This week while teaching I spoke with at least 6 people who were suffering from some sort of joint pain. Whether it be knee, back, hip neck or shoulder pain, so many of us suffer from it. It affects our golf game, gardening, workouts and can be just plain annoying to live with. So what can we do about it?
One of the first things we should do to improve joint health or a chronic condition like osteoarthritis is to reduce our inflammation. When you think of inflammation you may think of a sprained ankle, or a post surgical procedure where there is visible swelling and heat and typically treat with ice and an Advil, but inflammation goes deeper than that. It is like an “internal fire” which can affect every organ in your body and feeds itself on stress, poor diet, and lifestyle factors. (And these are all things that we can take control of and reduce our inflammation with).
Here are 6 simple steps we can take to keep inflammation from taking over- how about checking in with yourself and giving one a try!
1. Drink enough water to keep every cell working properly. About half your body weight in ounces daily is a good start. More if you are very active or the weather is hot or humid.
2. Take a high quality, mercury free fish oil daily. Approximately 3-4 gms.
3. Cut the sugar and completely eliminate diet soda, diet drinks and artificial sweeteners. It’s not only sugar that feeds inflammation. These fake sugars have been shown to increase insulin response and trigger inflammation in everything from your brain to your joints. Foods containing simple sugars need to go: white flour, crackers, processed foods and many extras such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and flavored yogurts. Read your labels carefully and use a small amount of unpasturized local honey if you need to sweeten something up.
4. Supplement with Turmeric and ginger. These age old spices (can also be bought in capsule form) have been used for centuries to quell the fires of pain and inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that groups of people using Turmeric for 4 weeks felt the same relief as those using ibuprofen. (why take drugs with horrible side effects when you can use nature to heal?)
5. Learn to love movement. While too much exercise increases the inflammatory response, our bodies require movement. Yoga, circuit training, weight lifting, or anything that gets your heart, lungs and body working to shuttle out the bad and keep every system active. Feeling sore after a workout? Drink more water, and replenish the body immediately after an intense workout with a smoothie containing protein and a small bit of simple carbs.
6. Seek out a qualified Massage Therapist. On a cellular level massage works to reduce inflammation, promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle and will help reduce chronic pain and improve joint mobility.
Here is one of my favorite post workout anti-inflammatory smoothies: COCONUT PEACH TURMERIC SMOOTHIE
By learning about foods that can decrease inflammation and following an anti inflammatory diet, joint and bone pain caused by swelling can be reduced. Movement, adequate water, and seeking out a qualified massage therapist can further aid in minimizing the discomfort your joints give you and get you back to doing the activities you love. Remember, its the small, consistent changes that can make a big difference and positive impact on your life!