As liberating as running can be, many have been burdened by some of the common joint injures specific to running. Over the years I’ve discovered three proactive steps of prevention and rehabilitation. Enlist the services of a really great sports massage therapist, use a leg stabilizing strength program and be diligent with a flexibility routine. However, sometimes that is not enough. With busy lives, it is really hard to keep up with all the nutritional demands of running. Too much stress and not enough nutrients to keep up with all of life’s draining and taxing demands cause a destructive imbalance. As a result, some of the lingering inflammation and pain are indicative of a gap in required materials needed by the body to heal. The good news is that science has given us ways to provide the body with some of critical nutrients that may be lacking to help you repair, recover and get back to running!
The main issues a runner needs to address when attempting to mend or keep joints healthy are reducing inflammation, providing more joint material, and reducing oxidation. Inflammation is considered a partner in crime when people begin to run. It’s not a stranger to any of us on the move even if it lurks “silently” in the hidden corridors o
f our cells and tissues. This inflammation doesn’t have to swell up like a huge balloon in order to wreak havoc in the joint capsules, cause the dull pain felt by some or the never healing “itis” that haunts others. Reducing inflammation on a nutritional level is not just a matter of eliminating the toxic refined foods that perpetuate the
problem. Replace the poison with high quality whole foods and add in a lot of clean essential fats that have some omega 6’s and emphasize omega 3’s. The essential fats go immediately to work in the war on inflammation reduction. The best way to get the fats is by adding fish oils, plant based oils and some other forms of food based fats like guacamole, olives, and nuts. Taking 4-6 fish oil capsules everyday is a must! And fish oil isn’t enough so taking 2-6 Tablespoons of a plant-based oil like flax seed oil every day can make a big difference. That can be easily added to a protein shake, mixed into yogurt, salad dressings or taken plain. Both fish and plant forms are vital and essential.
Providing more joint material for repair is the next crucial piece to joint health. Runners put themselves through a lot of wear and tear to knees and hips so it becomes a priority to give your body enough material to rebuild what is getting worn down. Many studies have shown the amazing reconstructive and healing properties of Glucosamine Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate and MSM and SAMe. Patients taking these supplements have been able to provide enough materials to help their body rebuild cartilage, repair connective tissues, reduce pain and swelling (even outperforming NSAIDS for many patients), lubricate joints and increase collagen formation. These are essential rebuilding, anti-inflammatory and pain management nutrients. As a preventative measure, take these supplements according to the instructions on the label. When in pain, the dose are often doubled or tripled temporarily.
Lastly, the never ending nemesis entitled oxidation, just won’t retreat as long as you breathe oxygen. Not only are you “rusting” from the inside out, but oxidation slams on your joints like a meat hammer causing joint deterioration. The most effective way to reduce the destruction is to take a wide spectrum of antioxidant that not only come from fresh colorful produce, but can be easily consumed in more effective quantities as supplements. The most important ones to add in first are 2-4 grams Vit C, 400-800 mg Vit E, 200-400 mg Selenium and 60-120 mg CoQ 10.
While the effort many seem overwhelming at first, you will reap the benefits of many years of injury free running if you commit to taking care of your joints. Keep your body strong, balanced, flexible and full of the all the necessary nutrients needed to stop any joint issue from becoming a serious problem. Remember to eat smarter and harder than you train so you can continue on the tracks full speed ahead!