Ten Tips for Improving Joint Health and Flexibility
"Joint discomfort can limit a person’s ability to perform even the most basic functions, and seriously compromise quality of life."
In today’s show with Dr. Nancy, PhD holistic nutritionist, we will talk about joint health. Watch Dr. Nancy take you through her joint health top 10 practices and awareness techniques for keeping your joints healthy and strong. These will include a number of holistic things that you can do at home right now to help improve your joint flexibility and health.
- 0:42: Facts About Joint Health
- 2:18: Top 10 tips for joint health
- 2:32: Keep moving
- 8:29: Increase your range of motion
- 10:07: Herbs, spices and supplements
- 13:28: Hang out at the salad bars
- 14:07: Taste the rainbow
- 15:28: Cut back on jitter juice
- 16:52: Flow more
- 18:49: Maintain a healthy weight
- 20:03: Practice self-care
- 22:20: Reduce inflammation
- 25:27: Wrap Up
Facts About Joint Health
In the U.S., more than a quarter of all adults have to deal with joint pain regularly. Of these, about 1/4 suffer from chronic severe joint pain. Joint discomfort can limit a person’s ability to perform even the most basic functions, and seriously compromise quality of life. In fact, among adults who said they were disabled or unable to work, severe joint pain was cited 50% of the time. If you are dealing with regular joint pain, please see your health provider or your doctor.
Top 10 Practices for Improving Joint Health
There are plenty of comprehensive things you can do right at home which can help immediately improve joint flexibility and health. Here are the top 10 we recommend.
Physical activity is one of the best things that you can do to make sure that your joints stay healthy. When it comes to joint health, exercise and body movements strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve bone health and strength.
For those who are suffering from joint pain, strength exercises through resistance training like weights or bands is a fantastic way to accomplish this. If you do have joint pain, try to participate in low impact exercises like swimming, biking, using the elliptical machine, or going for a walk. You want to make sure that you’re moving your body, while avoiding any activity that causes pounding on your joints, which might aggravate them more. So low-impact movement will really help to alleviate some of that pressure when you do it consistently.
Another great technique is to hold something like a kettlebell in each hand, or two jugs of gallon-sized water, and walk. You can walk maybe 20 steps one way, do an about face and walk back in the other direction. This is functional movement and very realistic compared to lifting weights at the gym.
In addition to getting your body moving and working out, you have to stretch. Stretching can make your joints healthier and help slow decline and relieve stiffness. However, you don’t want to do any stretch on its own. Avoid static stretches like forward folds or quad stretches if you’re cold. Think of your muscles like a rubber band. If you take a rubber band from the freezer, which is pretty much how we wake up in the morning, and stretch it, it’s not pliable. It’s actually very rigid and if you pull it too hard when it’s cold it can break. The same applies to your joints.
For this reason, we want to make sure that if you are cold, or have not begun to move your body yet, you start slow and incorporate some kind of a warm up. Try dynamic stretches, such as:
- Side-to-side lunges. To do this stretch, stand straight with feet shoulder width apart, and then move one leg to the side and crouch, putting all your weight on that leg. Then stand back up, and repeat on the other side. If it’s too hard to do this unsupported, hold on to a table or chair for support.
- Walking butt kickers. To do this stretch, stand up, cross your arms over your chest, and walk while kicking your heels is up toward your glutes. These are very low-impact and you can definitely do this in place or walk.
If you don’t stretch, your muscles can become tight and they can shorten.This puts extra strain on the joints, which can lead to pain and injury. Stretching is going to help make sure your joints stay strong and flexible.
Increase your range of motion
This is another huge benefit when it comes to keeping your joints healthy. Stretching improves flexibility, and flexibility helps improve range of motion. When the range of motion decreases, and when your joints become swollen, it can become harder and harder to move. For example, knee pain is the number one thing that people suffer from. When you have an inflamed knee it becomes swollen, and difficult to move. But if you start to move anyway, you will find it usually greatly improves in the long run. Be mindful as you do this, and work to increase the range of motion your joints that don’t have sharp jarring pain.
If you are engaging in activities that are constantly challenging your body and allowing your body to move, you have a better range of motion and your muscles are able to be more flexible so you experience less pain.
Herbs, spices, and supplements
There are several things you can consume to improve joint health and flexibility. Various herbs and spices help keep the joints nourished and less inflamed. You can throw in the spices and herbs in your meals to add flavor. Also incorporate Smarter Curcumin into your diet, which is considered one of the top supplements for dealing with free radicals and inflammation that attack joints. Curcumin is the active healing compound found inside the turmeric root, and in Smarter Curcumin, it is isolated and combined with the right support ingredients for maximum effectiveness.
