joint pain

Don’t Let Joint Pain Force You To The Sidelines

joint pain in the kneeWe talk a lot about muscle cramps, but what about joint pain?  Runners and triathletes (as well as the normal people), tend to get joint pain in their knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, and hands/fingers – especially in association with arthritis.

So, we’ve put together our Top 10 Joint Pain Remedies, as well as a couple resources with even more ideas!

Please remember – these are NOT medical opinions or in any way intended to replace medical care.  If you feel you need medical care, or anyone you know thinks so…go get it!  And listen to them.

Top 10 Joint Pain Remedies

  1. Recovery e21.
    Shocking, right – we love our own product!  haha.  But it also helps tremendously!  A big part of the advantage of e21 is the ability to “train harder & go faster”, as the tagline states.  By easing the tension in muscles caused by a lack/deficiency of magnesium and other electrolytes, e21 effectively helps with joint pain.  Less tension on the muscles pulling your joints in different directions, the less pain.  In addition, e21 is a NATURAL JOINT REMEDY.  It’s formulated from a micro-algae, so you’re not pumping your body full of nasty chemicals you don’t even know you’re taking.  We’re all for pain relief at times (see #8: NSAIDS), but the less of that stuff we can put in our bodies the better.
  2. Ice.
    I’ve read about icing being controversial lately, but I tend to use personal experience.  I also read that stretching does absolutely nothing physiologically to help us, yet every time I stretch after I workout…I feel better.  And there will be another study next week that says “stretching is the best thing ever!”  I just do what works.  And for me, icing provides instant relief.  I’m a typical triathlete, I simply buy the cheapest bag of frozen peas I can find and use them for 20minutes at a time, then throw them back in the freezer.  They are movable and easy to mold around joints, so they’re perfect!
  3. Epsom Salt Baths. 
    I seriously thought this was a wives tale until I tried it.  I was having a lengthy struggle with minor plantar fasciitis, and I tried epsom salt baths once to twice per day.  What a difference!  It also provides some minor pain relief, so it’s doing double duty!
  4. Get Stronger Muscles. 
    I’m not talking about becoming a steroid monster, but working on functional strength can really help those aching joints.  Stronger muscles = less muscle fatigue (or longer to fatigue) = less pulling on your joints = less pain.  It’s hard to work on getting stronger when your joints are achey and painful, so this is best explored during a time when your knee or other joints aren’t inflamed and angry.
  5. Drink Lots of Water. 
    Can that really help?  Yes!  Keeping yourself hydrated keeps your muscles and joints with proper fluid levels and can greatly reduce inflammation and pain.  If you have a really hard time sticking to water, check this out: FruiTea2Go.com.  It’s a fruit infuser water bottle, and you can flavor your water to avoid boredom and continue to drink as much as your body needs.
  6. Oil Up! 
    Add in plenty of anti-inflammatory oils in your food, or use other supplements.  This is not by any means a medical opinion, but my experience has shown that this stuff is like oil for a vehicle.  Without it, everything stops.
  7. Ointments and Salves.
    I’ve heard of people using extra virgin olive oil on their joints, icy hot, Ben Gay, etc. These do tend to move away from natural into more chemicals, so you need to make personal choices on what you want to do here.  We’ll include a couple resources below the top-10 list with ideas on more natural options.
  8. NSAIDs.
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.  Think Advil or Ibuprofin.  Again, these are far from “natural” products, but they do supply some pain relief.  Overuse can cause a host of other problems, so this is not recommended for long-term use.
  9. Stop Cutting Fat Out Of Your Diet.
    Yes, I said it.  Eat some fat.  Our country has been obsessed with a low-fat (becoming high sugar) diet for a very long time, and we need to correct some improper thinking.  Eating fat, in moderation of course, isn’t a bad thing.  And it can help your body balance the way it’s supposed to.  You can be choosy in the fats you want to eat – fish oils, avocado, etc are all great sources of fats!
  10. Think Ahead. 
    The biggest key is to get ahead of joint pain before it happens.  Once you’re joints are inflamed and unhappy, it’s a lot harder to calm them down that it is to treat them with some of the natural choices above before you even have a problem.  If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late this time, but maybe you’ll remember next time!  In the meantime, you may want to try some or all of the suggestions above or our resources below.

So, these are great but you want some more ideas?  With everything from Cayenne peppers to molasses…here are a couple sources to help with other natural ideas on helping joint pain:

8 Natural Remedies for Joint Pain

Joint Pain Relief: 6 Tips to Help Your Aching Joints

14 Home Remedies for Arthritis & Joint Pain

Hey – What About Us Normal People!

