Updated: Dec 30, 2020
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I have suffered nearly ten years of joint pain due to a congenital condition called hip dysplasia. This is where my hip sockets were not formed properly and because it wasn't discovered until I was an adult and amateur athlete and keen fitness fanatic, I became prone to labral tears in my hip joints. Later I have developed the onset of arthritis which can be very painful. Therefore keeping inflammation down as well as my weight could mean the difference between having a good day or a debilitating one. So over the years, I have carefully researched and gathered information from scientists and top health experts to help me understand the dos and don’ts to an ant-inflammatory protocol which I would like to share with you as joint pain and soreness can strike at any time whether through injury or wear and tear fit or unfit.
Just to be clear I do not make any claims that the following will treat or cure any conditions as I am not a doctor. However, I hope they may help in some way. If you are not sure if you should be taking any of the supplements or doing any of these suggestions then it is imperative that you ask your GP or Consultant first.
When you're in pain usually the last thing you would think about doing is exercise, however moderate strengthening exercises, gentle stretching and slow movements like yoga or Tai Chi can help relieve the joint pain through helping to lubricate and nourish the joint surfaces as well as support the stability of the joint if the surrounding muscles are strengthened.
Swimming or the use of a hydrotherapy pool is an excellent activity for increasing all round fitness as well as other low impact activities like cycling. Keeping active will ensure you keep off the extra pounds so the added weight does not put added pressure on the joints
Foam rollers are a fantastic tool for use prior to exercise which will help smooth out any sticky fascia or knots to help the muscles to work smoothly. Go gently on these at first and choose a smooth foam roller if you are a beginner to using them. I can include a foam roller tutorial to help you learn the correct technique when you sign up for one of my Personal Training Packages.
Magnesium salt bath, most people will reach for the Epsom salts or magnesium sulphate. Magnesium Chloride flakes have been shown in studies to be better for muscle recovery and absorption.
A quick cold shower after the hot bath can also help in terms of reducing inflammation, increasing circulation and cool the body temperature down ready for sleep. Alternatively use ice packs on the sore muscles.
Natural anti-inflammatory foods:- Pineapple is rich in a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain, it produces substances which fight pain and inflammation, this can be found in doses of Reference(1) -160mg per day but for most injuries and conditions a supplement of 750 - 1,000mg spread throughout the day between meals have seen the most benefits. Another great source of proteolytic enzymes is found in papaya, known as papain. These enzymes are great for breaking down a protein called fibrinogen which is a sticky substance which can cling to your joints and prevent movement without pain. Getting rid of Fibrinogen using proteolytic enzymes which break it down can help fight the pain and inflammation which in turn will help you to get moving again.
Blue, red and purple fruit and veg, as they contain an antioxidant flavonoid that limits inflammation and improves circulation.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols which have shown to help relieve pain from osteoarthritis. Try having a lemon and ginger tea late afternoon as a gentle pick me up instead of another coffee or black tea.
Lots of filtered water to flush out the metabolites and if you want to go one step further try Hydrogen-rich water for recovery.
Adequate sleep will ensure the nervous system and body recovers and repairs fully. Also, the pain feels a lot worse when we are tired. see my article on Improving Sleep.
Essential Amino Acids or EAAS, these are known to decrease inflammatory markers and can be found in foods such as meat, fish poultry and the best source is eggs. EAAs would be a better option than taking Branched- Chain Amino acids usually favoured by bodybuilders, particularly when exercise is restricted due to injury. This is because they help maintain the bodies lean muscle tissue and help prevent muscle wastage or atrophy. Reference (2)
Include plenty of wild salmon, mackerel and sardines with bones in your diet or if you don't like eating fish supplement with Fish oil, ideally finding near a 1:1 DHA to EPA ratio which is closer to the ratio found in its natural state(2). For better absorption make sure it is in its natural triglyceride form and it should also contain antioxidants and vitamin E which preserve the purity of the fish oil and prevent it from becoming rancid which could even make your joint pain worse. - Reference (2)
Lately, I have discovered Green Lipped mussel extract to be very effective for building up joint cartilage but my lifeline is boiling up the bones of my leftover Sunday roast chicken to make collagen packed bone broth. I scoop a big tablespoon of the jellied broth straight from my fridge into a cup of boiling water, add salt and pepper to make a soothing and satiating afternoon drink. You can even add half a cup to a smoothie with dark red berries and /or a good quality vitamin C powder to enhance the collagen uptake.
