by Leigh Ann Thomas, Certified Personal Trainer 

Joint health is very important in maintaining an independent lifestyle, especially as we age. But joint pain can start as early as your 20s if you grew up playing sports. Regardless of what your lifestyle may look like, taking care of your joints should be a high priority.

Most professional athletes train six, sometimes seven days a week. They push their bodies to the limit, working to increase endurance and strength capacity in order to outshine the competition. Like athletes, parents work tirelessly to care and provide for their family around the clock, seven days a week. Cleaning the house, playing football with the kids, and aerobic classes every week can really take a toll on your joints. If you exercise regularly and suffer from joint pain, then you may notice your performance starting to suffer. Research shows that 1 in every 3 Americans suffer from joint pain on a daily basis. Athlete or not, we all push ourselves to some capacity and if we fail to listen to our bodies, especially our joints, the consequence could lead to serious long-term damage.

Depending on the severity of your joint symptoms, caused by either an underlying disease or other ailments, there are natural solutions to treat and prevent unwanted joint pain.  Regular exercise, stretching, a clean diet and maintaining a healthy weight are some of the most obvious solutions that come to mind. But do you know which foods you should be eating? Do you know which exercises you should be doing? Are you sure you’re supplementing with the right vitamins and minerals? These are all factors to take into account in treating and preventing joint pain that affect Americans every day.

Common Causes of Joint Pain

Joints offer structural support and movement for our bones. Joints are comprised of smooth tissue called cartilage and synovial fluid which lubricate and cushion the joints to prevent friction against the bone. Listed below are some common factors that lead to joint pain:

  • Age – As we age, our collagen production starts to slow down. Collagen, the main building block, makes up 50% of cartilage protein. So it’s understandable that we may notice more aches and pains as we get older.
  • Lifestyle – The level of activity affects the wear and tear on your body. If you’re an endurance athlete or exercise for longer than an hour a day, 6-7 days a week, this can have a significant impact on your joints. Overtraining is one of the leading causes of body aches and joint trauma. Listen to your body. In contrast, living a very sedentary lifestyle, such as working at a desk job with no exercise or activity can lead to muscle atrophy (breakdown of muscle) and joint pain, which are most common in the wrists, hips, knees and back.
  • Autoimmune Disorders – Some autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism can lead to joint inflammation and pain.
  • Footwear – The fit, condition and style of your shoe needs to provide proper foot support. If your shoes are worn out, lacking cushion, the wrong size, or if you wear heels for a living, this can ultimately lead to pain in your ankles, knees, hips and back.
  • Weight – Being overweight can negatively affect your joints, causing excess stress and pressure in your lower back and knees. Maintaining a healthy weight will significantly reduce the load on your joints, restoring the strength and mobility. 

3 Natural Solutions for Joint Pain

1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the most natural ways to strengthen and heal the body. When it comes to preventing and relieving joint pain, here are a few tips to remember when approaching an exercise program:

  • Low-Impact Cardio - Focus on low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as the elliptical machine, bike, Arc trainers, rowing and walking. If walking becomes bothersome, then stick to a machine that isn’t so jarring. Avoid high impact exercises such as running and jumping. Cardiovascular exercise will strengthen your heart, improve endurance, burn excess fat and help you lose or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Targeted Strength Training – Strong muscles support your joints. Focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles of the joints that sustain the majority of movement. If you are a runner, your goal would be to strengthen your posterior chain (think: hamstrings, glutes, calves, and abdomen) to support your knees, hips and lower back. However, this does not mean you should neglect the rest of your body. Split your training according to your goals and lifestyle needs.
  • Flexibility – Workouts such as yoga and Pilates can help elongate and strengthen your muscles, improving elasticity and joint mobility. This style of exercise can also improve muscle imbalances, such as pelvic and spinal alignment which can decrease joint pain. 

2. Supplements

When diet alone cannot provide you with all the necessary vitamins and minerals you need, outside supplementation will be the best way to guarantee that your joints are well taken care of.

  • Dr. Hotze’s Joint Comfort – This unique formula is designed to improve the health and mobility of your joints by reducing inflammation and scar tissue. Dr. Hotze’s Joint Comfort includes natural ingredients, such as glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) which help to reduce pain and stress, as well as restore healthy connective tissues.
  • Omega Nutrients – Essential fatty acids are necessary for maintaining good health. There are certain fats that our body produces naturally, but others types must be sourced through our diet. The certified organic flax oil found in Omega Nutrients includes Omega’s 3, 6 and 9 to help keep joints healthy and flexible, while reducing pain and discomfort associated with autoimmune diseases.
  • Vitamin C – Our bodies require vitamin C for the maintenance and biosynthesis of collagen. Collagen is the main ingredient in our tendons, ligaments, skin and cartilage. Supplementing with Vitamin C will help maintain the collagen production in the tissues to help support joint health.
  • Curcumin Ultimate – This ultra-protective, anti-inflammatory antioxidant is one of the highest quality curcumin products on the market today. Curcumin Ultimate contains a unique combination of three bioactive, health-promoting forms of curcumin that are the strongest, most protective and best researched constituents of the turmeric root. This powerful antioxidant will also improve the health of your gut, liver and immune system.

3. Diet

Food is medicine. Strive to eat organic, whole foods whenever possible. An anti-inflammatory diet full of antioxidants, rich healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals will be your best line of defense to alleviate symptoms of stiff, achy joints. Consuming an abundance of these foods will strengthen your immune system and heal your body from the inside the out.

  • Avoid sugar and processed foods at all cost
  • Spices
    •  Ginger, turmeric and cumin
    • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
      • Wild-caught fatty fish, such as salmon
      • Nuts, walnuts
      • Chia and flax seeds
      • Oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
      • Bone Broth
        • Rich in calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium and naturally containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates
        • Fresh fruits and vegetables – these foods are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
          • Dark leafy greens
          • Beets
          • Berries

We believe that you can heal and protect your joints naturally, without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. If you continue to live an active life style, feed your body with fresh, whole foods and supplement with high quality supplements, you can attack inflammation at the source and prevent it from returning. This guide will help restore your immune system and get you back to enjoying the activities you love the most.