We write about athletes a lot here, it’s true.

I’m Not An Athlete & I Get Leg Cramps!

It’s true, Recovery e21 helps a lot of people outside the athletic realm.  So it’s LONG overdue to write a bit about those cases as well.  I will talk forever about triathlon, given the chance, so forgive me for going on and on about it without talking about the rest of you.

What causes these leg cramps?

There are a lot of theories, of course.  What I increasingly find to be true is that there are some people who are just prone to cramping.  For whatever reason, our bodies don’t naturally manage electrolytes as well as most people.  Yes, I said “our bodies” – I’m one of you.  While I would never refer to myself as “normal”, I do belong to this group.  haha.

We’ve written a lot about the sodium-potassium pump, and why we need electrolytes, so please review those articles if you’d like to learn more about some of the underlying causes of muscle cramps.

Here are several of the common types of cramps

1.  Calf Cramps.  This has got to be the most common kind of cramping.  These usually occur during the night, when you are otherwise relaxed.  And suddenly there is a massive knot screaming in your calf…followed immediately by you screaming and waking up the neighborhood.  Every cramp I’ve ever had has been painful…but these are killer.  Especially when they strike unexpectedly like that.

2.  Foot Cramps.  Do you get these?  I’ll admit, this usually happens when I’m swimming.  But not ALWAYS, so it counts for the non-athletes as well!  These are awful!!  They can occur in either foot, either right under the arch or on the outside bottom of the foot.  I suppose technically a cramp can occur anywhere there is a muscle, but those are the common areas.

3.  Arm Muscle Spams.  I might lose my “normal” status with this one, but this is one I personally get a lot.  It’s more of a spasm than a cramp, but a muscle group in my arm will start firing and won’t stop.  I’ve had them in my bicep, forearm, and one time in my triceps.  That one hurt, though these cramps are less painful and more…annoying.  The muscle will just twitch and twitch for hours.

4.  Quad Cramps.  We’ve just about covered the whole leg at this point!  Quad cramps will leave you motionless, and I personally have had them so bad they shot up into my spine and I was in agony.  This one will leave you totally immobilized for awhile.  It also leaves residual “soreness” after the cramp subsides.

What Do I Do About It?

Your experience may vary, but I find the following to help:

1.  Prevent them in the first place!  I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but there are things you can do to help.  Read up on our prevention articles on the site, and e21 really does help.  You can get it here on our site.  We have many clients that get leg cramps at night and have had tremendous success with e21.  To the point that our office gets panic-sounding calls if their supplies run low without getting noticed.

2.  Put weight on them.  Try this at your own risk!!  I personally have had success getting cramps to ease by putting my body weight on them.  It is possible for this to send the cramp to “infinity and beyond”, so seriously try this at your own risk.  It helps for me sometimes, but if it backfires you will be in a lot of pain.  I would test it on a more minor cramp first.

3.  Stay hydrated.  While I think some of us tend to be crampers, I think hydration plays a large role.  Stay hydrated and eat properly.

Is Any Of This Stuff a Cure?

No.  I don’t think there really is a cure.  But by following these steps I have personally cut my cramping down to about 5-10% of what it used to be.  If I can prevent 90%-95% of my cramps with a few simple steps…I’m all for it.  Those of you that suffer with cramps are all nodding your heads in agreement!

If you have any other ideas, please share in the comments!

Why Does Our Body Need Electrolytes?

It seems that there is plenty of information out there about how much electrolyte different products contain, and plenty of electrolyte products (including our own!), but we’re left with one question:

Why does our body need electrolytes?person cycling

Good question.  And to answer it, let’s go back to some basic science classes.  Sorry if this dredges up memories of angst-filled teen years in high school, but it must be done!

As you may or may not recall, our bodies are composed largely of water.  While the numbers vary quite a bit due to age, health, sex, etc, this amount is approximately 60% water for an adult.    Our bodies rely on water for survival!

But our bodies just don’t have a “water storage facility”… there is water in our muscles, organs, and our blood stream.  And, like there is no water storage, the water is not pure H2O…there are elements (ahem…electrolytes!) within these body parts and systems.

These electrolytes are vital for cellular function!  For example, the sodium/potassium pump, as explained in a previous post.

