As fall rolls around and the cold weather starts to sneak into our lives, many people are finding that the activities they loved in warmer days are not only becoming more difficult, but more painful as well. This pain can be attributed, in part, to an increase in joint inflammation and a deterioration of overall joint health. Nobody wants stiff and burning joints to keep them from the golf course or a walk on a beautiful, crisp autumn morning. Luckily with adjustments to your diet and daily routine, getting back on the course could be easier and more realistic than you think.
The force on all the joints in the lower extremities is five times that of body weight! This means that for every twenty extra pounds you’re carrying, your knees, hips and ankles are all feeling an extra hundred pounds of force for every step you take. As you can imagine, this is one of the major factors in the wear and tear on joints, and weight management should always be one of the first steps in the process of not only making joints, but the entire body healthier. We know that can be a difficult problem for many people and that is why we typically recommend a supervised program such as Weight Watchers. While weight management is one of the first and most important steps in beginning to heal joints, be sure to choose exercise options that are low-impact and put lower stress on the joints. Walking, biking, and swimming are great examples of activities that have minimal stress and are much better for your joints, when compared to running and other high impact activities. Exercise’s impact on joint health is twofold: not only will less weight create less force on the joints, but strengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles around these joints helps to relieve pressure and improve flexibility.
Some other easy ways to promote joint health and even reverse some of the wear and tear that accumulates over the years is through consuming foods that have certain ingredients. Vitamin C is one of the best nutrients in maintaining joint health because it actively fights inflammation in the body.
Foods that contain high levels of vitamin C notably include papaya, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, mangos, pineapple, and yellow bell peppers. One large pepper can contain as much as 500% of your recommended daily Vitamin C value. Vitamin E is another good example of a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant to fight these bad reactions in the body that damage cells. Foods that are high in Vitamin E include almonds, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds. Another type of food that helps to decrease inflammation in your joints is any type of cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, or anchovies. These types of fish meat contain large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids – compounds that have been shown to naturally reduce swelling and discomfort in joints. Not only do these fatty acids work on their own to bring down inflammation but they may improve the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medications
If you are experiencing joint pain that is persistent or severe or have questions on how to improve your joint health, contact your local orthopedic surgeon.
Dr. Tauro is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Ocean County Sports Medicine, located in Toms River, NJ. He specializes in the prevention and treatment of sports injuries and degenerative joint conditions, and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in the development of advanced minimally-invasive treatment methods and procedures. Dr. Tauro also serves as Associate Professor of Orthopedics at Rutgers Medical School. More information on Dr. Tauro and his practice can be found at www.oceancountysportsmedicine.com or by calling (732) 341-6226.
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