Attention Weekend Warriors: How to Get Fit not Hurt!

There’s no doubt that exercise is a good way to get fit, but sometimes we end up being weekend warriors, trying to cram too much at one time into our weekends and overdo it. Overdoing sports, exercise or strenuous labor can cause cartilage found around joints to break down which can result in stiff joints, inflammation and swelling. Besides overuse or an injury, sore joints can be caused by inflammation from damage caused by free radicals in your body. Free radicals result from conditions such as stress, heavy exercise, overwork, poor nutrition, and environmental toxicity. Inflammation is the body’s response to foreign invaders, irritation or injury and causes redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. Sometimes the body attacks itself with inflammation even when there are no foreign substances. Certain types of arthritis are good examples of the body misinterpreting the need for its defensive action.  These types of arthritis are called autoimmune diseases, in which the body’s normal immune system attacks and damages its own tissues. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are both common types of arthritis that can occur. For us weekend warriors, gardeners and sports enthusiasts it is important to keep joints healthy and know how to support joint health and avoid injury. One important way to protect joints is to have the right safety equipment like knee and elbow pads. Another way is to know safe exercises that support joint health.

Don’t wait for the weekend to get in all your exercise. Joints need to move throughout the week to stay flexible. Just doing some stretching and moving a few times during the week will help a lot. Be sure not to do stretching when your muscles are cold though. Joints, ligaments and tendons need to have some warm up exercises before being stretched to loosen them up. Muscle building exercises will also help support joint health. The stronger the muscles around the joints are the more stress they can relieve from the joints. Exercises that require you to pull something down from above to behind the head can cause injury to shoulders, the spine or neck and those that require you to pull a weight straight up to under the chin in certain positions can cause shoulder and nerve damage. When taking up a new exercise program or using exercise equipment for the first time, check with a trainer or someone with expertise in exercise to make sure you are doing or using them safely. There are usually safe alternatives that will exercise the same muscles if you just seek them out. Be sure you have the right shoes for the activity you are doing too. Joint injuries such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis can occur just from the stress put on them by doing an activity with the wrong foot support. Experts suggest buying shoes from a specialty store where you can get advice from salespeople trained to help you select the proper footwear for various activities. And when shoes start wearing out, it is important to get them replaced so they are in good shape to lend the support they were designed for.

Nutrition for Joint Health

When it comes to inflammation, your diet is important. Processed foods, junk food, fast food, foods with refined sugars, and starchy simple carbs can all lead to inflammation in the body. These types of foods also lend themselves to fat storage instead of the body burning them off for fuel.

Eating a well-balanced healthy diet is important for building strong muscle and bone which in turn supports joint health. Muscles need protein to stay strong which means making sure you have lean protein foods such as white meat chicken, beans, legumes, soy, seafood and nuts in your diet. Your diet also needs to include those foods that produce strong bones. That means making sure you are getting the right amount of calcium. Good food sources for calcium include milk products, broccoli, kale, figs, and fortified cereals. The calcium won’t help you though if you don’t get the right amount of Vitamin D to help your body absorb it. Some research has also shown that Vitamin D supports joint health by helping to reduce inflammation in joints. Our bodies create Vitamin D mainly from our exposure to sunshine so getting outdoors a little bit every day is important. If you are unable to do this, a Vitamin D supplement may be required. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider to see if this type of supplement is right for you. You can get Vitamin D from some foods such as dairy products, and fortified cereals or soy and almond milk. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to not only support heart and brain health, but to be useful for reducing inflammation and support joint health. Coldwater fish like cod, mackerel and salmon, olive oil, nuts, seeds and AFA bluegreen algae are all good sources for omega-3’s. Antioxidants are another important part of a healthy diet that can help with joint health as they help repair the damage done to the body by free radicals. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are the best way to get antioxidants into your diet.

Alternative Solutions for Joint Health

Glucosamine is naturally found in cartilage around joints. There have been studies reporting that supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin can relieve joint pain. You can get glucosamine and chondroitin as well as undenatured collagen, and all the superfood nutrition of organic AFA bluegreen algae in this joint support supplement. Another supplement with the wholefood nutrition that is known to support recovery from physical exertion and lower risks of inflammation is this enzyme algae supplement. It gives you a combination of plant-based proteolytic enzymes–bromelain, papain, protease, lipase, and serratiopeptidase, and organic AFA bluegreen algae. SAMe is another supplement that has research to back it up as being able to relieve pain from inflammation. Some studies have even reported this supplement to work better than certain anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving the pain of osteoarthritis. If you are on medications already, be sure to check with your healthcare provider to make sure particular supplements are safe for you. Acupuncture is another natural alternative for pain control that many people find preferable to supplements. 

Don’t’ give up your weekend activities because of joint pain or muscle soreness. Just start paying attention to how you can support your joints by eating the right foods and doing the right exercises throughout your week. Making these few simple changes to your lifestyle will keep you active and enjoying your weekends for years to come.

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Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius


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