A Natural Approach to Joint Pain

One of the certain ways to continue in a sedentary lifestyle is to live with chronic joint pain. In fact, I was almost not a runner because my knees used to hurt so bad when I ran that I felt like they were being cut off with a chainsaw. I was very discouraged by the irony that I needed to exercise to lose weight but couldn’t because the only exercise I enjoyed doing caused me excruciating pain in every attempt. So, the first thing I did when this happened was to have a MRI done on my knee to confirm that there were no fractures or displacements. Once those concerns were ruled out, I became obsessed with fixing my knee problem.

Chronic knee joint pain that is not caused by dislocation or fractures can be caused by many other problems such as damaged cartilage, inflammation, and fluid build-up. Inflammation is a very common cause and appeared to be the cause of the pain I was experiencing. As explained further below, I found my solutions in nature and in engaging a personal trainer.

Nature. Nature provides us with natural and very effective anti-inflammatories in the form of ginger and turmeric. Research has shown that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40% for patients suffering with Osteoarthritis, as compared to a placebo. Ginger is such an effective anti-inflammatory, that it may one day become a substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Choosing an appropriate source of ginger is important. In other words, don’t expect to experience any anti-inflammatory benefits from eating gingerbread! My personal suggestion is to consume ginger in a natural raw pressed form. However, understanding that this is a more expensive and less convenient option, it is also beneficial to consume ginger in capsule form. When purchasing ginger in capsule form, try to find a brand that uses “super critical extraction” methods.

Tumeric is another natural anti-inflammatory that comes from the turmeric plant. The active ingredient in turmeric that is believed to reduce inflammation is called curcumin. Studies comparing the effectiveness of turmeric to other anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen found that turmeric was the most effective anti-inflammatory. Like ginger, turmeric comes in various forms but about 500 milligrams per day in capsule form is usually recommended.

Physical Training: When I decided to engage a personal trainer to help with exercises to relieve my knee joint pain, the first thing he had me do was purchase proper running shoes. Running is a very impactful exercise on the knee joints so running in the wrong type of shoe can cause injury and knee pain. Choosing the right type of running shoe should be based on an analysis of your stride and on how much your feet pronate (rotate inward from the ankle) In my case, my feet over pronate so I needed running shoes with good arch support. The shoes I was running in had none whatsoever and was quite likely contributing to my knee pain. Once I started wearing the proper running shoes for my stride my running experience became a lot better.

My training plan also included strengthening the glute, quadricep and hamstring muscles that support the knee joint by helping to absorb some of the force from running. These strengthening exercises included resistant band step-outs, lunges, single-legged squats, step-ups and deadlifts. An important concept in carrying out these exercises is accomplishing the goal of stabilizing the knee joint so many of the exercises are done on one leg at a time. Stretching and foam rolling is also very important to help relax the muscles surrounding the knee. Ideally it is best to do a warm-up exercise then stretch and foam roll both before and after the strength training exercises.

I hope that these approaches encourage and assist you in trying a natural approach toward addressing any chronic joint pain that might be keeping you from becoming more physically active. I have applied these methods over the past 4 years and effectively healed my knee pain with them so that I could even go on to complete 3 marathons. Consistency, patience and a determined desire to get better is all you will need to add before these approaches turn around some results for you as well.