovery. Another way to prevent inflammation is to make sure you get a good night’s rest every day. Insufficient sleep can weaken your immune system and trigger tissue-damaging inflammation. Getting enough high-quality sleep can strengthen it and reduce the risk of various health issues. Reducing stress, especially the chronic type, is also very important. There are many ways to reduce stress, such as meditation, yoga, physical activity, and anything else that relaxes you, such as a hobby. Last but not least, kicking unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking can strengthen your body and improve your overall health.


Everyone experiences inflammation in the body at some point in their life. For those pursuing physiological excellence, it may be something self-inflicted and something you experience daily. Act on it whatever the cause may be. Proactively treat it, improve circulation, use methods to minimise the stuff that's out of much of your control. Maintain hygienic practices, eat a nutrient-dense diet, hydrate and for the stuff you intentionally impose, implement recovery practices into your routine.