Ease joint trouble with­out the tablets

LIZ CON­NOR gets some sim­ple so­lu­tions for ban­ish­ing those sum­mer­time aches and pains

Llanelli Star - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE -

JOINT pain can be ir­ri­tat­ing at best and crippling at worse, and it’s cer­tainly no fun to deal with in the sum­mer heat.

As one of the ma­jor health com­plaints here in the UK, more than 10 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fer with arthri­tis or other con­di­tions that af­fect the joints, caus­ing aches, pains and plenty of dis­com­fort.

“Joint pain af­fects in­di­vid­u­als all year round, de­spite the com­mon myth that it be­comes worse in win­ter,” says Lloyd­sPhar­macy phar­ma­cist An­shu Kaura ( lloyds phar­macy.com).

“It can af­fect both your emo­tional and phys­i­cal well­be­ing, of­ten caus­ing a lack of mo­bil­ity – how­ever, there are ways to help im­prove your move­ment, with life­style changes and so­lu­tions to sup­port and pro­tect the joints.”

Here, An­shu rec­om­mends her top drug-free al­ter­na­tives to help man­age joint pain when all you want to do is get out­side and en­joy the good weather...

TAKE A HIKE

IT might sound coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but a bit of light ex­er­cise may help to re­lieve some of the an­noy­ing symp­toms of joint trou­bles.

“Walk­ing is a great way to get phys­i­cally ac­tive and en­joy the warm weather dur­ing the sum­mer,” says An­shu, “and it can also help to in­crease mus­cle strength, par­tic­u­larly in the lower body.”

To reap the ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise with­out putting you at risk of in­jury, An­shu sug­gests try­ing Nordic walk­ing. This type of low-im­pact fit­ness in­volves us­ing spe­cially de­signed walk­ing poles to help pro­pel you for­ward as you walk, which takes the pres­sure off the knees and joints.

“Nordic walk­ing has been shown to be par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in help­ing those with bal­ance or joint con­di­tions,” notes An­shu. “Plus, the poles ab­sorb some of the ground

im­pact, re­duc­ing any neg­a­tive bear­ing on the knees.”

See if there are any lo­cal walk­ing groups you can join, as ex­er­cis­ing in a group can keep you mo­ti­vated to at­tend week af­ter week.

TRY DRUG-FREE PAIN RE­LIEF

IF YOU feel a sore knee flar­ing up, it’s tempt­ing to raid the medicine cabi­net for some respite. How­ever, An­shu rec­om­mends seek­ing out more gen­tle meth­ods be­fore re­sort­ing to the strong stuff.

“You shouldn’t have to al­ways turn to painkiller­s to pro­vide re­lief, and it’s im­por­tant to remember that while painkiller­s may al­le­vi­ate the pain, they won’t nec­es­sar­ily en­hance your move­ment or help pro­tect your joints,” she warns. “Top­i­cal gels can be very ef­fec­tive at al­le­vi­at­ing the pain, and the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents can even help your joints move more freely,” she says. “You could try some­thing like Flexiseq Gel (£18.49 for 50g, lloyd­sphar­macy. com) for drug-free, tar­geted care for joint wear and tear. “Top­i­cally ap­plied to joints, it de­liv­ers deep, pen­e­trat­ing lu­bri­cants, help­ing to sup­port joint health.”

GO MEDITER­RANEAN

“FOL­LOW­ING a healthy diet and try­ing to lose a lit­tle weight through light ex­er­cise may pay div­i­dends in re­duc­ing your joint pain and in­creas­ing your abil­ity to stay ac­tive,” says An­shu.

“There’s a strong link be­tween diet and joint pain; both in main­tain­ing a healthy weight and ob­tain­ing ben­e­fi­cial nu­tri­ents,” she ex­plains, adding that ex­cess fat around the joints can put strain on the body and can some­times in­crease in­flam­ma­tion.

An­shu says that stud­ies have found that di­ets rich in fruit and veg­eta­bles, such as the Mediter­ranean diet, have a num­ber of health ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing im­proved mo­bil­ity in the lower body and less arthri­tis-led pain.

“Mediter­ranean di­ets are typ­i­cally high in omega-3 fats, found in oily fish, which have anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties that can help ease symp­toms,” she notes.

“Vi­ta­min K is an­other nu­tri­ent shown to sup­port the bone car­ti­lage to re­duce symp­toms of joint pain. Good sources are typ­i­cally found in leafy veg­eta­bles and ce­re­als.”

MAKE A SPLASH

IS there any­thing more re­fresh­ing than go­ing for a swim on a hot sum­mer’s day? As well as help­ing you to cool off, it could help to sup­port your joints in the long-run.

“Swim­ming has many ben­e­fits on the body, par­tic­u­larly if you ex­pe­ri­ence pain on your knees,” says An­shu.

Es­sen­tially, the wa­ter sup­ports your body, al­low­ing you to float, mean­ing that there’s less im­pact on the skele­tal sys­tem, in­clud­ing your joints.

“Gen­tle swim­ming or wa­ter aer­o­bics can help strengthen your mus­cles around your joints, re­duc­ing the im­pact of pain,” adds An­shu.

“Not only is swim­ming a pain-free way to keep mov­ing, but strength­en­ing your mus­cles can help re­duce the de­gen­er­a­tive im­pact of joint pain.

“Warm pools are par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial, as the heat can help to loosen stiff joints, sup­port­ing flex­i­bil­ity.

“Be­yond sup­port­ing the joints, swim­ming of­fers a num­ber of other health ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing im­proved cir­cu­la­tion and breath­ing, lower heart rates and health­ier blood pres­sure.”

Swim­ming is a bril­liant ex­er­cise as it takes the weight off your joints as you gently ex­er­cise in warm wa­ter

Vi­ta­mins and nat­u­ral oils from a healthy diet will help keep prob­lems at bay

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