Are Your Muscles Sore and Joints Hurting? Here’s What You Should be Eating

Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someoneFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

When I first started cross country in high school I would go to sleep in a homemade pajama of Ben Gay slathered all over my sore legs. And then each morning at 5 am my sister would have to pry me out of bed for our newspaper route. As I threw one sore leg after the other off the bed I absolutely dreaded the thought of running, a necessary task since she made me go to the houses with the dogs that chased us and the sketchy places by the woods (I’m the youngest). If you too have tried Ben Gay, massage, ice packs or any other modality for trying to decrease muscle soreness and keep your joints moving, it’s time to fight exercise-induced inflammation through your diet.

Here’s what I’ll cover in this post (and as shared on Talk of Alabama this morning – see their website for more information):

  • The top two foods you need to decrease muscle soreness
  • Foods that keep your joints healthy

Talk of Alabama

Decreasing Muscle Soreness

When it comes to exercise, some inflammation is good and actually essential for muscle growth and repair. But, excess inflammation can lead to muscle cell damage and that feeling like you couldn’t possibly get off the couch for days. So, I recommend athletes include tart cherry juice into their regular nutrition regimen as a preventative measure. Research shows **tart cherry juice can help decrease exercise-induced muscle soreness and inflammation. Try it in a shake or check out my gelatin chews below.

Research from the University of Georgia found 2 grams of ginger, either fresh ginger or in spice form (they tested McCormick ginger), helps reduce muscle pain when consumed daily for 11 days prior to exercise testing. I have a few recipes below you might want to try. Also, check out Reed’s Ginger Brew (it is like ginger ale but made from real ginger with 17 grams per bottle!).

Keeping Your Joints Moving

Fatty fish including salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies etc. contain long chain omega-3 fatty acids that have modest anti-inflammatory effects and have been shown to decrease cartilage breakdown (cartilage is like a sponge that cushions your joints so they can easily glide on top of one another) and inflammation in cell culture studies. In addition, research studies show these fatty acids can improve several symptoms associated with *rheumatoid arthritis and possibly even decrease the need for anti-inflammatory drugs. *Always talk to your physician if you have a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Plus, there are two types of plant-based foods you should focus on. Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower, pineapple, kiwi. Vitamin C is necessary for repairing and maintaining cartilage and higher intakes are associated with less severe cartilage breakdown. In addition to vitamin C, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain an antioxidant that may improve bone formation and decrease bone breakdown. And finally, ginger is also effective for reducing joint pain though you have to consume it regularly over several weeks (500 mg ginger extract was used). 

Cherry Ginger Smoothie

Ingredients
8 oz. vanilla soymilk
1 scoop unflavored or vanilla whey protein (if using unflavored you may need to add a sweetener)
½ cup frozen tart cherries
2 tsp. (or more if desired) fresh cut ginger
Ice as desired

Directions
Add vanilla soymilk to blender followed by the rest of the ingredients in order. Blend until smooth.

Honey Ginger Salmon

Ingredients
4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz. each)
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp. ginger spice
3 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce

Directions
Mix all ingredients except salmon in a bowl. Place marinade and salmon in large resealable plastic bag so that marinade coats salmon fillets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. Remove salmon fillets and grill 6 to 8 minutes per side or bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.

Fig Cherry Ginger Chews

Ingredients
13 dried figs
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix throughly. Take small portions out and make small balls. If you want them even sweeter, roll finished balls in cane sugar or powdered coconut sugar.

Tart Cherry Gelatin

Ingredients
2 packets gelatin mix
2 cups tart cherry juice
3 tsp fresh ginger

Directions
Boil 1.5 cups tart cherry juice. While juice is boiling place remaining 1/2 tart cherry juice in a bowl and mix in gelatin packets. Let sit for at least one minute. When juice is finished boiling mix it into juice & gelatin mixture until throughly blended. Add 3 tsp. fresh grated ginger and 1 – 2 Tbsp. sugar if desired. Place mixture in an 8×8 pan and refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from refrigerator and enjoy!

** TV segment, but not post, sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute

My Anti-Inflammatory Stack

Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someoneFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Lately I’ve got bad tendonitis. Too much typing, not enough stretching or massage, not following the RICE protocol, whatever the contributing factors are, all I know is that it hurts and popping NSAIDS is beyond useless. If you’ve spent your fair share of quality time in training rooms, in ice baths (I’m sold on these after my experience with them at Athlete’s Performance Institute), with a stem machine and more, you know how frustrating it is to be injured. And while there’s typically no one modality that works perfectly to fight pain and inflammation, a variety of things can help get you back to practice. And, nutrition plays an important role so, I developed my own concoction or “stack” (partly because I love mixing stuff together).

So here it is and below this a little why on the ingredients I chose:

  • Milk
  • Protein powder that’s rich in BCAAs (I used Isatori’s Eat Smart because it blends well and Muscle Milk Light Chocolate Mint)
  • Fresh cut pineapple
  • Frozen mango
  • Fresh ginger (peeled of course; I put in a nice 1 inch x 1/2 inch chunk)
  • Blueberries or frozen acai

There are 2 things missing that I could have added: caffeine and fish oil (though you can down this by pill form with any meal).

Now the rationnale:

  • Milk is loaded with high quality protein, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and it tastes good so that’s my base.
  • I added protein (and high quality protein rich in branched chain amino acids)because it is key for building and repairing muscle.
  • Next I threw in an anti-inflammatory cocktail starting with fresh pineapple which is loaded with bromelain which fights inflammation;
  • Mango – may help with inflammation and makes my shake nice and thick!
  • Ginger – two studies at my alma mater UGA shows that 2 grams of ginger per day helps reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.
  • Red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables contain antioxidant flavonoids that may limit inflammation, limit tissue breakdown, improve circulation and promote a nice strong collagen matrix.
  • Caffeine post exercise (granted, you may need a nice strong dose since studies have used 5 mg/kg body weight) can decrease delayed onset muscle soreness and pain after hard core exercise. If you want it in shake form, use a protein powder that contains caffeine or use cold coffee as your base.

And there you have it! My research-based, tastes great shake. Now if only I could incorporate the RICE technique somewhere on a beach overlooking blue ocean water, I’d be pain free!