Maintaining healthy muscles is essential for not only strength, mobility, and balance, but overall health and well-being.  When we maintain good muscle health, it reduces our chances of injury as weak muscles are more easily strained from seemingly simple daily activities.  Most of our patients that come to see us for pain haven’t had a major accident or injury.  Most don’t know the cause of their pain but there are many patients that tell us that they hurt their back or neck with something as simple as bending forward to pick up a pencil, coughing, sitting all day at work, picking up their child or getting groceries out of the car.  Integrating some regular exercises can make a big difference in keeping our bodies free from pain.   

 Unfortunately, many of us don’t take the time to properly care for our muscles. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how you can improve your muscle health and keep your body in top shape – a great way to prioritize your health and feel good. 

 Exercise

 The first step to improving your muscle health is by getting enough exercise and moving your body. Regular physical activity helps to build and maintain muscle mass, as well as improve strength and flexibility. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, if possible. Start by focusing on cardio exercises like walking, running, and swimming. You can also try strength training exercises like weightlifting, pushups, and squats. Find ways to easily implement these exercises into your daily routine and you will see and feel the benefits of doing so.   I’m a big fan of HIIT workouts (High intensity interval training).  These are great to build flexibility, strength, and endurance.  There are many free videos on You Tube that are a good place to start.  Start at a level you feel comfortable with and don’t try to push yourself too hard the first month if you haven’t been doing much regular exercise the last few months.  You will feel your body getting stronger and more flexible and it will let you know when to start increasing the intensity.

 

Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet is what we’ve all been taught to believe.  The food pyramid has promoted grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds with very little meat.  Meat has been vilified while grains have been promoted as the most healthy foods for humans. Current research shows the countries that follow the “western diet” guidelines have become more obese and sick.  We are having more incidence of diabetes and heart attacks, despite eating less red meat.   

 What’s causing us to get sick and obese? 

 It’s the foods we are eating.  I used to be a big proponent of a low glycemic diet.  This is eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats like chicken and fish.  I avoided a lot of the refined grains and sugar to keep my blood sugar more stable.  While this diet helped me to remain thin, I just didn’t look healthy.  Recently I heard of the carnivore diet and thought to myself – “That’s ridiculous, who in their right mind would think that just eating meat would be healthy!”  I started looking up You Tube videos to see what these crazy people were talking about and how they justified eating only meat.  What struck me right off as I began my search was how many medical doctors – neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeons, family physicians, pediatricians, and other healthcare experts/researchers were promoting this way of eating.  Very quickly I discovered that the overwhelming majority of evidence actually suggests that our bodies were designed to run on meat as the preferred fuel source.  While the body is amazing and will try and adapt to what we find in our environment to eat, if we aren’t giving it the fuel it was designed to run on, the body begins to fall apart.

I was so impressed with my research that I decided to give it a try, despite being someone that loves fruits and vegetables.  Yes, it was hard to learn to just eat meat but as I recall from my youth, I didn’t love all the vegetables when I was a kid and had to learn to like them.  I have been eating this way now for a couple months, with some cheat days along the way for special family occasions, and I am feeling healthier, stronger, and my cravings for carbs have pretty much gone away.  I didn’t start this diet to lose weight but I found all my pants are now too big and I have more muscle tone – without doing any more exercises than I was already doing.  I have a lot of energy and feel great.  

I highly encourage everyone to at least listen to the research by these doctors and decided for yourself.  One of the main doctors that I have followed is Dr Anthony Chaffee, a neurosurgeon who interviews lots of other physicians and health experts to explain how and why the carnivore diet is not only healthy and safe but the best diet for humans.  The stories he and the other doctors share with their patients’ healing from all kinds of diseases is very inspiring.  It’s apparent that the carbohydrates we are eating are the underlying cause of most of our diseases and inflammation in the body.  When people return to eating more of a species specific diet for humans, their diseases go away.  Dr Chaffee explains that these are actually not diseases we are suffering from, but toxicities from the wrong foods being put into our bodies.  

Most everyone promoting this way of eating all report that they have lost weight and improved strength and energy – without adding any additional exercise.  This is because our bodies need enough high quality protein to build muscle.  When we increase the amount of protein in our diets, the body uses that to build your muscles.

How could this way of eating affect pain?  We have known for a long time that the western diet causes inflammation in our bodies.  Inflammation is the underlying contributory factor to pain.  When we are injured, if our bodies have too much inflammation, it will delay tissue healing.  The less inflammation in our bodies, the faster we can heal. Changing our diets to one that doesn’t cause inflammation will help speed up the healing process.  

Here is a lecture Dr Chaffee gave to explain the premise behind this way of eating.

 

 Rest

 Makle sure to get plenty of rest and take breaks from exercising when needed. Your body will tell you when it needs a break — all you have to do is listen! Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. During sleep, our bodies repair themselves from the wear and tear of our daily activities so it’s essential that we get enough rest each night (7-9 hours) so we can continue to perform at our very best. Without it, the next day you could feel drained, running on low energy, and not be able to stay productive or as active as you’d wish. Not only will getting enough sleep help you feel more energized during the day, but it will also give your muscles time to recover from workouts so they can be stronger when you wake up in the morning! 

 

Stretch 

 Finally, stretching regularly can help improve your muscle health by focusing on increasing flexibility and range of motion in the joints. This can reduce pain and stiffness associated with tight muscles or poor posture. This also helps us move better during our workouts when we’ve taken the time to stretch properly before engaging in physical activity. Stretching before workouts is an essential part of the process, not only for muscle health but to make sure you don’t accidentally injure yourself mid-workout. Aim to stretch at least 3 times a week after a workout or before bedtime when your body is warmest for best results! 

 

In conclusion, when you work these four tips into your daily routine – exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and stretching regularly – your muscles will thank you for prioritizing your health. Maintaining good muscle health is not only good for working out but keeps YOU healthy. Taking the time to prioritize yourself and your body is ALWAYS a good idea.