Brace Yourself: The Meta Mavens' Wrap Up on Healthy Joint Care
Sooo, if you’ve found herself here on the Meta-fy blog there’s a pretty good chance that you’re either pretty active, trying to become active, or just really like thinking about being active. And, if you’re out and about, sprinting, jumping, planting, lifting, stretching and generally making moves, sometimes our bodies get pushed a little too far -- we get strained, parts of our bodies get straight dislocated, and injuries just happen.
I’ve been playing basketball and soccer for my whole life (about 26 years) and I’ve sprained both my ankles too many times to count, torn two ACLs, one MCL, and a meniscus (thank Zeus my upper body’s been more or less untouched by my athletic escapades). Knowing this, I’ve been on the hunt for any way I can limit the inevitable breakdown of the cartilage in my joints, or really anything that’ll help me feel a little less creaky, just so that I can stay as active as I’d like for as long as I’d like.
That said, I’ve come across a few strategies, supplements, and equipments that have helped me feel like a well-oiled machine recently, and that I’d like to pass onto you, whether you’re a fellow formerly-injured person, or just a somebody who’d like to keep that athletic lifestyle rolling into those silver years.
1. Quick Lifestyle Tips:
Maintain a healthy weight
Apart from all the other health benefits being at a healthy weight provides, if your joints are carrying a little less you around, it’s a no-brainer they’re not going to be strained as much. Obviously, losing weight, and even staying at a healthy weight, is a lot easier said than done, and I’m not going to be able to offer any other prescription than to find something that works for you, and sticking to it (but for me it’s Intermittent Fasting that does the trick).
Unglue Yourself from Your Seat
Whether it’s sitting at your desk at the office trying to get in reading another couple Bladerunner 2049 reviews, or sinking into that sofa at your domicile while you decide to throw on another episode of Chopped, when our bodies are at rest, they tend to stay that way. But, if you can muster up the get-up-and-go required to do a quick lap around your apartment, or past that water-cooler, it’ll get the blood flowing to those joints, and maybe they’ll stop making sounds like a bag of microwave popcorn entering its last five seconds.
Stretch AFTER a Light Warm-up
If our gym teachers were able to instill anything in us after all those years of physical education, it was probably the importance of stretching. However, as it turns out, stretching before getting a bit of a warm-up could do more harm than good. So yeah, do a little jog, or a couple jumping jacks before getting down and counting, and your joints will feel supple-r than a pool noodle.
Stick to low-impact exercise
If you’re a runner, you’re probably going to run. If you play basketball, you’re probably going to keep playing basketball. But, if you’re real real committed to staying lithe as when you were a lot littler, you’ll definitely want to invest some of your time in low-impact athletics. Activities like yoga, swimming, elliptical-ing, and just walking a little faster, are all ways you can get that heart going without stressing those tender tendons by subjecting it to hard foot-falls.
Make the Surrounding Muscles Stronger
Having been in and out of physical therapy a couple times for my knees, I’ve learned a couple things. First, electrode therapy is awesome, annnnnnddd, the only way you can fully recover from a major injury to a joint as crucial as your knee is if you work really really really freaking hard to get your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles stronger. In fact, if you get them strong enough, you don’t even need ACLs (or whatever tendon they use as a graft). Former starting center in the NBA and very tough cookie, Dejuan Blair, actually doesn’t have ligaments to speak of, they’re just not there, and he’s played professional basketball for almost a decade.
2. Diet advice:
Though everybody’s different, and every body is too, it’s generally advised for folks with swelling joints, tired tendons, and leggy ligaments to consume foods that are anti-inflammatory. I’ll let you all investigate which of those types of food items work for you, but a diet high in fiber, high in vegetable servings, and is well-spiced with flavors like clove, turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, and the like will serve you well. At the same time, it’s probably a good idea to keep processed sugar on that low low low, and low quality meats at the same. This is a very good article about just this diet.
3. Supplements to experiment with:
Glucosamine: This stuff isn’t naturally found in too many food sources (unless you’re real keen on eating shellfish shells), but it is naturally-occurring in our bodies. As our bodies get older, they basically get worse and worse at producing and maintaining what we need to keep our joints healthy, and from making noises that scare people. Glucosamine is alleged to be best at promoting the health of our cartilage, the stuff our noses are made of, and also the stuff that keeps the bones in our knees from rubbing up against each other. Do your research to tell if this is the kind of supplement you should be spending your money on, and exercise a little caution if you’re allergic to certain seafoods because it is often extracted from the aforementioned shells.
Collagen: We’ve already tackled a little bit about what this particular variety of protein can do in a previous blog post, and why it’s so significant to the multifarious functions of a healthy body, but collagen is so groovy, I thought I’d throw it a mensch here too because it is relevant, and it’s awesome. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our human bodies, and it essentially functions to help hold us together like a kind of glue. Though there are more than two dozen varieties of collagen, more than 90% of the collagen in us is one of three types, (conveniently enough called Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 collagen). Type 1 and 3 are the kind that contributes to the health of our hair, skin, and nails, whereas Type 2 is associated with what’s inside our bodies and inside our joints. So, for the purposes of this article, dive into some research on Type 2 collagen, already numerous studies have shown its efficacy in treating joint pain, and research is still pretty fledgling.
You may have seen this stuff be-decking Olympic athletes, NBA players, or tennis pros, and it does a lot more than just say to your opponent, “I know what I’m doing, and I look better than you doing it.” Kinesiology tape was invented way back in the 1970s by a guy named Kenzo Kase, and it operates on principles antithetical to your usual braces and sleeves. Instead of restricting the movement of a joint, what Kinesiology tape does is stretch your skin so that the joint actually moves more freely. As a result, our lymphatic and blood circulation is improved slightly, but significantly enough to reduce swelling, and to keep you on your feet. This stuff has been booming in the past couple years, and barbend.com has a terrific article on what brand of tape is best for whatever activity you’re about, go give it a read!