Soothing Joint Pain Without Medication

Joint pain can really limit our ability to participate in the activities we love, and often take for granted until we aren’t able to do them anymore. Joint pain is typically cause by a form of arthritis, and can limit our mobility. Luckily, there are some great natural remedies that can soothe your pain naturally, making it easier to participate in the things you love.

joint-soak

Epsom Salt Soak

Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral that has been used to get relief from pain for years because of its high levels of magnesium. To soak, simply add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a large bowl of warm water, stir it and soak your joints for at least 1 minutes.

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Olive Oil Massage

A main compound in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) called oleocanthal inhibits inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and COX-2, just like Advil or aspirin does. The study showed that 1 ½ tablespoons is equal to 200-mg of ibuprofen. Make sure the oil is extra virgin olive oil or “cold-pressed.” The ripeness of the olives at the time they were pressed determines the levels present. To massage, rub some olive oil (about 1 TBSP) onto your joints 2-3 times a day and gently rub.

essential oils

Essential Oils

Peppermint and eucalyptus have analgesic, or pain-relieving, properties. They are very cooling oils, and can temporarily soothe your discomfort. To use, blend 5-10 drops of both eucalyptus and peppermint oil together, and then mix into 1-2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil (known as the “carrier” oil). You MUST dilute the essential oil or it may irritate your skin. Be sure to keep your blended oil in a dark glass bottle out of direct sunlight to maintain potency.

ginger-turmeric

Turmeric & Ginger

Turmeric is a bright yellow herb that has been used in cooking, dyes and Ayurvedic medicine in India and China for 2,000 years. Turmeric has recently drawn attention from Western health practitioners for the treatment of arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. Please note: turmeric can cause side effects, specifically thinning of the blood, so please consult a practitioner before starting this herbal treatment. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends combining turmeric with ginger for natural relief of inflammation. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce swelling and stiffness. Take both herbs together in capsules at the same time, or make a tea, brewing a one-inch piece of each herb in two cups of boiling water for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the herbs and add honey or stevia to sweeten if desired.

By using some of these readily available natural remedies, you can support your body and help soother your pain without the use of medications. Treat your body well, and it will treat you well in return!

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Is Your Desk Job Hurting Your Hips?

Do you have a desk job? A long commute on top of that? All that sitting could be doing some serious damage to your body! It’s very important to be sure that you’re doing regular stretching and taking breaks throughout the day to ensure you don’t do long-term damage to your body over time. Not only can this cause tight hip muscles, but it also weakens your back and butt. All of these combined creates an environment where injury can happen very easily.

Have you ever gotten up from a sitting position and your butt feels numb and your hips feel so tight that you have to lean forward at the waist just to walk? Excessive sitting leaves your hips and legs overly tight and your glutes inactive.

Some fitness experts argue that sitting causes muscles in the hip area to physically shorten (and stay shorter), even after you stand up. While there are no scientific studies to back that claim, from my own personal experience, sitting for lengthy periods of time definitely makes everything feel tight in my hip area.

Having a healthy range of motion in your hips not only feels good, but it can also help prevent injury when you are more active. Taking care of your hips may also help improve your posture, which can in turn alleviate back or neck pain.

Here are a few strategies you can use to help prevent you from turning into a total mess from sitting at your desk all day!

  1. Utilize a standing work station. A work station that is set up for proper ergonomics can do wonders for the body, physically and mentally.
  2. If you can’t stand at your workstation, I recommend you stand for at least 5 minutes for every 30 minutes you are sitting. If you can stretch during that five minute break, that’s even better!
  3. If you can’t be seen visibly standing to “take a break,” find some work you can do that requires getting up and moving. For example, making copies, walking to a colleagues office rather than calling, going to the water cooler for a drink or a bathroom break. Try to do one of these at least every 30 minutes to avoid prolonged sitting.
  4. Do regular hip stretches to prevent overly tight hips from causing imbalance in your body. If you can do these during your 5 minute breaks, this would be ideal. See below for some popular hip stretches from www.artofmanillness.com.

Leg Swings

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This is a great dynamic stretch that I do before every workout. It loosens up the hips, hamstrings, and glutes.

Begin with forward leg swings. Find something to hold for balance. Start off swinging your right leg backwards and forwards as high and as far back as you comfortably can. Do 20 swings and then switch legs.

Next are side-to-side swings. Again, find something to hold for balance. Swing your right leg out to the side as high as possible and then in front of you towards your left as far as you can go. Perform 20 swings and then switch legs. Depending on how tight you feel, you may need another set.

Grok Squat

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The Grok Squat is very similar to a catcher’s stance in baseball. Simply squat down until your butt touches your ankles. Keep your heels firmly on the ground and your back straight. Hold that position for 30-60 seconds. You should feel your hamstrings, quads, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin gently stretching. If you’re super stiff, it may take a few days of practice to sink into a full squat. Keep at it. Your back and hips will thank you.

Intersperse a few short squatting sessions into your daily routine.

Table Pigeon Pose

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If you’ve done yoga, you’re probably familiar with the pigeon pose. This stretch is the same thing, except you use a table, which makes it a bit easier to perform and allows you to stretch out your muscles from different angles. Start by placing your leg on a tabletop (you could also use your bed) with the knee bent at 90 degrees. Place one hand on the table and one hand on your foot for support. Lean forward and hold for 60-90 seconds. Then lean left to the 10 o’clock position and hold for 60-90 seconds. Lean right to the 2 o’clock position and hold for 60-90 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

If you have knee problems, rotate your body so that your ankle hangs off the table and place a pillow underneath your knee. Aim to do two pigeon poses a day (I personally do one during my workout and another at a random time).

