How squatting can help your aching joints

As we age, one of the first things many of us start to complain about are those “aches and pains.”

We’re just not is lithe and flexible as we once were. Reaching for that box on the top shelf might just cause us to strain something.

And, many of us will develop osteoarthritis.

Not to be confused with rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, osteoarthritis is the wear and tear that happens when your joint cartilage wears away from overuse, obesity, or just plain aging.

Your joints become achy and stiff. It may take a bit of time to stand perfectly straight in the morning. Bending over, climbing stairs, or grabbing things may be difficult and painful.

And squatting, well… that may be downright impossible!

But in some parts of the world, squatting is a daily habit for young and old alike. And, apparently, squatting may be one way to keep our joints healthy…

Why don’t we squat anymore?

There are a few interesting reasons that squatting is generally looked upon as something only kids do when they’re digging in the dirt.

The first has to do with the evolution of our toileting habits. That’s right. Holes in the ground, outhouses, even chamber pots, required us to squat. The development of seated toilets, along with the plumbing that empties them, has deprived us of our biggest opportunity to flex our squatting muscles.

The other reason is cultural. Can you imagine squatting in the three-piece suit or fitted skirts that are the uniform in many modern offices? This presents a problem for our hip joints, since keeping them healthy is a case of “use it or lose it.”

Movement lubricates our joints

Every joint in your body has synovial fluid. It’s the oil that keeps our cartilage lubricated. It also nourishes the cartilage on each end of the bone.

Movement and compression are the two things required to produce this fluid. So, when you don’t bend a joint, your body thinks you don’t need to produce as much fluid.

Nowadays, we seldom put our hips and knees through their full range of motion, never bending them past 90 degrees. So your body gets the wrong message: make less synovial fluid. Consequently, your joints become less lubricated… stiff… arthritic.

It’s unlikely that we’re going to become a culture full of squatters any time soon. But if you can make a practice of squatting on occasion — at least at home — certainly give it a try.

You might find it improves several ills all at once. But if your knees and hips just can’t handle it, what else can you do to ensure your joints stay lubricated and flexible?

If your joints are already arthritic, you can receive injections to help with lubrication. Down the road, you’re looking at joint replacement.

Or … you can eat more oranges!

Vitamin C: A natural lubricant

Although it may be best known as an antidote for the common cold, ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, helps your body produce collagen, the protein found in all connective tissue.

In fact, one of the first signs of a vitamin C deficiency is chronic pain in the limbs and joints, as less collagen is produced, and elasticity decreases.

Research has shown the connection between vitamin C and joint health.

A 2011 study at the University of South Florida reported that people who took vitamin C supplements were 11% less likely to develop osteoarthritis than those who took no supplements.

And a recent study that looked at nearly 5,000 individuals found that insufficient vitamin C was related to back and neck pain, and to self-reported cases of rheumatism and limited mobility due to joint pain.

What to eat

Vitamin C-rich foods are abundant and varied. Citrus fruits, of course, are high on the list. But you’ll also want to consider:

  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Acerola cherries
  • Tomatoes

Editor’s note: If you suffer from chronic pain and conventional medicine has let you down, or you just want to escape the potential dangers of OTC and prescription drugs even for occasional pain, you must read Dr. Mark Wiley’s guide, Conquering the Pain: An Alternative Doctor’s Fresh Look at the Newest and Oldest in Alternative Pain Therapies. Click here for a preview of what you’ll find!

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.