As the autumn weather fast approaches, a lot of people will assert that they can feel the twinge in their joints. Whatever your age, a small ache now could become arthritis – or worse – down the road, so start taking care of your joints today. You don’t have to be one of the more than 40 million Americans who suffer from arthritis and joint pain. Take these tips to protect your joints well into the future.
1. Eat Curry
Curry, a staple spice combo in Southeast Asian cuisine, contains turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its distinctive color. The active component in turmeric is called curcumin. If you are a fan of curry, you will be happy to know that this substance is associated with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been associated with relief for joint pain. In one randomized control study, 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis received either 800 mg per day ibuprofen or 2 grams per day Curcuma domestica extract. Both groups showed improvement in pain during level walking and climbing stairs.
2. Try Traditional Herbal Therapy
The traditional Chinese remedy for back and joint pain is the herb eucommia, which strengthens bones, tendons and ligaments. Western studies with rats confirm that both the leaves and the bark of eucommia contain a compound that encourages the development of collagen, an important part of connective tissues such as skin, tendons and ligaments. A typical dosage is 350 mg twice a day.
3. Practice Exercise That Is Gentle on Joints
One of the best ways to protect your joints is regular exercise. Exercise circulates blood flow to your joints, stimulating the body’s regeneration mechanisms. Regular exercise also strengthens the muscles surrounding your joints, preventing them from rubbing against one another and wearing down cartilage. One more bonus: Exercise also helps you maintain your ideal body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you are putting on your joints, especially your hips, back, knees and feet – so that is a major consideration.
Gentle on the joints, tai chi and qigong exercises improve overall flexibility and strengthen the joints. In my clinic, I teach a simple 30-minute daily practice called Eight Treasures qigong, which has been passed down through my family. It has been clinically shown to strengthen bones and joints and prevent arthritis. Best of all, it is far less stressful and strenuous than other types of physical exercise, and particularly emphasizes stretching and the strengthening of joints, tendons and muscles. Most licensed practitioners of Chinese medicine are able to teach some form of qigong and tai chi exercises, or you can learn from an instructional DVD.
4. Posture Makes Perfect
You don’t have to walk around with a book on your head, but if you value your joints, do make an effort to stand up straight. Good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees. Over time, gravity will make sure that slump shows up as joint problems.
Once you’re used to standing and sitting up straight, your muscles will feel an overall ease in stress because they won't be in constant use to maintain an unsupported off-center body form. To get proper posture, pull your chin inward and pretend there is a string pulling straight up from the top of your head.