High dose vitamin C. can help with the formation of collagen and connective tissue which declines as we age. The maximum tolerated dose is 2g per day according to(3) "The Oxford Academic" Advances in Nutrition Journal " Here it mentions about medical reasons for not taking too much vitamin c such as being susceptible to kidney stones and sensitivity to Iron overload. Some people need less vitamin C than others.
Curcumin derived from turmeric and is superb for keeping inflammation down and even more effective if taken with black pepper. Try making a turmeric latte for a comforting bedtime drink, including ginger, Ceylon cinnamon and black pepper mixed in warm milk of your choice with a dash of vanilla essence.
Consider the benefits of inversion. I use an inversion table and although I am competent in doing yoga headstands, the traction on the joints really helps to relieve my hip pain. Using an inversion table is great for those who do not have the upper body strength to hold a headstand and is very stress relieving as there is no strain on the shoulders. The other benefits include back pain relief as the spine lengthens and creates space between the discs in the vertebrae potentially relieving nerve pain. The blood can flow freely relieving tired, heavy legs and if you have been standing all day and there is good evidence that it can support lymphatic drainage which is important for removing cellular waste and a healthy immune system. Please check with your GP before using an inversion table as there are some contraindications for going upside down such as high blood pressure. detached retina and glaucoma.
I have a pretty basic old version table, however, there are many to choose from with different support systems for your neck or lumbar. here is a link to a versatile and safe to use inversion table .
Avoid NAIDS or ibuprofen unless there are specifically prescribed by your GP as they prevent your body from producing prostaglandins which protect the stomach lining, so not a good option for long term use.
Avoid vegetable oils, seeds, nuts and nut butter which can produce eicosanoids which are pro-inflammatory.
It is important to know your bio-markers and find out which minerals and vitamins you are sufficient or insufficient in, otherwise, there could be a risk of overdosing on certain supplements. So don't take any supplements if you are unsure as to whether you already have sufficient quantities in your diet. Ther are a number of companies who will test these via blood or stool samples.
Avoid sugar, coffee and acid-forming foods which can cause inflammation.
Never foam roll over your joints, instead consider acupuncture or trigger point therapy for these areas. but be sure to seek guidance from a qualified Personal Trainer, Physiotherapist or Trigger point therapist to ensure these techniques are done correctly.
Avoid running and high impact activities until the pain and inflammation settle and make sure your muscles are strong enough to sustain any high impact or plyometric activities by performing a strength training protocol for a good six to eight weeks at least or it could even take 6 months to a year depending on your strength test. It is advisable to seek guidance from a reputable trainer who understands re-habilitation and pain management. Go to my booking page to book online using discount code BLOG20 for 20% off ! a Zoom video consultation to discuss how to develop a strength training program or yoga program tailored to you.
There are many other ways to help manage pain and inflammation from Infrared Saunas to inversion tables and sleeping on bio-mats. I have even had stem cell injections which healed the cartilage in one of my hip joints and has been pain-free for 8 years now! Stem cells need to be injected early on before arthritis reaches grade 3 or 4 as this proved to be the case with my other hip which has not worked very well with the arthroscopy and stem cell treatment. I hope my article gives you some help in relieving your pain and speeding up your recovery. However, if you would like to delve further into this subject I would highly recommend reading Chapter 12 of "Boundless Book " by Ben Greenfield. Click on the reference below to purchase from Amazon.
(2) Boundless Book -Ben Greenfield Chapter 12 P260; p251