4 Causes and Fixes for Joint Pain
Joint pain can plague even the best of us, and in some cases, can prove to be downright debilitating. These chronic disabling cases are generally the most severe, but nonetheless, even mild joint pain can hold you back from achieving the results you desire from all of your hard work with your training and nutrition program.
You don’t have to be an athlete to suffer from joint pain. Heck, you don’t even have to be “old” (that’s going to get me in a lot of trouble) to feel aches and pains in various joints throughout your body. In this article, we want to help educate you on the reasons why you might be facing joint pain, so that you can better diagnose the underlying issues and address them before the problem worsens.
The goal is to eliminate these causes, and ultimately the pain that is holding you back from achieving your desired goals. Furthermore, if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with healthy joints, this article will also help you make some changes to your lifestyle in order to better maintain proper joint health in the long-term.
CAUSE #1 LACK OF FLUID AT THE JOINT
Everyone has what is called synovial fluid in their joints—a clear, lubricative liquid that prevents our bones from rubbing together when we move. When this liquid decreases over time, however, a critical issue begins to arise—joint pain. As the volume of synovial fluid decreases, the cartilage in our joints begins to grind and wear down, often resulting in severe pain. In many cases this wear can easily be reversed, however surgery and/or injections may be necessary for more chronic situations.
With that being said, there’s quite a simple fix when it comes to maintaining proper joint health, AND it’s something we should be doing regularly anyways—drink more water!
DRINKING MORE WATER. It’s such a simple concept, but if you are exercising regularly or spend any amount of time out in the heat, you’re going to need to replace the lost fluids from your body. Your body’s sweat glands help naturally cool the body through perspiration. However, if you don’t replace these lost fluids, over time it can lead to a reduction of synovial fluid in your joints.
CAUSE #2: OVERUSE OF JOINT CAUSING INFLAMMATION
It’s no secret that most of us demand a lot from our bodies; and if you’re an athlete or exercise regularly, chances are you are putting far more wear and tear on your body than the average sedentary individual. Now that’s not to say that we recommend that you turn into a full-blown couch potato and start binge-watching Netflix series, but know that you’re going to have to show your body and joints a little extra love to keep them healthy and functioning properly.
Any time we perform the same movement day in and day out, our joints become more susceptible to overuse injuries which often cause an inflammatory response. When this inflammation occurs, we begin to feel aches and pains in our joints—alerting us that something isn’t right. Take a baseball catcher for instance. The constant crouching down and popping-back-up motion of baseball catchers can wreak havoc on the knees over time. It’s for that reason that you see so many catchers claiming to have bad knees while playing, and even plaguing them throughout retirement.
Sometimes simply resting and allowing your body some time to recover is all the joint needs to improve and return back to its normal state. If the joint does not heal on itself; however, you’re going to need to nurse it back to health through consuming foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect, such as healthy fats, green leafy vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and tomatoes.
You can even take an extra step in prevention of joint deterioration by adding an essential fatty acid supplement to your daily regimen. An EFA supplement generally consists of an efficacious blend of Omega 3,6, and 9 fatty acids, and sometimes a Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) derived from sunflower seed oil.
You should also consider trying to lower your stress levels! Stress doesn’t allow your body to effectively respond to inflammation, and as a result, joints can become further inflamed leading to unnecessary pain. If you enjoy meditation, consider utilizing that strategy, or finding another similar method to decompress at the end of each day.
CAUSE #3: FATHER TIME IS CATCHING UP WITH YOU
Whether we want to admit it or not, eventually at some point Father Time catches up with us all. We bob and weave the inevitable for as long as we can, but in the end, he pays each and every one of us a visit! Similar to the overuse discussed above, over time our bodies begin to age and naturally break down. Our cartilage breaks down, bones start rubbing, aches and pains creep in to cause joint pain, and we become accustomed with the “stiffness” of old age. We get up and try to move around all the same, however, it’s incredibly hard to ignore that creaky knee or elbow that just a few years before moved effortlessly.
To start, you need to warm up properly before doing any kind of physical activity—whether it be in the gym or on the playing field. A nice and easy five to ten-minute walk is all you need to get your blood pumping, muscles loose, and joints lubricated and ready to do work.
Similar to number 2, you should also start looking to make changes to your nutrition as well. Adding healthy fats to your diet, along with green leafy vegetables can naturally keep both your joints and body healthy.
There are also joint supplements available that help treat and prevent joint pain that you should definitely consider. In particular, when vetting a new joint supplement you should look for the following ingredients: glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and gelatin. If you can find an all-inclusive supplement that contains most, if not all of those ingredients, that is by far your best bet for the long term. Check out ElastiJoint which has all these ingredients in efficacious amounts in one daily scoop.
Additionally, you should also plan on getting enough rest every night for your body to properly recover. When the body doesn’t have enough time to recover from all of the stress we put it under, a detrimental compounding effect occurs, ultimately causing even further deterioration of the body.
CAUSE #4: IMBALANCES WITH YOUR MUSCLES
The forces and demands we put on our body are extremely taxing. Yet, we continue to do them in order to build strength, promote healthy bones, and help us achieve longevity as we age. In particular, a crucial issue arises when muscle imbalances occur in the body. When one muscle is stronger than another, we tend to overcompensate the weaker muscle through our exercises, which often leads to joint pain or even injury.
In short, we have agonist and antagonist muscle groups that work oppositely of each other. Take the bicep and tricep muscles for instance. Picture yourself doing bicep curls—as you curl the weight up, the bicep contracts while your tricep relaxes. As you lower the weight back down, you can feel more of the triceps come into play as the bicep slowly relaxes before initiating the same curl motion again.
Ideally, you want both groups of muscles to be equally strong so that they can work in unison without the imbalance of one muscle working harder than the other.
Make sure that you work all of the muscle groups equally! Skipping a muscle group can form imbalances in your exercise movements, which usually leads to joint deterioration and pain. If you discover that you have an imbalance in one of your muscle groups, focus on it and pay extra attention to bring it up to par with the opposing muscle group. Depending on the severity of the imbalance, physical therapy may be recommended to correct the issue.
Matt Weik is the Owner of Weik Fitness, LLC and is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. His work has been featured in over 85 fitness magazines and over 2,000 websites. Learn more or contact him at weikfitness.com