Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Are Your Joints Going To Last?

Recently, I read an article in the NY Times entitled “Caring for Hips and Knees to Avoid Artificial Joints” that rankled me a little bit partly for what advice it gave but also for what it left out. Rather than go over what they said in detail, I will let you read the article for yourself and will focus on what, I believe, would serve you best in your endeavour to keep the comfortable function of your joints for a long, long, time.

While joint wear has many variables, over my years in practice, I have noticed many similarities in the life patterns of those with failing, failed, repaired, or replaced knee, hip, and vertebrae. The similarities fall into several categories of which I will address two today. Then, I will offer some useful suggestions for you to consider integrating into your daily regimen.

The number one proximal cause of joint degeneration that I see in my clients is improper alignment of the joint (knee, hip, vertebra) leading to non uniform loading of the joint and premature wear on one side of the joint. A good example of this is the knee joint. The knee joint is designed to hinge in one plane only (front to back-with slight mobility supported side to side). Generally though, knees are not well aligned. That is the lower leg is not well aligned with the upper leg. There is a twist in the joint which then leads to uneven weight and force distribution across the joint. Now this is common enough, but add to that uneven wearing, an overweight body, unbalanced muscular strength across the joint, and malnutrition caused by a deficient diet and you are in for fast uneven wear of the joint, likely inflammation, and possibly joint failure.

Prior to joint failure, there are several, fairly simple solutions to this problem: the twist in the joint can be alleviated by proper alignment of the joint, the weight can be lost through diet and movement, and the inflammation can be alleviated by the first two plus anti inflammatory herbal and nutritional supplements.

So then, what are the specifics of these individual solutions? Glad you asked.

Proper alignment of the joints can be effectively addressed by properly balancing the tensioning of the muscles that cross the joint and hold it in its alignment. This is best accomplished by going through the Basic Series of Structural Integration- a process designed to lengthen, balance, and align the body along its central axis- and with the pull of the gravitational force. Better balance and alignment mean that the force of gravitys downward pull on the body is neutralized. This is because the upward force of the earth is transmitted more efficiently relative to the vertical alignment the body structure itself. Better alignment= more even wear of the joints and less downward force means happy, long lasting joints.

Weight, nutritional deficiency, and inflammation can be addressed fairly easily with a bit of attention to dietary intake. The easiest things to remove from your diet to minimize inflammation are processed foods such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, sugar. All of these things not only challenge the digestive tract, liver, and adrenal, but they also deplete the pancreas and promote insulin resistance (a symptom of type II diabetes). Additionally, these foods promote (relative) internal acidity which the body tries to balance out by putting mineral ions into the blood. These mineral ions have to come from somewhere and the biggest stores of the mineral ions in the body are the teeth, bones, and joints.

So- if you are chronically pulling minerals from your teeth, bones and joints- you are continually weakening your teeth, bones and joints. An added bonus of limiting these foods is that as you break the insulin resistant cycle you will begin to lose weight as well. Stay tuned for next weeks article where I will give you more specifics on the how and why of nutrition and Structural Integration for joint longevity and comfort.

As always, comments and questions are appreciated and retweets are welcomed.

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