There are hundreds of supplements out there that promise to improve joint health, but i’m here to tell you that there is no magical supplement that will solve all your joint problems. In fact, most supplements will have little (if any) impact on your joint health. The good news is that there are things you can start doing today to get on track to healthier joints and they won’t cost you a dime.
The first part of this secret formula is likely no secret at all: diet and exercise.
If you don’t use it, you lose it. This sentiment rings true when it comes to joint health. To maintain the elasticity and resiliency of joints, we need to keep them doing what they were designed to do, and that is move. Our modern lifestyles of sitting at work, in the car, and on the couch in front of the T.V. all cause the joints to stiffen. So staying active is key when it comes to healthy joints. What kind of exercise is best really depends on your current fitness level and your goals. If we’re solely talking joint health, I think body weight exercises (squats, push ups, pulls ups) are sufficient along with walking, skipping and yoga. Keep in mind that trying to do too much too fast will only lead to injury so take your time. Strength training with weights can also be great for bone and joint health, but if you’re unfamiliar, definitely use a trainer to learn good form and technique.
The next no brainer is diet. It used to be thought that it was the added weight that was bad for the joints. However, a new concept of metaflammation is showing that too many refined foods can increase inflammation in body tissues, and that the extra weight isn’t the entire story. This means, that if you have a faster metabolism, and think that’s a ticket to eat whatever you want, you may want to reconsider. See my post on what the hell can I eat for more information.
Now to some ideas that are less frequently discussed.
Joint centration, or optimally centered joints. Muscle tone on each side of a joint will influence the alignment of a joint. Use the shoulder as an example, too tight pec, not strong enough back of shoulder blade rotates the shoulder forward causes rotation that puts the shoulder in a compromised position and can lead to strains and rotator cuff problems. Basically, the muscles on each side of a joint should be in balance and if they’re not, the joint won’t be aligned properly and more susceptible to wear and tear. To find out if your muscles are balanced, you should see a specialist in functional rehabilitation or functional movement assessments.
Finally, I want to bring up the idea of stimulating nerve receptors in the soft tissues near joints. These points correlate to where trigger points are commonly found and where acupuncture points are located. These areas typically have a high density of special nerve receptors called mechanoreceptors and, when stimulated with myofascial release type techniques, can act as a reset for the muscles in that area. Similarly, a spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustment can be a great way to wake up the nervous system in a particular area.