Joint Health

Do Your Joints Know When a Storm Is Coming? These Natural Remedies Could Help Ease Your Pain

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Barometric pressure shifts can trigger sore joints, headaches and creaky knees. But soothing your discomfort is easier than you think. Try one of these natural remedies to ease your pain:

Calm Cranky Knees

Knees feeling a little creaky? Blame it on a sudden uptick in activity and flimsy spring footwear (hint: find better sandals here!). Luckily, British researchers say massaging your knees with a palmful of coconut oil for 2 minutes twice a day cuts symptoms by 60 percent in 48 hours. Healthy fats in the oil (medium-chain fatty acids) help relax spasming muscles, calm inflammation and block the production of pain hormones.

OR TAKE A MICRO WALK! Strolling at a relaxed pace for 2 minutes every half hour eases knee pain and stiffness by 55 percent within 24 hours by improving blood flow, according to a review of 23 studies.

Quiet Back Pain by Relaxing This Way

Damp weather from spring showers combined with pressure fluctuations in the air can cause your body’s tissues to expand and press painfully against joints in your spine. Ouch! To the rescue: a technique called “progressive muscle relaxation.” Just sit or lie comfortably as you tense then relax each major muscle group in your body from head to toe for about 10 seconds at a time. Unwind this way for a few minutes every day, and Spanish scientists say you’ll decrease back pain by an impressive 80 percent.

AND TRY THE PILLOW TRICK! One easy to way to speed recovery: Snooze with an extra pillow. Placing a pillow under your knees if you’re a back sleeper, or between your knees if you’re a side sleeper, takes 55 pounds of pressure off your back, say experts at the North American Spine Society. This helps inflamed spinal muscles heal more quickly.

Relax Achy Muscles with a Raspberry Parfait

When it comes to alleviating bothersome muscle aches, the solution is in your fridge. Australian investigators say savoring a heaping cup of raspberries daily (which taste great in a yogurt parfait, a leafy salad or over oatmeal) relieves discomfort more effectively than OTC painkillers. A red pigment called cyanidin in these juicy gems reins in the production of pain-triggering compounds to quickly halt aches.

OR UPGRADE YOUR COLD THERAPY! You know to drape a cool compress on sore muscles, but scientists at Marquette University in Milwaukee say there’s an easy trick to significantly improve pain relief: Apply a cooling menthol gel to your skin first. Lightly covering the menthol with a cloth followed by an ice pack reduces blood flow to the injured area better than either method alone, rapidly reducing painful swelling.

Ease a Headache with a Lunch Break

As your body adjusts to warmer days, Harvard scientists say erratic temperatures and humidity swings make you 36 percent more likely to get a headache. To keep pain at bay, pop outside around noon. Soaking up the sun’s rays (without sunscreen) for 15 minutes a day helps your body produce more inflammation-taming vitamin D. And research in the journal Scientific Reports shows those who have the highest levels of D are up to 113 percent less likely to have frequent headaches than people with the least.

AND TREAT YOUR FEET! Swedish scientists say walking barefoot along a bumpy surface, like a pebbled path, prods your body to release painkilling endorphins, cutting head pain by 50 percent in two minutes.

Soothe Sore Joints with a Golden Latte

Between extra walks around the neighborhood, spring cleaning and tending to your garden, it’s no wonder your joints feel tender. But before reaching for an OTC pain reliever, try brewing a hot or iced golden latte (a mix of turmeric tea and a splash of milk). Cornell scientists say compounds in turmeric shut down a pain-triggering enzyme, easing joint discomfort more effectively than aspirin or ibuprofen. The proven dose: two 6-oz. cups daily.

AND TURN ON THE TUNES! Cue up a playlist of your favorite songs, and you’ll dramatically ease joint pain in minutes. Why? Johns Hopkins scientists say music ups your brain’s output of pain-dulling hormones.

Speed Pain Relief with a Picture

When “weekend warrior” syndrome strikes and you’re feeling sore and stiff after a busy day, take a short break to scroll through your favorite family snapshots on social media, or flip through an old photo album. Research in the journal PLOS ONE found that seeing images of someone you love activates the reward center of your brain, short-circuiting pain signals, so you feel relief in minutes.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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