Nagging joint and muscle injuries can limit winter wonderland fun. Nothing sucks more than having to hear about how epic the slopes were from your friends while you were stuck inside icing your knee and watching reruns of CSI: Kansas. So here are some things beyond warming up and stretching you can do to reduce the risk of injuries and keep you out playing in the snow.
Protein and Veggies
Eating protein at each meal, especially breakfast, helps maintain a steady blood-sugar level and prevent muscle and ligament breakdown. Eating eggs, meat, and fish is like putting a log on the fire—it burns slow and steady. Eating breads, pastas, potatoes, and cereals is like putting paper on the fire—it burns really hot and fast, leaving us wanting more. This may be fine for a one-night stand in Italy, but not for joint health. Even healthy non-hypoglycemic people experience a drop in blood sugar after eating high-carbohydrate foods, causing the adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscles and ligaments to try to raise blood-sugar levels until we eat again. Over time, this can set us up for injuries and slow the healing process.
In addition to protein, eat lots of vegetables with each meal. Vegetables are high in minerals, vitamins, and flavonoids needed for joint health. The best way to get the variety of vitamins, minerals, and other components the body needs is to eat vegetables of each color every day. Remember that multivitamin supplements do not replace the need to eat vegetables.
Nutrition isn't just about what food we send down the tunnel; that food needs to be adequately digested and absorbed for it to be beneficial. Cooking our own food, smelling the aroma of our food, sitting down and relaxing while eating, and chewing each bite 31 times improves digestion and nutrient absorption, especially minerals. Eating on the go, cooking with a microwave, driving, or watching TV while eating all inhibit digestion and decrease absorption.
Sleep is when the body repairs itself. Getting eight hours of sleep each night and going to bed before midnight helps us stay healthy. If an injury does happen, you'll need quality sleep to heal.
Staying hydrated helps keep muscles supple. For a healthy person, a good rule of thumb is to drink one half the body weight in ounces each day. Increase that amount with increased activity. Beer does contain water, but sadly it doesn’t count toward your water intake.
This traditional healing recipe is great for maintaining joint health and healing from injuries. Bone broth provides us with all the minerals needed to maintain and heal bones, cartilage, and joints in the physiologic amounts. Find some fantastic bone broth recipes at westonaprice.org/food-features/515-broth-is-beautiful.
Dr. Lou Walters is a Naturopathic Physician at The Source Wellness Center in Bozeman. For more information call 556-0307 or visit thesourcewellnesscenter.com.