Food for thought: Karmic inflammation

I just came back from a hill sprint session in Sydney Park. After 108 repetitions of a physical meditation that involves the whole body (knees included). After 2 days in a row of training, including back squats both days. There’s no way I could have done that when I was younger.

Paul McCarthy - SydneyPark (cropped)

I started having knee pain when I was a child. My detail-oriented mum noticed that I would get it every time I had tonsillitis, which happened a few times per year in the beginning and once every few weeks until I had my tonsils removed. Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t fix the knee pain, because the inflammation was still there. It became chronic and the pain got more intense over time to the point that some nights I would lay in bed crying, unable to sleep (and I’m not a crier).

My family had a few theories of what caused my pain. Some said it was me throwing myself on the ground and landing on my knees when I was a kid. But how could that become a bigger problem later on if I did it a handful of times when I was very young? Some said it was the taekwondo. But I only did it for a few years in my mid-late 20s.

In my opinion, what was the root of my inflammatory problems was my diet. I did a big change from a Westernised diet to a healthier diet (by conventional wisdom standards) in my mid 20s, which helped tackle some digestion issues and improve my body composition, but didn’t help with inflammation. Reflux got worse, knee pain got worse. It wasn’t until I removed the pro-inflammatory stuff out of my diet that my symptoms disappeared.

I’m not saying that everyone should eat what I eat, but I think it’s sensible to give it a shot. I’m not saying that diet is the only underlying cause of inflammation, but it’s quite possible that what you consistently choose to put in your body can have a big impact in your health. The cause and effect relationship might be difficult to see because your everyday behaviour is habitual, but it adds up. Small consistent habits of the past have shaped your present. It’s like karma. It is karma.

Finally, why hill sprints? Running on grass and uphill are great ways to reduce the load on the joints (see items #13 and 15 here). Additionally, the uneven terrain forces your body out of its comfort zone (learn more about this here).

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