Inflammation may help heal muscles

After a gym session, you may be tempted to pop an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to ward off soreness. But post-workout inflammation might be a good thing: Researchers from Brigham Young University found that after exercise, pro-inflammatory T cells infiltrate damaged muscle fibers, possibly to help repair the tissue; after a repeat round of exercise, inflammation increases.

“One of our theories is that this inflammation is a healthy process your body uses to heal muscles,” says senior author Robert Hyldahl, PhD, assistant professor of exercise sciences. What’s more, “inflammation and postexercise soreness didn’t actually seem to be linked.” In fact, folks experienced less soreness after their second round of exercise, when inflammation was higher. Try easing aches with ice or moist heat instead of meds.

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