Couch Stretch

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This stretch is a killer. I didn’t realize how unlimber I was until I tried doing the couch stretch. It’s basically a quad stretch ratcheted up a few notches. Starrett argues that this will undo years of sitting.

You actually don’t need a couch for this stretch, it just makes it a bit more comfortable (if that’s even possible). You can also do it on the floor by putting your knee against a wall.

For the “easy” version, place the knee of the leg you’re stretching against the back of your sofa. Place the foot of your other leg on the floor. Slowly raise your torso to a neutral spine position (i.e. standing straight and tall). As you raise your torso, squeeze your butt and abs. Hold the position for up to four minutes. Switch and repeat on the other leg. You should feel things really stretch in your hip flexor area — just don’t push yourself too hard.

To up the ante, bring your non-stretching leg up onto the seat of the couch. Keeping a straight, neutral spine, squeeze the butt and abs and work your way up to holding the position for four minutes. Keep in mind that it may be awhile before you can get your torso to a straight position. When I first started doing this stretch the “hard way,” I could only raise my torso to a 45-degree angle and I’d have to support myself with my hand on the floor. I was eventually able to move to a straight position after two weeks of dedicated stretching. The difference in the mobility of my hips was (and continues to be) significant.

This stretch is so good that I try to do it every day, sometimes before a workout, sometimes when I’m just hanging out.

By incorporating regular breaks and stretches into your day, you can help to combat some of the damage that is being done to your body from extended sitting. Happy stretching!

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Knee and Hip Pain? Your Big Toe Could Be to Blame

By David Reavy

Turf toe may make you think of high school football practice, but this little sprain can sideline almost any athlete, at any point. Whether you’re a runner, basketball or soccer player, martial artist, or even a dancer, if you push off your feet, you can be felled by this sharp pain at the toe joint. If it’s not properly addressed, the injury has long-term implications too.

Turf toe is a ligament sprain of the first metatarsal phalangeal (MTP) joint, also known as your big toe joint, where your foot and toe meet. The big toe plays a crucial role in balance and stability when you walk, jump, and run. As weight is transferred from the heel to the front of the foot, the big toe acts as a lever to allow the foot to push off the ground. An injury to the big toe can alter the entire mechanics of the leg; other muscles will compensate for the toe, which can lead to injuries in your feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

In an ideal world, you use your entire foot when pushing off. Take a look at your feet. Where are your calluses? The location of your calluses will tell you exactly how you use your foot now. If you looked at the feet of one of the most explosive players in basketball, you would see callouses spread out equally throughout all five metatarsal heads (located in your fore foot).

With turf toe clients, I typically see callouses on the medial side (the arch side) of their first MTP joint and big toe, which indicates improper push-off and an excessive rotation force on the first MTP. What this means is the foot is lacking the necessary mobility through the joints. Because of the decreased movement, a turf-toe client is forced to push off through the outside of the foot, causing an excessive amount of rotational force. Over time, this leads to the overextension and sprain of the big toe joint.

In my clinical practice, I’ve found that improper body alignment is the main culprit of turf toe. Pushing off requires the entire posterior chain — the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and foot muscles — to fire, and the opposite anterior chain to counterbalance that force. Improper alignment, like a forward pelvic tilt, can prevent your posterior chain from working properly and sends too much force through your toe.

So if you suffer from turf toe, or think you’re at risk based on your calluses, you need to work on getting your body into the right alignment and your posterior chain engaging properly. Here are some simple exercises that will help.

Shin Dorsiflexor Release

  • Find a stable, firm surface roughly knee height. Place lacrosse ball under the front of the shin and kneel onto it.
  • Slowly allow more body weight to sink into ball while your knee continues to bend. Pump your foot up and down until the discomfort in that area decreases.
  • Move ball around to multiple sore spots along to target entire muscle. Perform on both legs for 3 to 5 minutes.

Soleus Release

  • Sit on the ground with your lower calf on top of a lacrosse ball or foam roller.
  • Place your other leg over the one you’re releasing to add pressure, and roll yourself up and down over the ball.
  • Once you find a spot that is tender, stop and point your foot up and down for 30 seconds.

Big Toe MWM

  • Stand with one foot in front and one foot behind you. Most of your weight should be on the front foot.
  • Place a resistance band, anchored behind you, around your front ankle.
  • While keeping the entire front foot in contact with the ground, slowly rock your front knee forward while forcing your knee outward.
  • Rock forward as far as you can, but don’t let the heel rise off the ground. Return to the starting position. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Banded Single Leg RDL

  • Stand with all of your weight on one foot, and a resistance band just under your kneecap on your standing leg, anchored so that it pulls your knee inward. Knee should be slightly bent, weight through the heel, shoulder blades down and back with arms in the shape of a W.
  • Force your knee out and extend your non-standing leg straight behind while simultaneously bringing chest forward toward the ground, hinging from the waist.
  • Hold and repeat for three sets of 10 reps on each leg. Do not rotate hips (should be parallel to the ground, keep back flat.)

Nose to Wall With Trunk Rotation

  • Stand on one foot with toes turned in, other foot is down behind you like a kickstand. All of your weight should be on your front foot.
  • With a soft bend in your front knee, shift weight from heel to ball of the foot, while keeping your back foot planted.
  • Make sure chest is up throughout the exercise. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Source: Mens Journal | not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide