The altered lifestyle experienced during lockdown has had many adverse health consequences, one of which is increased pain and discomfort in joints.
Health experts advise that, through a dedicated regime of nutrients and exercise, joint stiffness and pain can be effectively managed.
“During lockdown, people either did many repetitive exercises and developed overuse joint injuries, or weren’t mobile enough and then came out of lockdown and got injured doing too much too soon,” said Lynne Mackey, a biokineticist at Kings Park Sport Medical Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, previous masters surf champion, and competitive marathon and trail runner.
“This year has also seen an increase in neck and back conditions due to home-based work set ups. This included using the wrong chair, the wrong desk height, overeating and a general lack of exercise.”
Mackey said there had also been an increase in the consumption of unhealthy foods which results in a depletion of the required nutrients for daily intake.
“I have seen a lot of earlier osteoarthritic conditions, as well as poor joint healing or continuous re-injury because of this, even in younger athletes.
Tackling joint pain through nutrition and exercise
“It is necessary to use a good nutritional supplement and adopt a healthy exercise regime to help strengthen and prevent such injuries. Walking is a great form of strengthening bones for patients suffering from osteoporosis.
“Gym work consisting of mobility, core and weight training provide a great platform to help keep your joints healthy and strong. Just remember that if you’re suffering from a condition, exercise should be done under the guidance of a professional.”
FUTURELIFE® dietician Bianca Tromp said the ingestion of collagen might benefit the maintenance of cartilage integrity.
“Cartilage is an elastic connective tissue and rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints, protecting them from friction and pressure as we move. Collagen is a major component of cartilage, and studies suggest that the consumption of collagen hydrolysate may potentially protect cartilage from degeneration, improving joint health by reducing pain and inflammation. This leads to better mobility and reduced pain.”
She said that another common cause of joint stiffness and pain was inflammation, which could be reduced by introducing omega-3 into one’s diet.
“Omega-3 is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is used to treat and manage some cardiovascular conditions, as well as joint stiffness and pain.”
She advised that fatty fish – salmon, herring, sardines or pilchards – be consumed at least twice a week. For those who do not consume fish, plant sources of omega-3 include soy, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed can be substituted. Alternatively, omega-3 can be consumed as a capsule supplement – although it’s important to check with a health-care professional before taking the supplements.