The processes that go on in the human body to maintain and repair joint tissue are complex. It is easy to get tangled in the nuances of why injuries, pain and discomfort occur – your doctor, your physio and your chiropractor will all have different views on what has caused an injury and the best way to rehab it and avoid it recurring.
Rather than focussing on differences, we have devised a joint care checklist that enables people to get the basics right when it comes to their joint health.
Simply put most joint problems occur when joint or connective tissue breaks down faster than the body is able to repair it. This is true for acute injuries such as ACL tears, overuse injuries like tennis elbow and even degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Healthy joint and connective tissue are extremely strong and resilient. Put another way, it is really hard to injure healthy joint tissues. Injuries to cartilage, ligaments and tendons are usually a consequence of a long term imbalance where tissue is unable to heal as fast as it is being damaged.
The GLC2000 joint care checklist shows what is important to keep your joint and connective tissues as healthy as possible, by giving your body everything it needs to heal tissues effectively.
Readdressing this daily imbalance should help to avoid injuries occurring, cause injuries that do occur to be less severe and help to recover faster.
Physical pain, soreness or aching joints are all ways of your body telling you that joint tissue has been broken down and your body has not repaired that damage fully.
If these symptoms persist it could be an indication that your activities are causing your joint and connective tissues to breakdown faster than your body is able to heal.
One way to address this imbalance is by giving the affected area a break. This could be by stopping whatever activities or exercises may be causing tissue damage to the sore area.
Assuming that our body is repairing our joint tissues at a constant rate, by resting and therefore slowing this tissue breakdown, we can give our body an opportunity to build healthy new cartilage, tendons and ligaments faster than we are damaging our existing tissue. Causing a net positive effect on our overall joint health.
Resting is a simple way to improve joint health, but is often ignored by athletes who feel that if they are resting than they are not making progress. Gains are made because your body is able to adapt to stressors and repair damaged tissue stronger, so during your downtime is when progress is truly made.
Taking a short period off could stop a joint niggle developing into serious joint injury that may eventually need to be surgery repair. There is a trade off between say taking 2 weeks off in the short term, to potentially needing to take 6 months off post surgery.
If your joints hurt you probably need to drink more.
Water is the primary ingredient in your joint tissues; up to 85% of cartilage, and 80% in connective tissues (tendons and ligaments).
Even moderate dehydration affects joint and connective tissue because cartilage, tendons and ligaments are not classed as a vital organs. If you are dehydrated your body will consistently prioritise the hydration of your brain, lungs, heart etc over your joint tissues so your overall joint health will quickly suffer.
Food is a huge influencer of health and well being, and this is no different for the health of your joints.
Build healthy new joint tissue:
May be inflammatory for a lot of people. Some people believe the human body hasn’t evolved to eat gluten based products.
If you are struggling with joint problems it may be worth looking at removing or reducing the number of grains in your diet.
Some studies have observed that high strength glucosamine supplementation can affect gluten receptors and may lead to less inflammation of the joints.
Linked to a number of auto immune conditions including arthritis, asthma, allergies, acne and lupus.
There are similarities between the casein proteins in milk and gliadin protein found in wheat and gluten.
The Role of Quality Supplementation
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are both naturally found in healthy cartilage, ligaments and tendons. The availability of these two substances is key for the body to maintain healthy joint and connective tissues, as well the synovial fluid of the joint capsule. Oral supplementation has been proven to make more glucosamine and chondroitin available in and around joint tissues so the body can repair at its optimal rate.
Chondroitin is a structural part of joint tissues, it provides strength, hydration and compressive resistance by drawing water into cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
Laboratory studies have shown that chondroitin sulfate has the potential to reduce the excretion of degenerative enzymes in cartilage and synovial fluid.
Glucosamine plays a structural and regulatory role in joint health. It is used directly as a building block for a number of joint tissues and other tissues across the human body. It is thought that its presence allows the body to increase the speed at which new joint tissue is created. Other studies have indicated that high strength glucosamine has some anti inflammatory properties for the body but particularly the joints, and may also help slow the degeneration of joint tissues.
Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Don’t treat long term joint problems with NSAIDS. These relieve symptoms but NSAIDs have significant side effects above the gastrointestinal damage they can cause. They can actually prevent healing and potentially accelerate deterioration of joint tissue.
Inflammation during an injury is your body’s way of kick starting the healing process. So anti-inflammatories are counter intuitive.
NSAIDs are thought to stop the creation of new joint tissue on a cellular level, negatively affecting tissue structure, strength and elasticity.
May be good for your joint health, but poor movement patterns may be accelerating the degeneration of your joint tissues. So seek professional advice, and then try to follow it.
Proper Movement can be medicine.
Warmup – helps protect against undue wear and tear.
By warming up the synovial fluid around your joints, it becomes thinner and more easily absorbed by your joints, meaning cartilage is able to provide a more effective cushion against compression.
Cartilage absorbs nutrients and removes waste through compression and expansion. Without regular load bearing exercise the quality of cartilage may deteriorate.
Weight bearing exercise also builds bone mass and can strengthen muscles that stabilise many joints.
Very few people enjoy stretching and mobility work. But if you want to your joints to remain pain free, keep making progress in the gym or as an athlete or recover from an injury as fast as you can it is worth investing some time in mobility work.
Always mobilise in a good position so poor movement patterns are not reinforced.
Spend time working on tight areas before they cause problems.
If a joint is sore carefully mobilise the muscle groups upstream and downstream of problem area
Get help. Find a coach, movement specialist or physio for guidance.