As we get older, we tend to experience more aches and pains, especially in our joints. Knee pain, hip pain, and wrist pain are all common woes. Pains in our joints are often brought on or get worse after an injury, because of arthritis, or after contracting a viral infection. Many people have suffered from prolonged joint pain after contracting Covid-19. Left untreated, joint pain and stiffness can lead to reduced mobility and as a result, affect mental health, so it’s important that we do everything we can to protect our joints and futureproof our mobility and vitality. So, how can we protect against joint pain and ensure more healthy joints in the future?
Lyndsay Hirst, founder of Your Pilates Physio explains why it’s important to take a whole-body approach to joint care. “Joint care is something that most people only think about when they start getting pain. However, if we started looking after our joints from an early age we would be much less likely to suffer as we get older. I often talk to my patients about the biomechanics of their joints. To give you an example, the knee sits between the hip and the ankle, and is hugely influenced by the biomechanics of both. If your hip is weak or sits in an internal rotated position this will affect the function and position of the knee. Our muscles and joints don't move in isolation so it is important to consider the whole body in terms of alignment and strength.”
“Joint care is looking after your joints with lots of different tools such as nutrition, exercise and activity modification.”
Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your joints active are key to maintaining healthy joints. “Movement is medicine! This is something I tell all of my patients with joint pain. It is important to get the balance right between exercise and rest and also learning what exercise suits you,” says Hirst.
"When thinking about doing exercises for your joints don't just think flexibility is the answer. It is the combination of flexibility, mobility and stability that will give your joints the healthiest outcome.”
You can find mobility flows and sequences online to help to increase your flexibility and strengthen the muscles around your joints helping to reduce joint damage and pain in the future. Strengthening, activating, and warming up your joints in this way can help you to avoid injuries too.
Particular exercises can support healthy joints. Low-impact aerobic exercises can help you to increase your cardiovascular fitness, help you maintain a healthy weight, and isn’t too much pressure on the joints. High-impact exercises or repetitive movements for sustained periods can cause painful joint problems. “Tennis elbow” is a specific joint pain experienced by lots of tennis players!
Rest & recovery
The more extra weight you carry, the more pressure on your joints as you get older. If you’re exercising a lot, or even if you’re not,if you’re experiencing muscle and joint pain, try taking warm baths, getting massages, and getting lots of rest. Sleep is super important, along with taking quality rest days where you avoid strenuous exercise and rest joints and muscles. In studies, people who stretched more, particularly before bed,experienced less muscle and joint pain and cramping during the night. Since cold exposure reduces inflammation and pain, some people swear by cold water therapy for helping to improve their joint pain too.
Digestion & Gut Health
When a lot of pressure is put on joints, it can cause inflammation including pain and swelling – particularly common after sustaining a joint injury. Sustained inflammation over long periods of time can lead to serious health conditions like arthritis. This is why it’s so important to add anti-inflammatories to your daily diet to protect your long-term health, not just when you start experiencing a niggle.
Turmeric is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that’s been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda medicine. Because turmeric is hard to digest, it’s best to use a supplement that already has other ingredients in it (like black pepper) that assist the body in absorbing it and increase its bioavailability (the body’s ability to utilize it effectively.) Over time turmeric can help your joints to ache less, and help you move easier. Enjoy it in a frothy latte blend!
Combine turmeric with CBD to supercharge pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory powers! CBD can also enhance feelings of relaxation and alleviate anxiety for less pain and stress to feel calmer overall.
Maintain a healthy diet
The foods you eat can affect your joints too. Avoid heavily processed foods, high-sugar foods, red meat, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and gluten. Instead, choose a nutritious, well-balanced diet that includes lots of vegetables, especially the dark, leafy kind like spinach, kale, and lettuce. Include a good source of protein with every meal, and choose whole-grain carbohydrates, instead of refined types. Make sure you’re getting all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need with supplements if you struggle to include them in your diet.
Boost collagen production
You might have seen collagen-boosting ingredients in your skincare and haircare, but did you know that collagen also supports healthy joint care too? Collagen, as the most abundant protein in the body, is found in most of the bodies’ tissues including tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, and connective tissue. While the body makes its own collagen, it rapidly decreases as we get older by 1% per year, hence why we lose the luminosity in our skin and hair, and we get more aches and pains. Cartilage is also prone to wear and tear as we get older, and when the cartilage layer becomes damaged, it can cause joint pain, stiffness, and loss of bone strength. Whilewecan’t stop deteriorating collagen,strength, or bone mass, we can do our bit to protect what we’ve gotwith collagen-boosting supplements, healthynutritionandstrength training.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Along with drinking plenty of water, joint lubrication can be improved by increasing the number of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Healthy fats containing these nutritious fatty acids include salmon, trout, mackerel, avocado, almonds, olive oil, walnuts, and chia seeds. If you struggle to include these foods in your diet, try an omega-3 supplement like fish oil or krill oil to ensure you’re getting all the fatty acids you need to reduce joint stiffness and tenderness.
Deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to certain types of arthritis, and many of us are lacking in it, especially during the winter months when we’re exposed to less sunlight. Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which supports healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Increase your vitamin D intake with supplements and vitamin-D-rich foods like oily fish, egg yolks, and some fortified foods like breakfast cereals.
Future-proof your vitality
As we get older, our muscles, joints, and bones naturally become weaker over time. By taking care of them with regular exercise, recovery, and fuelling our bodies with the right nutrients, we can future-proof our vitality and slow down the natural aging process. Live better for longer with less joint pain and more joy!