“One cannot think well, love well and sleep well if one has not dined well.” –  Virginia Woolf

Food is essential for life. And for health and well-being. But can the food you eat – or don’t eat – cause muscle pain?

You Are What You Eat. And Then Some.

Some of the more obvious implications of a poor diet are obesity, some forms of diabetes, various skin conditions and general fatigue and body weakness. According to the website CleveleandClinic.org, there are a couple of additional problems that are more common than we might realize,

“Electrolyte imbalance: Electrolytes are minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium that are necessary for proper cell function, including normal muscle contraction. A shortage or imbalance of electrolytes due to strenuous physical activity or poor diet can slow muscle contractions and cause cramping and weakness.

Trichinosis: Caused by infection with the larvae of a species of worm called Trichinella, found in the meat of wild animals or undercooked meat such as pork. Initial symptoms include upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, and fever. Later symptoms include joint and muscle pain, headache, fever, chills, swelling of the face, and possibly heart and breathing problems.”

While most of us may never pick up Trichinosis, suffering from an electrolyte imbalance is a quite real possibility for athletes and other physically active people. The problem with these types of muscle pain is that it can be mistaken for overworking the muscles or strains from activity.

Another more recent phenomenon is the popularity of the Keto diet and its derivations. The essence of the diet is the low-carb intake. While there are scores of advocates who sing the praises of Keto, there are also quite unpleasant side effects that can be severe for some.

An insightful article at Healthline.com speaks to the heart of these side effects,

“Switching to a very low-carb diet is a major change, and your body may need time to adapt to this new way of eating. For some people, this transition period can be especially difficult. Signs of the keto flu may start popping up within the first few days of cutting back on carbs.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary from person to person. While some people may transition to a ketogenic diet without any side effects, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps”

As we’ve noted in other posts here, eating right and eating well is essential to staying healthy, being fit, and optimizing your body’s ability to move and function properly.

But the inverse can also be true.

Eating large amounts of inflammatory foods, for example, has been known to cause certain muscles to contract without relaxing. And, if this condition persists over a long period of time, the result can be painful back spasms and irritation.

Other major causes of back pain from your diet include too much caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, because these all increase cortisol levels. And excess cortisol in the body causes connective tissue to become inflamed, which causes pain.

The diet vices of caffeine, alcohol and sugar are not the only cortisol-promoting culprits. In addition, it has been shown that other stress-inducing, cortisol-promoting dietary habits can be skipping meals, consuming large portions of food at meals, or even sticking to a restrictive diet over a long period of time.

Even individuals who have primarily vegetarian diets, such as eating salads every day, can still find that the additional roughage can cause the digestive tract to go into action very quickly and triggers the muscular system, too.

Eating Well Can Promote a More Pain-Free Body

We see many physically active patients and athletes who suffer a wide range of pain and muscle issues. But the fact is that simply working out can cause muscle soreness and even lingering pain. While this is considered a normal result of stressing muscle tissue as well as ligaments and tendons, it is possible to reduce and even minimize that pain and discomfort.

An article at Active.com points at that the nutrients you consume, that is, the food you eat, can be instrumental in that process.

“By consuming the right balance of nutrients before, during, and immediately following workouts… you can minimize the amount of muscle protein degradation that is caused by workouts and maximize the rate of post-exercise muscle protein repair and rebuilding.

Carbohydrate, mainly in the form of muscle glycogen, is the primary fuel for moderate- to high-intensity exercise. But amino acids, supplied in part through the breakdown of muscle proteins, also provide some energy. The longer a workout or competition lasts, the less carbohydrate contributes and the more amino acids contribute to the body’s energy needs.

Athletes can minimize the number of muscle proteins that must be broken down to supply energy by beginning their workouts with more glycogen stored in their muscles.”

Because of these dynamics, it’s important for athletes and others who work out regularly and strenuously to maximize muscle glycogen stores before their workouts. This is best accomplished by eating a meal that contains large quantities of low-to moderate-glycemic carbohydrates about two to three hours before exercising.

Talk to Us Today About Your Pain Issues

During your initial consultation and assessment at Pain and Performance Solutions, we will learn all we can about your present pain and condition, along with any history of discomfort, as well as your current level activity.

Treating and relieving your pain starts once we understand where and how your pain started.

A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery.

Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.

You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.