Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy life’s adventures pain-free, with all the suppleness and mobility that you had in your younger days? While stiff joints are sometimes associated with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, you can develop stiffness for a host of other reasons as you get older.
If you’re experiencing pain, fatigue or stiffness that worsens over a period of time, do see your doctor or health professional. Arthritis symptoms can be managed to a degree with early treatment.
Nevertheless, regardless of whether you suffer from a degeneration of joint cartilage or just feel like you aren’t moving as easily as you once did, there are several natural ways you can alleviate stiff joints.
STRIVE TO BE LEAN
Becoming and staying lean is likely the best overall thing you can do for your health. It’s also the most difficult for many people. But think of it this way — every pound you manage to lose is going to reduce even more pressure on your knees, hips and back.
Most people fail with weight loss because they get caught up in gimmicks, fad diets or quick-fix promises. Instead, make it a priority to eat natural foods (not packaged food ‘products’). In other words, if you had to rate foods from 1 to 10, with 1 being fast food, sugary snacks and processed junk foods — and 10 being fresh vegetables, quality meats, chicken, fish, fruits and nuts — just try and eat closer to a 10. Don’t worry about perfection.
Another great tip for weight loss is to stop eating when you’re 80% full. Many of us eat so fast that our brains don’t register the fact that we’re full until it’s too late. Take your time, eat mindfully, and stop just before you feel like you’re done.
Finally, make sure you drink lots of water. Choose plain water (or some green tea / black coffee) over sodas and juices, even those that are unsweetened.
Despite what the weight-loss industry may tell you, it doesn’t really get much more complicated than that.
If you suffer from stiff joints, it’s essential you get them mobile — and that means you have to move. Every day. Whether it’s going for a walk in the park, doing a few assisted squats, seeing if you can do some pushups against a wall or from your knees — exercise is literally one of the keys to longevity.
Prioritize mobility and flexibility training – joint mobility or yoga is great. Avoid high-impact exercises and long-distance running. But do combine some form of aerobic training (walking, swimming, cycling, sprinting, etc). with some resistance training. You can use your own bodyweight or use a set of dumbbells. Weight training will improve your bone mineral density and ensure that you strengthen your joints. It’s not just about muscles…
EAT ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Inflammation can be a major contributor to joint pain and stiffness if it gets out of control. Just as you want to eat a healthy diet to control your weight, watching what you eat can also make a big difference to getting rid of inflammation.
You’ll want to avoid things like sugars, vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates and processed foods for starters.
Do get lots of omega-3s in your diet. Fatty fish like sardines, herring, mackerel and wild-caught salmon are great.
Consider taking a good quality fish oil like NutraSea from Ascenta Health.
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Eat lots of dark, leafy greens. Kale, spinach, collard greens — even romaine lettuce. Get in some cruciferous vegetables too — things like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
Don’t spare the olive oil, as it’s full of antioxidants. Choose a quality extra-virgin — I use a single-mill variety from Greece that I love.
Choose organic foods whenever possible, according to your budget.
Finally, make some homemade bone broth. The gelatin and collagen in the broth will help keep your joints healthy by supporting the ligaments and tendons, and bone broth contains a good dosage of glucosamine as well.
There are lots of recipes on the web, but in a nutshell you can use any combination of beef marrow, knuckle bones, calves foot, or rib/neck bones (I like to roast them first). Include some onions, carrots and celery and season with bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and garlic.
Throw in a good measure of apple cider vinegar that will help draw the minerals and nutrients out of the bones. Simmer for about 4-6 hours or more. Strain and re-season before serving.
TRY SUPPLEMENTING WITH TURMERIC, GINGER and GARLIC.
These spices have been shown to be particularly anti-inflammatory in study after study. Turmeric can be added to eggs, curries and vegetable dishes. Ginger and garlic have been part of the cuisines of China and India since ancient times, and are easy to incorporate into modern diets. You can also find these ingredients in supplement form.
Don’t forget the onions. They not only compliment the above spices, but they also have their own anti-inflammatory properties.
VISIT YOUR CHIROPRACTOR AND/OR BOOK A MASSAGE
Sometimes stiffness can be caused by a joint that’s immobilized by not being in good alignment. A good chiropractic doctor can often restore normal movement by locating the source of the problem and gently manipulating your spine and joints back into proper position.
Booking a regular massage can also help keep your body supple, reduce pain and improve mobility. Again, if you suffer from arthritis or compromised joints, always consult your doctor first to see if therapies such as massage or chiropractic care are right for you.
Personally, I use the services of Fallingbrook Family Chiropractic in Toronto. Dr Adam Bletsoe and his team are experts are not only treating the spine, but taking care of the whole body. Their services range from physiotherapy to massage and acupuncture — all which can have positive effects on reducing joint pain and stiffness.
Ultimately, we’re responsible for our own health and wellbeing. While it’s certain that we’re all dealt a genetic ‘hand’ to play, many people pass-up the opportunity to embrace life by optimizing the potential they have.
Don’t be one of those people. Listen to your body and see what improvements you can make by focusing on one or more of these strategies!