Archive for the ‘joint pain’ Category

If you think drinking 3 glasses of milk a day or eating your morning yogurt will prevent, cure, or treat osteoporosis, think again. There are so many other factors to consider. First, let’s discuss the common causes of osteoporosis:

1) Genetic history – Did you inherit weaker bones from your parents? Some studies estimate that 80% of our skeletal strength comes from our parents.

2) Vitamin and mineral deficiency – not just calcium but many others play a role in the whole process of bone health.

3) Soda consumption (even diet) – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consume just one soda daily have 5-7% less bone material than women who limit soda to just once a month.

4) Lack of fruits and veggies – a wide array of rich nutrients buffer the breakdown of bone. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that post-menopausal women who ate 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily were between 200-400% better in terms of their bone mineral density loss.

5) Lack of weight-bearing exercise – technology has impacted how much we sit.

How much calcium do you need? Most recommendations say for women ages 19-50 about 1000 mg/per day. For 50 + or post-menopause, 1200 mg/per day. But, like I said earlier, it is not that simple. The vast majority of the world population consumes much less calcium than we do in the US and have less cases of osteoporosis.

Too much calcium can actually inhibit the absorption of another key mineral the body needs for bone health, magnesium. Magnesium aids in bone formation and helps regulate calcium transfer as well. Most of us need more of this mineral. To do so, eat more leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and fish. On the same note, Vitamin D, is absolutely essential for bone density and quite possibly more important than calcium. If you don’t get daily sunlight, supplement by taking Vitamin D3. An added benefit would be one with magnesium included.

I cannot understate how important diet is in the balance of minerals and calcium absorption. The body is always trying to maintain homeostasis (balance). The typical American diet, rich in processed food increases acidic levels throughout the body. In order to get a balanced PH level, the body breaks down certain vitamins and minerals to stabilize, one of which is calcium. Other factors that wreak havoc on calcium uptake are excessive caffeine, alcohol, and chronic stress.

In order to get better bone health one must improve nutrition, increase activity level, and maintain proper hormone regulation. Start by changing your diet from highly acidic to more of an alkaline based. Include large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of these have good amounts of potassium that help regulate the acidic load. Choose limited dairy products (milk based) and cut back on red meat as both will increase acid levels. Also, begin a strength training program. Weight training will overload not only the muscles but the bones as well. This overload will help lay down new bone and increase bone formation. Incorporate weight training a minimum of 2-3 times a week. Be active and walk daily for heart health, bone health, and mental health. Grab a pair of 3-5 lb dumbbells to carry with you. This will also help overload to form new bone. To reduce stress and balance hormone levels, get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night. Stretch, meditate daily or engage in Yoga a few times a week to lower cortisol levels. Cortisol (stress hormone) will also inhibit calcium uptake and prevent bone formation.

 

Are you self aware of your body? Most of us don’t understand that what you tolerate you accept, but it is reality. Think about it for a minute. You get used to the way you feel and consider it to be normal. My dad tells me he has knee pain, back pain. He says the pain is part of life and you learn to deal with it. Tolerate it! I disagree. Many of our bodies are locked. The joints and tissues have aged and begun to lose integrity.

One reason the joints are locked is due to fascial restrictions. Fascial restrictions often occur in response to injury, disease, inactivity, or inflammation (stress or poor diet), causing fascial tissue to lose elasticity and become dehydrated. When fascia loses its elasticity and becomes dehydrated, fascia can bind around the traumatized areas, causing a fibrous adhesion to form. Fibrous adhesions are known to be painful, prevent normal muscle mechanics (i.e. joint range of motion, muscle length, neuromuscular hypertonicity, and decreased strength, endurance and motor coordination) and decrease soft-tissue extensibility. In other words, you get tight, lose flexibility, and decrease muscle efficiency. In time, the lack of proper joint mechanics will takes its toll on the body causing pain and structural dysfunctions.

What do you do about it? There are many treatments plans to choose from. I’d like to mention what works for me and many of my clients, use of a roller. Foam rolling is a form of fascial tissue release. Most foam rollers are just a basic foam cylinder, others are more dense and have PVC pipe wrapped with a rubbery cushion. You can also use a tennis ball, racquet ball, or lacrosse ball. It all depends on what the individual person can handle with regards to tenderness. 

One of my clients walked in the other day while I was rolling on the roller. She says, “Are you in pain?” This is a typical question I get from time to time. Think of using the roller as preventative maintenance. It is not just for rehabbing an injury or reducing the symptom of pain. Breaking up the knots on a regular basis will not only prevent injury but will allow you to have more efficiency during your training. This efficiency will be increased strength, improved range of motion, and enhanced force production. I recommend using this fascial release technique prior to any sporting activity, workout session, and first thing in the morning upon waking. The last one especially if you are a bit older and your joints have been locked up for quite some time.