To simplify things, let’s just look at those 2 electrolytes – sodium and potassium.  If you’re not in balance, you go into “hyper” (too much) state, or “hypo” (not enough) state.  Now we’ve got 2×2, so we end up with 4 States:

  • Hyponatremia
  • Hypernatremia
  • Hypokalemia
  • Hyperkalemia

Now let’s look at those fancy names in a little more detail.

Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia is a state of low sodium balance within our bodies.  The nasty things this can cause are headache, weakness, nausea, and as it gets more severe it leads to confusion, seizures, coma, and even death.  If you drink a lot of water and don’t add any electrolytes, you can become hyponatremic.  Does this mean you need to always include sodium when you drink?  Absolutely not! But you need to be aware of the balance.

Why don’t we always add sodium?  Because it can lead to:

Hypernatremia

The first symptom of hypernatremia is thirst.  I suppose this isn’t surprising because your body is trying to add water to dilute the sodium!  Then, confusingly, the symptoms mimic those of hyponatremia.  So, if you always add electrolytes, don’t drink any water alone, or have diarrhea or are experiencing vomiting…you may be getting hypernatrmic.

Hypokalemia

Let’s turn our attention to potassium.  A low potassium level has the symptoms of irritability, general discomfort, irregular heartbeat, and even paralysis.  Except for paralysis, this is obviously difficult to diagnose in athletes!  Are we irritable and sore from the hill repeats, or is our potassium low?

Hyperkalemia

This one is pretty scary.  It’s usually only caused by extreme kidney problems, but symptoms include heart problems (including stoppage), weakness, numbness, and a tingling feeling.  Needless to say, if you suspect you may have overdone it with potassium and are having these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately!

Now What Do We Do?

Now that we know some of the common issues with “hypo-” and “hyper-” in terms of a couple common electrolytes, what does this mean for us?

It’s very important for cellular function to avoid these extremes.  How can you get there?  Well, if you do an Ironman and don’t take in any electrolytes and it’s a hot day and you drink a lot of water… you can end up hyponatremic.  On the flip side, in that same Ironman  if you take 2 salt pills every 30 minutes all day long you can easily end up hypernatremic or hyperkalmic (depending on the tablet contents).

So, what do we do?  It’s all about balance!  Avoid extremes (I know – that’s a tall order for athletes!), and be aware of your water and electrolyte intake.  Are you starting to get a headache and you haven’t taken in any salt?  You might be leaning towards hyponatremia.  Have you eaten 20 bananas today and your arms/hands are tingling?  You might be hyperkalemic – get to a doctor immediately!

It may sound like common sense…and it is.  However, I’ve found common sense to be rather rare.  I know there’s a famous quote along those lines – if you know what it is drop it into the comments!

The Weather, She Is Warming

It’s starting to get warmer out there!

For many, that means finally getting off the trainer…away from the dreadmill…into open water.  In other words:

Go Outside!

What a great time of the year.  It’s finally warm enough to do the things we love outside.  Kids are playing baseball, non-cyclists are riding their beach cruisers all over the place, and the temperatures are rising.  You can smell the barbeques every time you ride or run near a park, and the rest of the world has come out of hibernation.

All these things are fantastic!

One thing to remember, though, is that you have to watch your electrolyte balance this time of year.  Those of us that are inclined to cramping find ourselves grabbing our calves, quads, etc in screaming agony more often as the temps shoot up.

Logically, this makes sense.  When it’s warmer, we sweat more.  If you live in an extreme environment such as Arizona or Florida, you really realize how much you sweat based on the look and feel of your clothing as you go about your day!  Ha!  But even if you don’t live in that sort of environment, you are probably sweating more than you think.

So, the bottom line is that it’s time to ensure you keep your electrolytes in check.  Our favorite source is, of course, e21.  That’s probably not a surprise on the e21 site!  Ha!  But we bring this product to you because we use it, not the other way around.

My Top 3 Reason I Prefer Recovery e21

1.  No added sugars.  Sports drinks are great and all, as are some of our competitor’s products, but I personally don’t need to add an unnecessary 14g of sugar per serving to my diet.

2.  All natural.  Again, with all due respect to any competitive products, e21 is all natural, all organic, and formulated from micro-algae.  I don’t need or want any “added” fillers or other crap in my electrolyte products.

3.  They work.  It’s as simple as that.  I’ve been on a ride and started to feel crampy, I pop 2 e21 and within a few minutes those cramping feeling subside.  Cool deal!

So there you have it.  The temperatures are rising, which means more cramping issues for the next several months.  Stock up on your favorite electrolyte replacement and be prepared….it’s no fun being caught without any supplies when cramps set in!