Summertime allows us to relax, unwind and finally enjoy all the perks of warm weather. But, for those with arthritis, osteoporosis or joint pain, the thought of participating in outdoor activities can be daunting.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. For people who are tempted to stay indoors because of bone or joint pain, there are basic steps to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve overall health and well-being.
First, decrease the stress. We now know just how devastating stress is to the entire body. Not only can stress intensify bone and joint pain, but it weakens the body’s adrenal response over time, contributing to osteoporosis and inflammation. There are a variety of helpful ways to reduce stress and calm the body, including meditation, psychotherapy and massage. Additionally, you can create a daily period of relaxation. Spend thirty minutes a day doing something you love, whether that’s reading, listening to music or doing a puzzle.
Second, having the proper diet is key. Refined white flour and sugar cause inflammation in the body and disrupt the natural flora in the gut. Over time inflammation can lead to illness, including heart disease and cancer. Soda is another prime offender and can damage bones by pulling out calcium. Whole grains, omega 3s (found most often in non-farm raised fish), avocado, and nuts can help strengthen bones, in addition to dairy products and other forms of calcium and protein.
Third, there are supplements to help reduce inflammation and strengthen bones and joints. Calcium, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, magnesium, and fish oil all have tremendous benefits and should be evaluated. It should be noted to always check with a medical practitioner before taking a vitamin or supplement. There are also herbal supplements and creams that can safely reduce inflammation.
When taking calcium and other supplements, it’s also important to select the right form. Calcium carbonate may not be as effective as other types of calcium. Magnesium should be taken with calcium to ensure that it is properly absorbed in the body. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.
As you begin to embrace a healthier lifestyle, and reduce pain and inflammation, there is one final component to consider. By gradually increasing physical activity, you will become more mobile and agile.
Start small and don’t overdo it. Light weightlifting can be helpful to build bone density and increase strength. For individuals who find walking and other exercises to be too painful, consider buying a mini-trampoline, and while seated, simply bounce up and down. This will increase circulation and agility. There are also basic and passive range-of-motion exercises that will allow you to start off slow.
If exercise causes pain or soreness, it’s important not to stop. By continuing to exercise and expand your range-of-motion you will reduce stiffness and enhance your agility.
For younger people who are looking to prevent arthritis and osteoporosis, now is the time to take proactive steps toward a healthier lifestyle by eating better, reducing stress and increasing physical activity.
A powerful mantra for maintaining healthy bones and joints is to either use it or lose it. Diet and supplements alone will not build healthy bones or increase agility.
A diagnosis of osteoporosis or arthritis should never be a cause for reducing physical activity. Instead, it’s a call to get active and give your body what it deserves.
Steve Bernardi is a registered compounding pharmacist and co-owner of Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center in Waltham.