Throughout our lives we will experience aches and pains; an over energetic session in the bedroom or too many hours spent bopping away on 4 inch heels but, as we get older, we may notice that they occur more frequently and with seemingly less cause. We will have wear an tear on our joints after years of use or it may be that we have a touch of arthritis which causes stiffness, joint pain and inflammation. Fortunately there are a few things we can do to keep our joints well oiled and moving freely.
If we are carrying extra weight, that can exacerbate the problem as we will be putting strain on already stressed joints so maintaining a healthy weight is really important but as well as thinking about how much we put into our bodies, we also need to think about what we put in. You know that if you don’t change the oil in your car or try to run it without fuel it’s really not going to do it a lot of good and, sooner or later, the engine will just pack up; our bodies are the most sophisticated machine on the planet so we need to make sure that we are running them on exactly the right kind of fuel.
Omega 3 foods are great at reducing inflammation so try introducing some of these foods into your diet:
Walnuts, oily fish such as salmon and flax seeds (which you can add to cereal) are all great sources.
Also make sure that you eat plenty of anti-oxidant foods; load up on fruit and veggies and try to stay away from foods that will make matters worse such as those containing a lot of sugar and anything that’s refined or processed – fresh and natural is really the best way forward.
If we are suffering from aches and pains, we may be tempted to spend the day in bed or in a chair in front of the television but that may be the worst thing that we can do. We need to make sure that we keep our bodies moving to try and increase our muscle strength and our flexibility and also to take our minds off the discomfort that we may be feeling. If our minds aren’t distracted and we focus on the pain, we will become tense and anxious which will only make the pain worse. Think about it, if you had a bad headache and then someone came rushing in and told you that you’d won the lottery, how long do you think the headache would last? You probably wouldn’t give it another thought would you?
Gentle walking and swimming will get your blood circulating and your joints moving and over time you can speed up and increase distances, all the while increasing your fitness levels and improving your muscle tone. You can also think about exercises that will increase your flexibility:
The stretches that form part of both yoga and Pilates are really great for loosening off those muscles and joints and the poses will help to build strength. As with any new exercise, find a really good teacher and, if you have any health concerns at all, check with your doctor before signing up.
There are also some roots, herbs and spices that you could consider.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can work wonders for those suffering from arthritis. Try adding a few slices of raw ginger to hot water to make a tea or use in cooking to spice up your evening meal.
Turmeric contains curcumin which is claimed to reduce inflammation, pain and joint stiffness. You can use in cooking but you can also buy as a supplement in capsule form from any good health food shop. (If your skin could do with a boost you can also use it, mixed with yoghurt, as a great facepack!)
You can also try burdock root, liquorice and nettles and try replacing your normal brew with a cup of green tea every day and see what a difference that can make to you.
We all might get a little stiffer with age but that doesn’t mean we can’t carry on with our lives or that we have to stop looking after our bodies. As Ian McKellan said: “I am lucky, I don’t have aches and pains. I do Pilates regularly, which is a series of stretching exercises, and I recommend it to anyone of my age because the temptation is not to exercise when you get older. Well, you should”