How to relieve painful and inflamed joints
In Australia, around 3.85 million people are currently living with arthritis – that’s about 18 per cent of the population who wake up with pain, swelling and inflammation. Arthritis can’t always be prevented – gender and genetics can play a role – but you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing painful and inflamed joints. Jonathon Freeman, exercise physiologist, sports scientist and strength and conditioning expert, reveals how diet and exercise can reduce the risk and severity of arthritis.
1. Fish/Fish Oil
Certain types of fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which assist with fighting inflammation in the body. Include salmon or tuna into your diet a few times a week. Taking fish oil supplements may also assist with this, although there are still big question marks about how helpful they really are.
2. Glucosamine supplements
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and helps to maintain the health of cartilage, the tissue that cushions bones at the joints. As we get older, the the level of natural glucosamine in our bodies begins to drop. This leads to gradual breakdown of the joint, contributing to conditions such as osteoarthritis. Glucosamine supplements may assist with reducing inflammation in the body, some research has found, and is non pharmaceutical, cost effective, and easily accessible. Keep in mind, if you have an allergy or don’t eat fish, that it is often harvested from the shells of shellfish.
Turmeric has been a staple in Indian dishes such as curry for centuries. This is due not only to its bright yellow colour and rich flavour, but also its anti-inflammatory properties. As the body of research about its medicinal effects grow, humble turmeric has become the darling of the superfood trend. It’s important to remember that turmeric is a positive addition to your diet and offers a variety of benefits, the therapeutic dose is very high. If you are taking a turmeric or curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) supplement, you may want to take it with some black pepper which helps your body absorb its beneficial properties.
5. Calcium rich foods:
We know that the calcium found in dairy products has been shown to assist in increasing bone strength in the body. Consider including milk, yoghurt, or cheese. If your body doesn’t agree with dairy, calcium can be found in other food sources such as leafy green vegetables and dried beans and legumes, tofu and sardines, rhubarb and even chocolate. Also, there is some evidence that dairy exacerbates some people’s condition, so remember there are a variety of ways to up your calcium intake.
According to research, people with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep and better day-to-day function. Here are five helpful exercises:
1. Side band walks:
- Place a flat exercise band just above each ankle, wrapped around both of your legs – if you’re just starting out, use the lowest resistance band and gradually build up resistance over time.
- Position your feet shoulder width apart, so the exercise band is taut but not overly stretched.
- Bend the knees slightly, moving into a half squat position
- Make sure the feet are kept in line with your shoulders during this exercise- shift your weight over one leg, and then take a step sideways with the other leg
- Repeat this 8-10 times, and then switch directions
2. Forward band walks
- Rather than placing the band above your ankles as done with the side band walk exercise, instead place just above your knees
- Start in the half squat position, with knees bent and hips slightly pushed back
- Ensure the torso is kept upright as possible and you are not bending forward-take a step forward at a 45 degree angle for as far as you can
- Ensure that you stay in the half squat position, and then take another step forward with your other leg- do 10 steps for both sides to complete a set
- The easiest way to ensure correct positioning during the plank exercise is to start off in a push up position
- Bend the elbows to 90 degrees, and rest your weight on your forearms- for a more efficient plank stretch, your body should form a continuous straight line from your head to your toes, with your elbows resting directly under your shoulders
- Gravity will try and win out against your body, so try and hold this position for as long as you can!
- To begin a wall squat, find an uncluttered area, and stand against the wall with the feet shoulder width apart. Your feet should be positioned slightly away from the wall, and the knees should be in line with your heels, not poking out over your toes! Squat by mimicking a sitting down movement- do this a far as you can go comfortably, without dropping the buttocks lower than the knees
- Flatten your back against the wall, and return to a standing position, pushing up through the heels- this will help with working the muscles in the back of your legs and buttocks
5. Glute bridges
- Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet planted flat against the ground, shoulder width apart
- Tighten the abdominal muscles, squeeze the glute muscles in the buttocks, and slowly lift your hips up off the floor, raising until they are in line with your knees and shoulders. Relax the glute muscles and lower back to the floor slowly
- Repeat 10-15 times to complete a set
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