I’ll link a video or two below for those of you who haven’t used one before. You can purchase a roller online or at your local sporting goods store. I’d start by focusing on rolling the major joint areas. These include the hips and glutes, upper back areas and shoulders. Also, I’d suggest rolling out the lower leg and calf region. You can find many videos on foam rolling via Youtube. Add rolling as a supplement to your flexibility program.

http://youtu.be/jZ3ITngLsm0

http://youtu.be/wr2mQmF5R-Y

http://youtu.be/v7zsbbBnBh4

 

It’s been awhile.  The last month or so I’ve been doing some research on various topics.  Today, I’d like to share some information on Dairy and help you determine whether or not you should include it in your nutritional game plan.  So, I’ve been sticking with this Paleo diet a little over 2 months now and I’m seeing amazing results.  Not only am I more energized, I’m sleeping better, my joints don’t ache, and my acid reflux is non-existent.  Just a basic rundown of the Paleo diet:

  • No starches of any kind including bread, pasta, grains, and everything else that is processed in a box.
  • No dairy. Milk products and all things included from yogurts to cheeses. Eggs are allowed.
  • No legumes. This one I didn’t understand because of their great balance between protein and carbohydrate.
  • What do I eat? Well, all protein sources from lean animal meat preferably organic or grass-fed.  These items include lean beef, turkey, chicken, and pork. Also, wild-caught fish as fresh as possible.  Fruits and veggies with limited amounts nuts and seeds.

Being dairy free I believe is the reason for most of the change.  In the past few months, two of my clients both went on different diet plans, one Vegan and the other Paleo from above.  The common denominator with both is the No-dairy approach.  The two had their cholesterol tested pre and post diet.  The results were amazing.  One decreased their total cholesterol by 60 points.  The other increased their good cholesterol by 30 points.  Unbelievable numbers!

We are the only mammal that drinks milk beyond infancy.  In 2001 the average child consumed 104 quarts of cow’s milk.  The milk myth has spread around the world based on the flawed belief that this protein and calcium-rich drink is essential to support good overall health and bone health in particular at any age.  It is easy to understand that the confusion about milk’s imaginary benefits stems from the fact that it contains calcium – around 300 mg per cup.

But many scientific studies have shown the detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. What an irony this is!

Here’s how it happens.  Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. You see, calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is – you guessed it… in the bones.  So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk.  Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.  Research statistics show that the countries with the lowest consumption of milk have the least amount of fractures in their population.

I’m not even going to get into the way our milk is produced in this country.  Hormone and antibiotic injections along with the genetically modified feed the cattle gorge.  That’s a whole other ball of wax.  Check out the following reasons why you should stop eating dairy:

1. Cow’s milk is intended for baby cows.  We’re the only species (other than those we are domesticating) that drinks milk after infancy.  And, we’re definitely the only ones drinking the milk of a different species.

2.  Hormones. Not only are the naturally-present hormones in cow’s milk stronger than human hormones, the animals are routinely given steroids and other hormones to plump them up and increase milk production.  These hormones can negatively impact humans’ delicate hormonal balance.

3.  Most cows are fed inappropriate food.  Commercial feed for cows contains all sorts of ingredients that include:  genetically-modified (GM) corn, GM soy, animal products, chicken manure, cottonseed, pesticides, and antibiotics.  And, think about all the pesticides that are sprayed on the feed for the cattle. Very toxic!

4.  Dairy products, when metabolized, are acid-forming.  Our bodies are constantly striving for biochemical balance to keep our blood at 7.365 pH.  Eating excessive acid-forming products can cause our bodies to overuse some of its acid-balancing mechanisms, one of which is the bones.  Alkaline calcium is stored in the bones and released to combat excessive acidity in the body.  Over time, bones can become fragile.

5.  Research shows that the countries whose citizens consume the most dairy products have the HIGHEST incidence of osteoporosis.

6.  Most dairy cows live in confined, inhumane conditions, never seeing the pastures of green grass they were intended to eat.

7. Most dairy products are pasteurized to kill potentially-harmful bacteria.  During the pasteurization process, vitamins, proteins, and enzymes are destroyed.  Enzymes assist with the digestion process.  When they are destroyed through pasteurization, milk becomes harder to digest, therefore putting a strain on our bodies’ enzyme systems.

8.  Dairy products are mucous-forming. They can contribute to respiratory disorders.  When I remove dairy and sugar from the diets of my clients, they stop experiencing hay fever and seasonal allergies.

9.  Research links dairy products with arthritis. In one study on rabbits, scientist Richard Panush was able to PRODUCE inflamed joints in the animals by switching their water to milk.  In another study, scientists observed more than a 50% reduction in the pain and swelling of arthritis when participants eliminated milk and dairy products from their diet.

10  Most milk is homogenized, which denatures the milk’s proteins, making it harder to digest.  Many peoples’ bodies react to these proteins as though they are “foreign invaders” causing their immune systems to overreact.  Research also links homogenized milk to heart disease.

