Many people believe that joint pain is inevitable, something they must learn to live with as they get older. But as a fitness trainer with 20 years experience, working in the trenches with clients, I’ve seen hundreds of people reduce or completely eliminate pain when they implement three simple steps. Read on to learn about how you can too.
The first step is to rid your body of inflammation. Inflammation is a normal part of our body’s immune system. When you cut your finger, for example, white blood cells secrete a number of inflammation-promoting chemicals that rush to the injured area, where they fight germs and rid your body of damaged cells. Once the wound is healed, your immune system settles back down, no longer needing to respond with inflammatory substances.
But not always. Sometimes, the immune system stays active. Stress and dietary imbalances can confuse the body into thinking that it’s under assault, even when there’s no real threat. The result is a continued immune response, chronic inflammation, leading to systemic inflammation associated with many of the modern degenerative diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
Chronic inflammation has many causes. One cause is elevated levels of the hormone insulin in the blood. The modern diet of high carbohydrate foods increases blood sugar and stimulates the production of insulin. The problem is that the high blood insulin is inflammatory; it stimulates the body to make pro inflammatory hormones which can lead to a large number of diseases, as well as the nagging pain and stiffness that you feel in your joints.
Another cause of inflammation is a diet consisting of foods high in “bad” fats—omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). A healthy balance of omega-6 EFAs to omega-3 EFAs “good” fats is necessary for keeping inflammation under control. Prior to agriculture, the omega-6/omega-3 EFA ratio ranged from about 1:1 to 3:1. Modern-day omega-6/omega-3 EFA ratios average about 20 to 1!
To reduce chronic inflammation in the body, eat the anti-inflammatory Paleo diet. It is naturally low in carbohydrates, so it reduces chronically elevated levels of insulin in the body. It also includes lots of foods rich in omega-3, the anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid, such as Alaskan salmon, mackerel, wild game, grass-fed meats, omega-3-enriched eggs and dark leafy greens. Foods to be avoided, which contribute pro-inflammatory omega-6 EFAs, include grains and many vegetable oils, such as safflower, sunflower, corn, canola and soybean oil.
Guidelines to Keep Inflammation Low
- Eat good fat not bad fat
- Eat a variety of plant food
- Keep sugar low, including fruit
- Avoid grains and beans
- Consume fresh raw nuts and seeds
- Use the glycemic index/glycemic load
The second step is to release chronic muscular tension by a technique known as Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), using a foam roller. Unfortunately, we have adapted to the sedentism of our times by developing restriction in our muscles and in the fascial tissue that surrounds them, by means of bad postural habits and lack of use. A chronic tension keeps our muscles tight, and over time they are unable to perform even simple functions, such as holding the body upright in good posture and maintaining structural integrity. SMR, quickly and effectively releases chronic tension in the soft tissues and realigns the skeletal system in a way that makes it work better.
The third step is to learn to move using Primal movement patterns, (such as pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, squatting, lunging and gait) This type of training, known as functional training, departs from more traditional workout programs by shifting the focus to foot-based, full body exercise, no longer focusing on isolating body parts to build muscle. Instead, the goal of functional exercise is to restore function by uncovering muscle imbalances and faulty movement patterns caused by weak links in the kinetic chain, and then correcting them.
The kinetic chain is a linkage system; it links adjacent joints and muscles together so that energy, or force, generated by one part of the body can move successfully through the body. When you have a weakness in one segment, the body tries to compensate by misusing other body parts. Once these weak links in the kinetic chain are corrected—by releasing restrictions using the foam roller and building strength and awareness with Primal/functional movement patterns—you will be able to move the way your body was designed to move.
To learn more, register for Paleo Pain Solutions that Work, thru Santa Barbara Community College, at Fitness Transform Studio, on April 8 at 6pm.
I will also be offering 3 classes on how to Become Pain Free with Foam Rolling and Stretching, thru Santa Barbara Community College, at Fitness Transform Studio, starting 4/15/15 from 10am to 11am.