Strong and Supple Joints
How to Keep Hips and Knees Happy
by Ronica O'Hara
Occasional knee or hip pain affects almost everyone, keeping us from daily tasks, making sitting painful and walking difficult. Causes can range from over-exercise to injuries, obesity and arthritis as we age. By the time we reach 65 years or older, 69 percent of women and 56 percent of men have arthritic symptoms, according to Boston University researchers. Costly joint replacement surgery which carries a high risk of adverse effects is often recommended for advanced cases, but by taking simple, natural preventive and remedial measures proactively, we can strengthen our knee and hip joints, handle related problems if they arise and remain physically strong and active.
Ways to Strengthen Hips and Knees
Consume foods that nourish bones and connective tissues. For strong bones, eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium, such as dark leafy greens (bok choy, Chinese cabbage, kale and collard greens), figs, nuts, tofu, avocados and bone broth. Six prunes a day boosted bone density in women over 70 with osteoporosis, research shows. Foods that support flexible tendons and ligaments include fatty fish, lentils, nuts, vegetables like spinach and broccoli, and colorful fruit like strawberries and oranges.
Practice tai chi, qigong or hatha yoga. The gentle, low-impact movements and stretches associated with these approaches get synovial fluid flowing in the larger joints, effecting smoother mobility and increased flexibility; numerous studies document that they reduce joint pain and stiffness. “The key is not just to stretch, but to balance strength and stretching in a safe, mindful way,” says Andrea Trank, a health coach and yoga teacher in Fort Myers, Florida. Although personal or class instruction is best, how-to videos can be found on YouTube.
Walk every day. In a four-year Northwestern University study, people at risk of knee osteoarthritis that walked at a moderate or brisk pace for at least 10 minutes a day, one hour a week, had one-eighth the disabled mobility of those that walked less. Posture helps: Walking straight and tall while extending each leg back as far as it’ll go will “really let your glut muscles work,” advises chiropractor Aaron Rossi, of Marietta, Georgia—an important compensation for the time we sit with knees and hips flexed.
Ways to Lower Pain Levels
Consider the right supplements. Obtaining 1,000 milligrams daily of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D is essential for bone health, according to the National Institutes of Health; consider taking a supplement if the diet is not adequate. In addition, study-proven options that reduce joint pain in the knees and hips include glucosamine and chondroitin, S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) and avocado soybean unsaponifiable.
The benefits of bodywork. A massage can loosen up tight muscles and realign structural issues in the knees and hips while also lowering stress-producing cortisol and raising levels of pain-reducing serotonin. A study at Canada’s McMaster University found that massage works on the cellular level to reduce inflammation and promote the growth of new mitochondria in muscles. Useful styles are Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial release and shiatsu. Ask for references from friends, medical practitioners, fitness centers and natural health stores or find online a certified practitioner with at least 500 hours of training.
Try acupuncture. A new metastudy of 39 studies with 20,827 patients concluded that acupuncture effectively reduces pain for as long as 12 months, and the National Institutes of Health endorses it for knee pain. “It is believed to stimulate the nervous system and in turn, the way the brain registers pain signals,” says acupuncturist Daryl Thuroff, at the Yinova Center, in New York City. Find an acupuncturist at nccaom.org/find-a-practitioner-directory.
Consult a chiropractor. People with osteoarthritic knees that underwent two weeks of chiropractic knee adjustments had substantially less pain, better mobility and fewer grinding and clicking sensations in the knees, reported a study in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. In a small study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, four out of five patients with hip arthritis noticed improved symptoms after nine or fewer chiropractic treatments. Many chiropractors offer not only spinal adjustments, but also a range of treatments from exercises
Explore injection therapies. Known as regenerative medicine, these therapies use injections in the knee or hip to naturally stimulate the body to produce collagen and rejuvenate tissue. In a British Medical Bulletin meta-study, 82 percent of patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee were satisfied with prolotherapy, which uses dextrose injections. Platelet-rich plasma injections use centrifuged platelets from the patient’s body, and have been used by athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal to treat sports injuries.
Rolfing Structural Integration
Facilitated Stretching Helps Eliminate Symptoms
by Kathleen Strauch
Rolfing® Structural Integration (Rolfing S.I.) is a form of bodywork which addresses release and realignment of the connective tissue or fascia of the human body.
The"ten session series" of Rolfing is intended to address the complete body, but more than 20 years ago, Richard Rossiter, then a member of the Ida P. Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, accepted a challenge to develop a system of facilitated stretching that could be taught to workers in a factory. The goal was to avoid or even recover from “carpal tunnel syndrome” or other repetitive motion disorders.
Standard medical treatment involves shots to ease pain, splints to restrict motion or surgery to actually cut the tissue–which comprises the 'carpal tunnel.’ Because this structure is located at the wrist, cutting it can lead to scar tissue or weakness of grip.
The tissue that often restricts nerve impulses and tendon freedom is located further up the arm: at the fleshy part of the forearm; in the upper arm, either on the side of the bicep or the side of the triceps; or even higher, in the tissue of the pectoral muscles or the trapezius muscle at the top of the shoulder.
By working these specific areas with pressure, applied by the body worker or 'helper,' then calling for specific stretching actions by the client, symptoms can often be eliminated in one session.
Ideally, the client learns the areas to which pressure can be applied and the specific movements to release the restricted tissue and can call on a friend or even a child to apply pressure to be free of symptoms for another month or more.
Kathleen Strauch was certified in the Rolfing S.I. system in 1987 and has studied the Rossiter system since 1990. Strauch provides services at The Downing Clinic, 5715 Bella Rose, Suite 100, Clarkston, MI. For more information call 248-625-6677.
Feel the Burn
The Hidden Benefits of Proper Stretching
by Jason Eagle
Relieving pain and discomfort in a joint can be accomplished simply through stretching. Almost everyone knows they should stretch. But do you know how to stretch correctly?
If you're just going through the motions of stretching you're not really doing much. Correct stretching, actually stretches the tendon. Tendons are where the muscle connects to the bone. The tendon connection point will have a slight burning sensation. That slight burn means adhesions are being released like scar tissue. Scar tissue around the joint is very toxic. These toxins, need to be cleansed in order to relieve the joint pain. While proper stretching causes the "burn" be careful to not take it too far and tear.
When you stretch a joint deeply enough to pull on the bone, such as the thigh bone, you twist and squeeze it–which "pumps" bone marrow (this is where new cells are created). This helps "pump" red blood cells, carry more oxygen and white blood cells. These are your immune system's infection-fighting "Warriors!"
By stretching and twisting your bones, you cleanse the joints of toxins, pump the marrow and produce new, clean cells. It's like a new and improved immune system. This is the hidden benefit of stretching.
For those of you just beginning serious stretching, it's a good idea seek the guidance of a professional. Contact us for an appointment and we will help guide you through the correct stretching process.
Jason Eagle, QRA, LMT is a Quantum Reflex Analysis Practitioner and a Licensed Massage Therapist at Strategic Healing, LLC in Auburn Hills, MI. For more information call Eagle at 734-985-5891, or to view his videos, visit: StrategicHealing.us.