Last week I discussed the reason for most joint pain.  The post entailed the Cumulative Injury Cycle with regard to the body’s reaction to pain management. To view this previous post, click on this link http://wp.me/pOgCs-9V .  This post explained that the body creates imbalances from a previous injury or a repetitive series of improper postures.  Through this, the biomechanics of the body is altered causing the Injury cycle.  Over time, the muscles neuromuscularly are not responding correctly causing defaults within the joint.  Then, as months and years progress, the joint itself wears and degenerates which causes more and more trips to the doctor.

One way to prevent this is to perform joint stabilization exercises to balance out the imbalances so that all muscles and joints are performing optimally. But first, one must figure out the imbalance and fix the problem.  A simple way that I use with my clients is the standard squat test.  In the pics you will see a weight shift to the right. I’ve used a dowel rod for a focal  point on the floor.  As I begin to squat you will see my body’s center line fall to the right.  This tells me that my glute on the right side is not firing to stabilize me. If not corrected, one or multiple joints surrounding could be altered and pain will soon arise.  Now you could go on for months with no pain.  Then, all of sudden, you may experience knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain, etc. There is a dysfunction and your body tries to compensate with other joints causing excessive use and more wear and tear.  You can do this simple test at home.  All you need is a stick, a golf club or even place some tape on the ground.  Have a friend or family member look at the results or take a picture.  Typically, if one shifts their body either way, the glute on that particular side is not working correctly.  Now, at times, the ankle joint could be the problem.  In this case,  I would also test the squat with the heels elevated with a small block.  This will take the ankle joint out of the equation and you will get a true reading.  I’ve had clients shift without the lift and then not shift with the lift.  This tells me the problem is with the flexibility in the calves.  Either way, this test should help you figure out at least one or possibly the main dysfunction.  If the problem is in the glute area, I recommend doing clam exercises with a mini-band, penguin walks, and/or side plank with the bottom knee bent focusing on the weakened glute muscle.  If you find the ankle joint to be the problem proper calf stretching and strengthening of the front compartment of the shin (anterior tibialis).  For now, I’d go to Youtube and locate the exercises.  In a later post, I will show you these exercises.  Check out the following pic and see if you can see the weight shift. Click on the pic to enhance the size.

With this next pic, the heels are lifted and you see that I am fairly balanced in my squat with more range of motion.  In the previous pics, my bodyweight shifted to right, plus I had limited flexibility and range of motion.  This tells me the problem begins with the ankle joint and the lack of flexibility in the calves.  Being that I stand all day long training clients, this would be a reasonable assumption.

 

Creaky, achy joints.  A twinge in the knee.  A sharp shooting pain from the shoulder to the elbow.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  All too often, we assume joint pain is a normal part of aging that we just have to learn to live with.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is a serious problem and can affect every aspect of your life. What causes this? Well, the initial problem could have started with an injury from an accident or some sort of trauma.  Most cases involve postural imbalances developed over time causing the Cumulative Injury Cycle. Let’s talk a little biomechanics here first:

Arthrokinetic Dysfunction leads to altered joint motion.

Arthrokinematics refers to the motion of the joints.  Arthrokinetic dysfunction is a biomechanical and neuromuscular dysfunction leading to altered joint motion.  Altered joint motion causes altered length-tension relationships.  This affects the joint and causes poor movement efficiency. 

For example, externally rotating the feet when squatting forces the tibia and femur to also externally rotate.  This alters length-tension relationships of the muscles at the knee and hips, putting the gluteus maximus (prime mover) in a shortened position and decreasing its ability to generate force.  This causes the biceps femoris and piriformis (synergists) to become synergistically dominant, altering force-couple relationships (recruitment patterns), altering arthrokinematics (joint motions) and increase stress to the knees and low back.  Over time, this stress can lead to pain which can further alter muscle recruitment and joint mechanics. Herein, meniscus repair surgery.   Another example is a person sitting at a desk at work for days and years on end.  Over time their shoulders become rounded, the head protrudes forward and all the muscles of the upper thoracic region become short and stressed.  Neck pain develops.  With each and every overhead movement the rotator cuff tendons begin to fray.  Then, all of sudden, a few years down the road you are going to the orthopaedist for a shoulder problem.  The doc asked, “How did you hurt your shoulder?”  Your answer, I’m not sure.  It just became achy and would get better, then worse. This is in response to the Cumulative Injury Cycle.  The cycle begins with an injury or a postural related muscle imbalance.  The cycle is repetitive until you are on the operating table getting cut on.  Unless, of course, you make the decision to re-train the imbalances and focus on producing proper neuromuscular efficiency and solid biomechanical function.  I see alot of people out there doing the next best exercise.  Maybe they saw it in a magazine or on a video.  Possibly, watched a trainer have a client perform the exercise.  Just because something is good for one person, doesn’t mean it is good for another.  Your body is your own and everyone has a different dysfunction.  Working out and being active is good.  Working out with proper movement mechanics is great.  My suggestion would be to figure out your problem and then attack the imbalance.  In a future post, I will show you how to figure out the problem and give you ideas on how to correct it.