Friday, January 18, 2013

Foods That Heal

So many years on the court has made for sore joints!

  Achy knees? Sore ankles? Yeah, me too.

  After years and years and years of constant pounding, running, and cutting, my joints are starting to get a little angry at me. I'm actually a tad surprised it took this long.

  Being somewhat crippled (I say that jokingly now) as I grow older has always been in the back of my mind. But running, jumping, cutting, all in all: abusing my body, is part of the job. There's no way around it. I'm just trying not to let 'somewhat crippled' become a reality.

  This season, for the first time ever, I've had sore knees. And more often than not, I wake up to ankles that take a few minutes to warm up when I first jump out of bed in the morning.

  My question is this: can I stop it?

  I'm a person who, no matter how long my career as a basketball player lasts, will always be active. I've blogged about how much I enjoy running. And working out, and being active on a daily basis will always be a part of my lifestyle. Not doing anything isn't an option.

I may need more than the occasional physio tape.
  Sure, I can adjust. I can swim, I can bike. I can do lower-impact activities. But I don't enjoy them nearly as much.

  Outside of changing my activities, what can I do?

No Drugs
  I don't like taking pills. Whether it's over-the-counter medication or prescription, taking pills is my last resort -- only in extreme situations. They are extremely hard on our bodies, and only mask the under-lying issue. I have a future blog on NSAIDs -- Advil, Aleve, etc -- in the works, to explain why I'd rather not take pills. But that's for another day.

  We know how to aid our muscles' recovery, but what about our joints'? I'm trying to find other solutions. Solutions that are easier on our bodies than pills.  

Tart Cherry Juice
  Tart Cherry Juice affects the body's ability to recover from strenuous activity. Mostly, it aids the body in muscle repair after exercise and strength training. Because the juice also has notable anti-inflammatory capabilities, it can alleviate joint pain (due to arthritis, gout, and I'm hoping, over-use).

  A study done on Hood to Coast (a 196-mile relay in Oregon) reported that runners experienced significantly less pain after the race if they drank tart cherry juice in the week leading up to the race.

  Other tart cherry juice benefits: it's very high in anti-oxidants -- including the heavy-hitter Quercetin (see below), and it's a natural source of melatonin, so it may help you sleep more-peacefully!

  Dosage: Eight to 12 ounces, twice per day (the equivalent of 100 tart, or Montmorency, cherries per day).

What I loaded up on during Christmas.
  One downfall: The stuff is a little pricey. Make sure it's 100% tart cherry juice or concentrate! When I first looked for it at the store this summer, I found watered-down, or other juice-mixers, were easier to find (and easier on the wallet!). So if you're looking for the benefits, make sure it's 100% tart cherry!

  If you're curious, sweet cherries have not been shown to have the same effect.

  I tried tart cherry juice on occasion this past summer. But I didn't drink it often enough to really decide if it was anything that was of benefit to me. Since my knees and ankles were achy the first half of the season, I thought I'd give it a try during the second half of the season. So, I came back to France with a couple bottles of tart cherry juice concentrate.

  I will be diligent in the dosage, and let you know what I think!

Healing Foods
  We can help heal ourselves with food instead of pills. Believe it or not, our diets can provide a lot of healing powers. Even when injured, what we eat can actually get us back on our feet sooner rather than later!

  Here are a few easy ways to adjust our diets:

  Foods can hurt us, or they can help us. Instead of opening up the medicine cabinet, let's give our food a chance to be our medicine.

  As always, if you have any tips or tricks, I'd love to hear them!



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