Dr. Mercola: Get Rid of Joint Pain with Exercise

Posted on February 1st, 2012 by author  |  14 Comments »

exercise may relieve joint painPeople who experience joint pain often avoid exercise because they believe that it will exacerbate the pain. But did you know that exercise may actually help alleviate this agonizing condition, while being sedentary can worsen it?

The Harvard Health Publications reports:

” … limiting your movements can weaken muscles, compounding joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a cascade of further problems. And while pain relievers and cold or hot packs may offer quick relief, fixes like these are merely temporary.

“The right set of exercises can be a long-lasting way to tame ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. Practiced regularly, joint pain relief workouts might permit you to postpone—or even avoid—surgery on a problem joint that has been worsening for years by strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility.” (link)

Dr. Joseph Mercola says: “Many people are under the impression that exercise is somehow dangerous for their joints, and joint pain is a condition that requires rest to recover … in reality, the opposite is true – exercise is essential for healthy joints and may even help to improve joint pain and function.”

In one study, it was revealed that people with rheumatoid arthritis – a condition that causes joint pain, stiffness, and deformities – improved their function by up to 30 percent and strength by 120 percent after doing weight training exercises for 24 weeks. (link)

Another study from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine revealed that over 40 percent of men and 56 percent of women with knee osteoarthritis were inactive. They do not engage in even one 10-minute period of moderate-to-vigorous activity all week. (link)

What Causes Joint Pain?

Joint pain affects as much as 30 percent of adults in the U.S. today. This condition causes stiffness, pain, and swelling that can be mild to completely debilitating. Knee pain is the most common type of joint pain, although finger, hip, and shoulder joint pain are also common. Joint pain stems from numerous causes, including injury, osteoarthritis, strain on the joint, poor posture, or repetitive movement.

Aging is also another risk factor for joint pain. As you age, the flexible tissues in your body become less elastic, causing muscle stiffness, sagging and wrinkles on your skin, and pain in your joints. This factor becomes worse when combined with inactivity. Being physically inactive promotes muscle weakness, loss of range of motion, and joint contractures.

Dr. Mercola warns that obesity also puts you at risk of joint pain. “Arthritis rates are more than twice as high in obese people as those who are normal weight, because the extra weight puts more pressure on your joints, as well as increases inflammation in your body. This can not only lead to osteoarthritis, it can also make joint pain from any cause exponentially worse,” he explains.

Exercise Tips for Joint Pain Relief

Dr. Mercola advises incorporating weight training, high-intensity cardio, stretching, and core work into your routine. He recommends Peak Fitness, an exercise program that can be used by virtually everyone.

If you’ve already developed osteoarthritis in your knee, you should incorporate exercises that strengthen the quadriceps muscle found at the front of your thigh. Instead of running or other high-impact exercise, opt for non-weight-bearing exercises, like swimming and bicycling.

However, remember that there are certain factors you need to consider before you start exercising, especially if the pain worsens with movement. This will prevent you from straining a significantly unstable joint. Pain during movement occurs when your bones come in contact with each other as cartilage and synovial fluid is reduced.

If you feel pain longer than an hour after exercising, you may need to slow down or choose another type of exercise. Use assistive devices to decrease the pressure on your joints during your workout. It’s also a good idea to work with a physical therapist or hire a qualified personal trainer.

Try These Effective Natural Joint Paint Remedies

Dr. Joe Mercola advises avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs like analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to alleviate joint pain, because they may lead to serious side effects, including kidney and/or liver damage. Instead, he recommends natural joint pain relievers like:

  • Eggshell membrane – It contains elastin and collagen, proteins that promote cartilage health and connective tissue strength and elasticity. It also has growth factor-B, a protein that supports tissue rejuvenation, along with other amino acids and structural components that support the stability and flexibility of your joints.
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA) – A key component of your cartilage, it works by moving nutrients into your cells and moving waste out. It also helps with water retention for your cells.
  • Boswellia (boswellin or “Indian frankincense”) – This Indian herb helps maintain a steady blood flow to your joints to promote flexibility and strength in your joint tissues.
  • Turmeric – The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow color, are just as effective as ibuprofen for relieving knee osteoarthritis pain.
  • Animal-based omega-3 fats – They help reduce inflammation. Use a high-quality, animal-based source, like krill oil.
  • Astaxanthin – This anti-inflammatory antioxidant affects a wide range of inflammation mediators, but without any negative side effects.

Dr. Mercola also recommends getting enough vitamin D. Cartilage loss in your knees, one of the symptoms of osteoarthritis, is associated with low vitamin D levels. If you are plagued with joint pain due to osteoarthritis, have your vitamin D levels tested, and optimize them through safe sun exposure or with a safe tanning bed. If these options are not available, supplement with vitamin D3 instead.

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