If you suffer from joint pain, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do, or need to do. But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. For some people, the right exercise routine can even help delay or sidestep surgery.
While exercise is great medicine, it only works if you carve out time to do it regularly. And sometimes the hardest part of a workout is getting started. Here are four ways to help you get your dose of physical activity:
Carve out the time. Skip several half-hour TV shows a week or work out while watching. Get up half an hour earlier each day for a morning workout. If big blocks of time aren’t falling into your lap, try 10-minute walks, or half a workout in the morning and half in the evening.
Build activity into your daily routine. Take stairs, not elevators. When commuting, get off the bus or subway a stop or two ahead, or park farther away from your workplace. While on the phone, try a few stretches, pace, or do simple exercises like lunges, squats, and heel raises. Bike or walk to work. When running errands within a reasonable radius, park your car in one spot and walk to different shops. Replace your desk and desk chair with a standing desk. Try substituting a stability ball for your desk chair a few hours a day. Rake leaves and shovel snow instead of using a leaf blower or snow blower.
Find a workout buddy. Workouts with a friend can be more enjoyable, plus you’re less likely to cancel on the spur of the moment.
Bugged by bad weather or early darkness? Buy equipment necessary for exercising at home, join a gym, try a class in your community, or walk the mall or an indoor athletic track at a local school.
When motivation flags, remind yourself of your goals, plan small rewards, ask a friend to check up on you, or consider working out with a personal trainer.
- Exercise Consistently. Some sort of weight bearing exercise should be implemented as well as a low grade general form of exercise such as; Biking, Walking, Gardening, Hiking etc. Weight bearing exercise can strengthen bones through and increased production of Osteoblasts (bone builders).
- Limit Wheat Consumption. Now I am not one to demonize wheat or tell you to stop eating it, but there is a good amount of research to show that in high enough doses wheat can cause joint inflammation and potentially lead to joint issues.
So what is your best bet? Go for the least refined product you can, and ideally something that has been prepared in a traditional way (which reduces the anti-nutrients) think sourdough or sprouted bread. Secondly slightly limit consumption – I feel the real problem with wheat comes not from eating it every now and then, but rather when it becomes a staple being consumed several times a day. There are an abundance of other non inflammatory sources of starch to be had like Corn, Roots, Brown Rice, and Quinoa…. Besides variety in diet is key.
- Stretch/Mobility. As I haven mentioned in several previous articles stretching and mobility work is hugely important to maintaining and developing joint health. This is because it releases tightness in the muscles surrounding the joints, not only this but it allows more freedom in blood flow to the joints and therefore allows them to maintain their elasticity and mobility.
I had a friend who solved years of lower back pain just by implementing a regular and thorough stretching routine, focusing on the hamstrings. With times this seems to somehow strengthen the muscles and increase blood flow healing up the long standing injury. To me this is one of the reasons Yoga can work wonders on sports injuries.
- Stress Reduction. General stress can also be a huge factor when it comes to inflammation - This doesn’t just mean a stressful job, but it could be relationships, money problems, over exercising, not enough sleep, or just dealing with small stressors badly. Being chronically stressed to some level will increase the cortisol levels in your body and cause a chronic low grade level of inflammation. On top of causing joint pain this can also lead to several other health problems.
The solution is quite simply to find the main stressors in your life and do your best to deal with them. While this is not always easy it is one of the first areas to address when attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Get your Vitamin D. A low intake of Vitamin D has been shown to lead to osteoarthiritis – Vitamin D is critical to calcium absorption in the body and most of the worlds population are at chronically low levels. I did a post a few months ago on ways to tan without blocking Vitamin D absorption. The best way to get Vitamin D is from sunlight, so supplements maybe worthwhile in the winter to keep levels topped up. So take every chance you have to get some sun…..
- Keep Omega 6 intake Down. A high intake of Omega-6 fatty acids will increase blood concentrations of Interluekin-6 which is basically has a pretty substantial inflammatory effect on the body. It also seems to have a profound effect on down regulating the thyroid function. In a nut shell:
Avoid Vegetable Oils when possible (corn, soybean, canola, rapeseed) and. Use animal fat, butter, olive oil, and coconut oil instead, and eat plenty of fatty fish or take fish oil on occassion to balance out with Omega-3′s.
This stuff is nearly everywhere so make sure you read labels and make sure products are made with high quality oils/fats. This can be hard sometimes and its not something to get obsessed with but just a general guideline for better health.
- Eat Spices. Specifically turmeric, which thanks to its curcumin has a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the body. What is interesting is that the specific anti-oxidants in turmeric seem to have a unique effect on arthritis of all forms.