For athletes looking to stay active and competitive well into old age, joint health is a key factor. Joints have the potential to deteriorate over time due to wear and tear, but there are steps you can take to minimize this and ensure your joints remain healthy and strong. To help you out, we’ve compiled seven effective joint tips for lifelong athletes.
Joint discomfort impacts millions of people in the United States and abroad. Chronic joint stiffness and achiness can become debilitating, mainly when it results in fatigue, weakness, and lack of range of motion.
For the lifelong athlete, a lack of movement translates to a lack of play, fun, and well-being.
Aging is an inevitable process, but there are strategies and daily habits that can help you manage and support your joints and the quality of life you want.
If you’re a lifelong athlete, check out the joint tips below and see which combinations might offer you the best results.
Tip #1 – Add Some Low-Impact Exercise to Your Day
This may seem counterintuitive since joint discomfort typically keeps you from being active, but gentle, low-intensity activities often have a calmative effect on your mind and joints.
In fact, one group of researchers provide an excellent overview of over 400 combined reviews and clinical studies that included 37,000 people with chronic joint conditions and their results with physical activity and exercise.
Other benefits of low-impact exercise include:
- Improved range of motion
- Increased energy levels
- Better mood
- Improved health status
- Increased flexibility
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
Low-impact exercise is a safe, natural way to improve blood circulation. Choosing gentle activities that are different from your main sport gives your body a chance to move differently and is less likely to contribute to the wear and tear that comes from repetitive and constant movements you’re used to making.
Yoga, Tai Chi, swimming, walking, and water aerobics are also excellent choices to start.
Remember the slogan: “motion is lotion.”
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Tip #2 – Relax with a Massage
Instead of reaching for painkillers, one study reported that patients with limiting joint conditions preferred alternative treatment methods like massage therapy.
If professional massages aren’t in your price range or you don’t have time to fit one into your busy schedule, self-massage techniques are helpful too.
Tip #3 – Try Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy, commonly known as pool therapy or hydrotherapy, is often used when joints are sensitive to weight-bearing or jarring movements.
Typically, water is hotter than a recreational pool and, since the water surrounds all of your joints, it makes it more effective than using a hot pack.
Physical therapists are the kind of healthcare professionals that guide you through an aquatic therapy session.
An alternative to scheduling a session with a therapist is simply relaxing in a hot bath at home!
Tip #4 – Cut Out the Foods that don’t Support Bone and Joint Health
If you’re an athlete, chances are you know that what you eat impacts how you feel.
Not only does a healthy diet help to maintain a desirable weight, but it also affects the level of oxidative stress that occurs within your body.
Certain foods can elicit a hyperactive immune response which affects the efficiency and durability of cells in your joints. Avoiding foods like alcohol, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, coffee, gluten, MSG, processed foods, refined cereals, saturated fat, sugar, and trans fats, can help reduce this hyperactivity.
On the other hand, there are foods that contain antioxidants that help your body fight oxidative stress naturally. Some foods include bone broth, ginger, green vegetables, seafood, turmeric, and yogurt.
Tip #5 –Daily Relaxation
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation, can be a quick remedy to tense joints.
Relaxation is known for alleviating stress and reducing muscle tension. The best part is that meditation sessions can be as long or as short as you want, and there are numerous smartphone apps available to get you started.
Tip #6 – Consider Probiotics
Within the past few years, researchers have learned a lot about probiotics and their importance for digestive health and the immune system. There’s evidence indicating probiotic use may also help reduce markers associated with joint discomfort.
It turns out that the physiology behind an “upset stomach” or general GI distress and the toxins, waste, and germs included may leak into the bloodstream, triggering the spread of stress throughout the body and to the joints. Taking probiotics may reduce this cyclical response and, in turn, increase joint comfort.
Tip #7 – Get Your Omega-3s
Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet is one of the most important things you can do for your joints! These nutrients provide your cells with the support they need to keep your joints lubricated and smooth.
Eating fatty fish rich in omega-3s (i.e., catfish, char, halibut, herring, mackerel, oysters, trout, tuna) at least twice a week is recommended.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of our favorite things to talk about because of how integral they are in the human body and the good they do when consumed.
Check out a couple of our latest blogs about omega-3s below: