How Can You Help Prevent Arthritis?
You can help prevent arthritis by leading an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. This includes dietary interventions, avoiding toxins such as smoking, stretching, avoiding injury, and preventive medicine such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care.
Cut the Inflammation - here are many ways to cut inflammation. One of the best ways is dietary intervention. Using food as medicine is key for helping to reverse arthritis and improve joint health. While there's no diet that will completely solve or cure chronic joint pain, there are so many ways to design food habits around inflammatory nutrition to help lessen painful symptoms. The first step is to limit the 'junk' that can fuel inflammation such as processed foods and saturated fats, gluten grains, sugary snacks, and even fried food. Adding in foods like fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, dark berries, grass-fed meats, and fresh herbs like turmeric and ginger to your diet can help to decrease inflammation and ease joint pain.
Specific Exercises - Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise that has amazing physical and mental health benefits. Typically there is a sequence of movements that align with the breath. A recent study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology showed that Tai Chi can improve the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis as much as or more than standard physical therapy.
Weight Loss - being overweight or obese can exacerbate or cause arthritis. Increased load on each of these joints leads to an increase in wear and tear which leads to the joint breaking down quicker. Secondly, overweight and obese individuals also tend to not be as active as those who are a normal or 'healthy' weight which can lead to arthritis. Our joints are made with synovial fluid in them, which act as a lubricant, similar to the oil in your car. The joint needs to be moving so that the synovial fluid can circulate and lubricate the joint. When the joint is not moving often, the fluid turns more viscous and thick, thus losing its lubricating traits.
Turmeric - Turmeric is a natural and effective anti-inflammatory compound. This characteristic makes it effective in reducing chronic pain, mitigating joint pain, and helping to improve the quality of life for individuals with various forms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Turmeric makes a delicious tea with these added benefits. Turmeric is also known for its antioxidant potential. This characteristic enables it to fight free radicals and remove toxins from the body. Free radicals can damage our body's cells leading to various chronic conditions, including cancer. In this way turmeric can be effective in preventing or mitigating many of these illnesses. One cup of turmeric tea contains approximately 1 tsp of turmeric. Each teaspoon contains about 200 mg of turmeric and 400 to 600 mg is considered a safe dose. With this in mind turmeric and the fact that turmeric is absorbed best during a fasted state drinking 2-3 cups a day is ideal, before each meal.
Stay Strong - Keeping your muscles supple and strong around your joints can help 'reverse' the symptoms of arthritis. When your muscles are flexible, it increases the ability of the joint to move within the full range of motion. Movement helps the fluid in the joint move which nourishes the bone ends. When your muscles are strong, it reduces the amount of compression around the joint because strong muscles are able to absorb forces between the bones. People who are overweight, tight, and stiff are more at risk, especially if they also do high-intensity, highly repetitive exercises. There is also a genetic component to arthritis but typically, osteoarthritis is a wear and tear repetitive stress in the joint. The more you use your body, the more you can have wear and tear from repetitive and chronic use. But other factors like not staying strong in the individual muscles, not being flexible enough, and not stable around the joints can increase the risk for any damage in a joint. People can prevent arthritis by keeping their bodies strong by doing the appropriate strength and stability exercises and keeping their bodies flexible. Other strategies include proper nutrition and hydration, as well as other therapies like massage that helps to keep the soft tissues more supple and better able to perform.
Massage - When choosing a type of massage for arthritis, moderate pressure is key, because it stimulates pressure receptors under the skin that convey signals to the brain that alleviate pain and stress-reducing neurochemicals like serotonin.
Deep Tissue Massage focuses on manipulation of both top and deeper layers of muscles and tissues, often requiring intense, focused pressure by the therapist. Deep tissue massage is designed to address severe tension or pain in the muscles and connective tissues.
Stone Therapy Massage involves placing smooth, heated stones on your back as you lie on your stomach. The hot stones send soothing heat to the muscles and tissues, releasing tension and promoting relaxation. Other forms involve cold stones, which may help sore muscles from exercise-related injuries or swelling.
How Does Arthritis Develop?
Arthritis first develops when the cartilage or the protection between two bones in the joint starts to deteriorate. This continues to happen until the two bones that are forming the joint start to rub together since their cushion is now gone or compromised. This can continue to get more severe and the body lays down extra bone in the form of bone spurs to try to repair the area. These typically can cause further pain and disability.
There are several different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In regard to rheumatoid arthritis, it develops when your immune system begins to attack your joints, leading to pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis develops after normal wear and tear on joints occurs resulting in gradual deterioration of the cartilage in the joint space.
Vicki Taylor - Massage & Beauty Therapist
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