Tis the season to decorate your tree, hang stockings, and stroll around the neighborhood admiring cheery Christmas lights — and wouldn’t it be great to do it all with hips and knees that felt strong, healthy, and ache-free? You can! Experts say these simple strategies can end joint pain fast, plus prevent future flare-ups.
Best Move: Thigh stretches
Once each hour, take 30 seconds to touch your toes or do a simple lunge. A study in the International Journal of Yoga suggests that keeping thigh muscles limber reduces strain on hip and knee joints, cutting swelling and pain by up to 72 percent. More good news: UCLA researchers say every time you stand up, you’re strengthening your gluteal muscles — those that extend from your rear end around your hips-and that can increase knee and hip strength by 30 percent!
Best Extra: Omega-3s
Cutting hip and knee pain by 70 percent could be as easy as taking 3,500 mg. to 4,000 mg. of omega-3 daily, report researchers in the Global Journal of Health Science. Explains neurologist Joseph Maroon, M.D., healing omega-3 fats reduce inflammation, stiffness, and swelling as effectively as daily doses of ibuprofen. Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
Best Lotion: Comfrey Cream
Gently massage a dollop of comfrey cream into the side and front of a sore hip (or all over an achy knee), and you could cut your stiffness and pain by 33 percent in the first hour, and by 94 percent if you do it three times daily, British researchers say. Thanks goes to two comfrey compounds (allantoin and rosmarinic acid), which block the formation of pain-triggering enzymes, plus promote healing of damaged joint tissues. We love this one from Dr. Christopher’s (Buy on Amazon, $11.99).
Best Drink: Aloe Spritzer
Adding one ounce of fresh aloe vera to sparkling water and blending until frothy could be the delicious secret to an ache-free season. Research published in Molecules suggests aloe can reduce joint pain and swelling by up to 55 percent.
Explains immunologist Barb Balan, M.D., aloe is rich in plant compounds (salicylic acid and sterols) that suppress joint inflammation, block fluid buildup and speed healing.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.