Approximately one-third of all adults experience some type of joint pain regularly (1). For most, this pain occurs in the lower back area, as well as the knees, hips, shoulders, and ankles – the parts of the body used most frequently for repetitive movements.
Joint pain and joint issues, like arthritis are common, but there are seven things you can do to prevent premature aging and decay of your joints and support their overall health.
The first and perhaps the most essential thing you can do to support the health of your joints is to move your body. In fact, research has shown that movement or exercise is the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain in patients with osteoarthritis (2). Movement and exercise help support the natural lubrication of your joints and increase their flexibility. They also help to prevent joint decay and aging.
For the most positive results, focus on low impact movement and exercise, like yoga, pilates, swimming, and biking. Avoid exercising on the pavement and limit sports that are hard on the joints, like tennis, basketball, and running. In general, I recommend incorporating 20-30 minutes of low impact movement each day. A gentle walk at the end of the day is a great way to support your joint health.
Maintaining A Healthy Weight
Excess body fat stresses your joints. Research has shown that when walking across a flat surface, the force on your knees is 1½ times your body weight. As your weight increases, so does the impact on your joints. The risk of experiencing joint pain and developing arthritis also increases (3), so maintaining a healthy body weight is essential to reducing the wear and tear of your joints.
Similarly, being underweight or not having enough muscle mass can adversely affect joint health. The key here is finding the best weight for your body and developing the muscle mass needed to support your joints as well as the connected ligaments and tendons.
Most likely you’ve heard that you should drink 6-8 glasses of water each day to avoid fatigue, dry skin, and headaches, but staying hydrated is also beneficial when it comes to joint health. Your cartilage is composed of up to seventy percent water (4) and staying hydrated helps to maintain its lubrication, so your joints can move freely.
Reduce Refined Sugar Consumption
Foods that are high in sugar create an acidic environment inside your body, which contributes to inflammation. This inflammation can cause premature aging and decay of your joints. Decreasing your consumption of refined sugar and alcohol can help prevent osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and general joint pain and inflammation.
Stretching Before and After Exercise
Stretching before movement or exercise helps to increase blood flow to your joints and muscles, preparing the body for more dynamic movement. It is an essential part of any physical activity but is of particular benefit to individuals with arthritis as it lubricates the joints and helps enhance and maintain range of motion (5). Similarly, stretching after exercise helps to maintain flexibility. It may also help reduce joint pain and swelling. Set aside at least 5 minutes before and after your low-impact workout to move your spine, move through a few gentle yoga poses, or flex, extend and rotate your joints.
We are exposed to a myriad of toxins every day. Our bodies absorb these toxins and it’s very common for them to be stored in your joints. Fortunately, the body naturally detoxifies itself. You can support the process, however, by limiting your exposure to toxins, getting occasional colonics, and spending time in a sauna regularly.
Aside from exercise, one of the best things you can do to reduce joint pain is to maintain an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. You can do this by eating anti-inflammatory foods, like green leafy vegetables, and managing your stress. One of my favorite stress management tools is this six phase meditation.
In addition to diet and stress management, getting tested to ensure that you are free of chronic infections and autoimmune diseases, both of which can contribute to internal inflammation, is essential to preventing joint decay and aging.
The most common treatment for joint pain and arthritis among conventional doctors is pharmaceutical drugs. There are alternatives.
By staying active and hydrated, maintaining a healthy weight, supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes, and keeping your inflammation levels low you can greatly decrease your joint pain and even prevent further joint decay.
In the next blog post in this series, we’ll take a closer look at food and supplements and discuss what you can incorporate into your diet to reduce inflammation and support the health of your joints.