Calcium and Vitamin D are two more important supplements. Not only are they important for joint health, but they work hand in hand, since vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption. While catching some rays can definitely help boost your vitamin D, if you have joint issues then it is recommended to take a very good vitamin D3 with K2 formula like the Smarter Vitamin D for your bones, joints and immune system. Talk to your doctor to find out if you have a vitamin D deficiency. About 90% of Americans actually do have a vitamin D deficiency. Calcium can also help boost bone density and it is found in foods like almonds, chia seeds and figs. Make sure you get these as well.
Hang out at the salad bars
Load up on your dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, which are great ways to help prevent bone loss. Broccoli and cauliflower are also fantastic choices. In fact you should aim to eat about two cups of veggies per meal to keep your bones strong and your joints nice and flexible.
Taste the rainbow
Sugar and processed foods are only going to worsen your joint pain. So avoid sugars and alcohol too at all cost, as they are very inflammatory and acidic to the body. Add a little color to your diet by means of fruits and vegetables. These include colorful fruits like cherries, oranges, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. All of these in your diet will help ensure that you get the right amount of fiber, and the right amount of vital nutrients and antioxidants into your diet. This will help keep inflammation down and reduce joint pain.
Cut back on jitter juice
Reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks such as coffee. These increase cortisol, adding to inflammation in the body. It can also weaken your bones, which can in turn lead to increased joint pain.
Try taking a Yoga class! Yoga is a great way to strengthen the muscles around the joints to increase your flexibility. It’s also a great way to strengthen the mind/body connection, helping you become more aware of what is going on in your body. This enables you to notice issues going on in the body more quickly. It is an immediate biofeedback mechanism.
Maintain a healthy weight
Start by finding out what your ideal weight is. To prolong the health of your joints, you may need to drop a few pounds. Every pound you lose takes four pounds of pressure off your knees. So for the love of your knees, lose a few if you need to. Check in with your scale, find that foundational marker, and then take some steps to start getting that weight off to alleviate some of that pressure off of your joints and your knees.
Self-care is a big buzz word being thrown around, but it's important. When you practice self-care by doing things like getting a massage, or taking a nice relaxing bath, or going outside just for yourself, you’re going to find that you wake up with less stiffness. Stress really makes us rigid. Self-care helps reduce the chances of joint pain preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Self massage, especially with peppermint or essential oils, can really help you relax. You need to make sure regular self-care is part of your daily routine. Sit down in a quiet room every day, take a couple of deep breaths, hit the pause button, and relax as you massage your achy joints away.
A cold massage is also another great option to alleviate joint pain and swelling. You can take an ice cube bath, or rub ice around the places that are aggravated. You can use a bag of frozen cold peas or an ice pack for this purpose as well.
There are a couple of ways that you can reduce inflammation. Remember, our equation of health:
Less Inflammation In + More Inflammation Out = A Healthy You.
Eat more anti-inflammatory foods like dark leafy greens, berries, salmon, avocado, walnuts, chia seeds, avocado, and Swiss chard. Avoid eating foods that cause inflammation. These include dairy, refined sugars, coffee, processed foods, nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers, anything fried, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils.
Exercise and move your body regularly and consistently, and manage your stress levels to reduce inflammation. If you can actively follow the first nine tips on this list, then you’ll be in great shape when it comes to reducing inflammation in the body, which in turn will begin to improve the health and mobility of your joints.
More than 25% of adults deal with joint pain regularly, and 25% of those people have chronic, severe joint pain. However, there are always a number of things that we can do at home to improve our joint health and increase our flexibility. The first one is to participate in a low-impact exercise, like aerobics, walking or biking. If your joints allow, you can also do resistance training for bone and muscle strength. Remember to do some dynamic stretching with your workout. Static stretching, (like a standing forward fold) on cold muscles, could lead to possible injury. We always want to make sure that we are a little bit warm before we stretch and when we do stretching, we want to do dynamic stretching.
Eat plenty of fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, and berries.
Stress less. Try a yoga class or begin a deep breathing practice. Sigh a couple of times and make it audible. Deep breathing and sighing helps to calm the central nervous system. If you don’t know where to start with stress reduction, start with a sigh, or try a number of relaxation apps to get started. Also use some lavender essential oils to help you calm down, relax and improve your sleep. You can use this to make lavender tea as well.
Practice some of the other tips and tricks in this article, including maintaining a healthy weight, cutting back on caffeine, and adding great, natural supplements to your diet to reduce pressure and pain on your joints.