It seems that every year I suffer from something that has to do with inflammation. Last time was iritis, now its costochondritis. Costochondritis is something that many people deal with, some only having to deal with it for a couple of weeks to a month and others, years. When I first was told I had costo my doctor, at the time, said that it would probably last 2 weeks to a month… 7 months later I was cursing this debilitating condition.
For those of you who do not know what costochondritis is it is inflammation of your cartilage between your sternum and your ribs…. ouch! So simple movements like turning your head, crossing your arms over to the opposite side, turning the wheel when driving, laying down and getting back up suddenly become extremely painful movements. In most cases, or so they say, costochondritis is caused by some impact to the chest of some sort, whether it being an accident or maybe you had a blow to the chest. In other cases, it can be caused by a virus but in a lot of instances it is caused by some unknown reason, which makes it that much more annoying.
As a personal trainer and someone who lives and breathes fitness, when a doctor tells me ‘you can’t workout’, its like telling me not to breath.. it ain’t happening. So being the stubborn person I am, I continue to work out with it. Two years ago was the first time I had it and it lasted 7 months, last summer it was barely there but this year its back and its pretty painful.
I wanted to write a post on this to let those of you who suffer from this and stumbled upon our site know how I deal with it. I did a lot of research on it and found a lot of online groups, hearing how depressed people are from this saddens me but I completely understand. How can you not get in a funk when you can’t do simple movements without regretting moving in the first place.
I still work out on a regular basis, on days where it is super painful, I will just do a light cardio or take a rest day. On days where its there but manageable, I take advantage of it and workout but I avoid any movement that utilizes my chest muscles (ie. push ups, twisting such as wood choppers). Everyday I take three types of supplements because the prescribed anti inflammatories do nothing for me other than give me brutal stomach pains. So I take:
1- 500mg bromelain in the morning during breakfast- bromelain is more effective on a full stomach than on an empty stomach.
Then I take another 1 before bed if the pain is pretty bad.
2- Omega 3 Oil- I find this helps a lot! I double the dose than what is listed on the bottle as we lack Omega 3 in our diets anyways. Omega 3 gives an anti-inflammatory response– avoid foods that contain Omega 6 when your inflammation is bad as this causes a pro-inflammatory response.
3- Webber Naturals Osteo Joint Ease with InflamEase in the morning
At night I rub deep cold extra strength on the spot where the pain initiates from- this helps ease it a lot!
Taking these has actually helped me more than taking the prescribed anti-inflammatories. Some things you should know is that Bromelain is naturally derived from pineapples, so if you are allergic to pineapple avoid it OR if you have a bleeding problem or are on blood thinners avoid it as well.
Another thing I found that helped is trying to keep good posture. When the pain is severe we tend to roll our shoulders inwards, protecting our problem but this is actually worsening the problem. Try setting your shoulders back and opening your chest. Try stretching your chest by doing the door way stretch, don’t push too hard, just go into the stretch as much as you can without hurting yourself more. Also, another thing that does work for me is getting my intercostal muscles stripped, Chad does this for me and it is super painful but the next day it feels better. This should only be done on days that the pain isn’t so bad, because if its done on really bad days it is unbearable.
So these are the things that has helped me, it doesn’t mean it will help everyone else who suffers from this but I know when you are in pain you are willing to try anything so its nice to hear what other people have done that seems to help.
If any of you have or are suffering from this as a chronic condition please feel free to let us know what has helped you.
Certified Personal Trainer
Full Body Developments Inc.
For any of you suffering from this debilitating condition, for me it is 100% my Omega 6 – Omega 3 ratio intake. I know it sounds stupid but there have been many instances where it has proven me correct each and every time.
For instance, yesterday I was working out and I noticed that I had a very sore spot on my chest and soon enough I realized exactly what it was.. is was the beginning of my costochondritis coming back to say “hi”. I was severely disappointed and upset. I instantly took my Bromelain and Omega 3 oil (2 tsp).
As I was getting ready for bed I was trying to think of reasons why this could possibly be coming back: weather change? any impact to my chest? too much chest exercises? diet?… oh my.. diet! The only thing I changed in my diet was that I found a bag of sunflower seeds in my pantry and for the past 3 days I have been having handfuls and handfuls of sunflower seeds and even adding them to my salads. And guess what? Sunflower seeds have both Omega 6 & 3 but they are EXTREMELY high in Omega 6!!
For me, my costochondritis comes into play when my Omega 6 is far too high and my Omega 3 is far too low. So to balance it out I try to consume foods that are high in Omega 3 and take my Omega 3 oil everyday.
If costochondritis can be ‘cured’ by taking 1-2 tsp of that nasty Omega 3 oil why wouldn’t you try it? Trust me, its been now 4 times that Omega 3 has helped me and it may just help you too!
Thought I would keep this updated because I know how painful this condition is. Oh and just by taking my Omega 3 oil last night I woke up pain free. As far as those sunflower seeds go, well, I think they will be left for my husband to eat. 😦