Have you ever wondered what causes our bodies to get injured during a pick-up game of basketball at the age of 45, when we played the same pick-up game as a 25-year-old without feeling an ounce of soreness? How many middle-aged people do you know that end up with a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) after a spontaneous game of soccer?
Everyone knows that our bodies change as we age, but what does that look like up close at the joints? And, more importantly, what can we can do to keep them younger for longer? We are going to answer these questions for you and tell you about some awesome 100% natural herbal products you can use to help heal injuries and pain, as well as to condition joints and connective tissue. (Skip to the bottom if you just want to know about the products!)
Decreases in Muscle Fibers
As you age, there is usually a decrease in the size and number of muscle fibers, especially if you’re sedentary. This causes your remaining muscle tissue to have a slower response time.
Almost everyone experiences a noticeable change in their quickness as they approach their 40’s and 50’s. This puts more stress on the remaining muscle fibers when they try to perform at the same level, and that extra stress raises their risk of strains and pulled muscles.
Lower Cardiac Output
The heart’s a muscle too, so when it starts performing at a lower level, less blood is delivered to your muscles and joints for fuel and for recovery. You’ll notice that your endurance capacity isn’t what it used to be, and that recovering from strenuous work takes longer. When full recovery takes longer, it’s easier to build up cumulative damage to a point where something tears.
Fluid Loss in Connective Tissues
At any age, connective tissue has a very low blood supply compared to other tissues, so things like nutrient delivery and recovery time are always fairly slow compared to tissues like muscle and skin.
But as you age, the challenge deepens because there is often an over-all loss of water in tendon, ligaments and cartilage, which makes them lose some of their cushion and flexibility.
Rigidity makes them more vulnerable to stress. So, when you are coming back down from that jump shot in basketball, the Achilles tendon in your heel is not going to provide as much shock absorbing help and can tear in the process. Combine lower cardiac output and higher stress, and tendons (which are like fibrous chords that attach muscles to bone) can reach a point where they never have time to fully recover. Damage accumulates until a joint is chronically inflamed (For more on this, see our article on tendonitis.)
Ligaments (which connect bone to bone) have an even weaker blood supply than tendons and can be particularly hard to repair when damage accumulates. Cartilage, which has no blood supply at all, can also suffer the same kind of cumulative damage. Just like ligaments and tendons, it loses its water content, providing less cushion and making it more likely to be damaged when stress is placed on a joint. Constant joint loads can wear it away until signs of arthritis start showing up.
What Can You Do About It?
You may be thinking, “If cartilage has no blood supply at all, how does it get its water content?”
Good question. The simple answer is: from movement.
When joints are in motion, and doing work, the joint cavity fills with something called synovial fluid (which rests in a thick, almost buttery state, but then ‘melts’ into a joint lubricant when you move) and it’s that fluid that brings water and the rest of the nutrients the joints need.
There’s plenty of evidence in the world demonstrating that your physical age does not have to be the same as your chronological age. You’ve probably seen a few examples yourself … Massai runners running miles with young men half their age and fathering children well into their 80’s. Yogis and masters of martial arts in their 70’s who look like they’re not a day over 40, still able to perform intense feats of strength and flexibility.
What do they all have in common? They’ve stayed active. They’ve challenged their joint tissues to stay flexible and given the water they drink a pathway for arriving at the joints on a daily basis. They’ve challenged their muscles to the point where their fibers have had a reason to stick around.
Because of genetics and other health factors, some aspects of aging soft tissue are unpredictable. But there’s one thing that is predictable, and that’s the positive effects of exercising and stretching muscles.
Why Motion and Challenge are the Answer
Physiology experts of all shades, including the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, confirm that the most effective way to slow age-related changes in muscles, ligaments, and joints is by remaining active in ways that both stretch and challenge muscles and connective tissue. It’s not just age, but the lack of movement and use of muscles that allow the aging process to speed up.
Even if you’re eating calcium and vitamin D rich foods, popping a handful of glucosamine and chondroitin pills, and drinking traditional bone broth, you still have to move those joints in order to help all that goodness get to where it can do some good.
Pilates, swimming, yoga and many other forms of exercise that incorporate flexibility simultaneously provide great benefits for joint health. The goal is to keep every part of the joint moving (with appropriate rest in between, of course.) Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, but it should be consistent, and it should at least be challenging enough to send the signal to your muscles that they have a reason to stick around.
Sometimes It’s Not What You “Know” That Matters …
No doubt you’ve heard this before. But sometimes we don’t need to learn something new. Sometimes we just need to be reminded about the importance of things we’ve already heard.
Keeping a very active lifestyle that includes regular exercise is more than just a good suggestion. It can create that critical difference between physical age and chronological age which is the key to preventing those middle-age injuries that occur when we least expect them.
Liniments Can Extend What Exercise Begins
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also suggest what TCM has known for hundreds of years: that certain liniments can have both a healing and conditioning effect on connective tissues and can have dramatic pain relieving effects:
- If its conditioning you’re after, it’s hard to do better than our Ancestors Advanced Dit Da Jow. If you know you need to strengthen a particular area of the body that has been weakened for some time or if you sustained an injury that has never fully healed, this is the formula for you.
- If you’re already dealing with a fresh painful and swollen or bruised injury, Bruise Juice is excellent for helping with the inflammation, redness/bruising, swelling and pain.
- Or, you can get the best of both worlds with Ho Family Dit Da Jow, our best selling formula, known for both its conditioning properties and its ability to reduce pain and accelerate healing from injuries caused by over usage. (Please note, this formula is NOT for fresh injuries where bruising and swelling are still present. This formula is best for chronic injury and pain.)
- If you still aren't quite sure which formula is best for your particular situation, we invite you to read our blog post on the best dit da jow for your training goals.
Here's what one of our many thrilled customers had to say about his experience using our Dit Da Jow:
Very interesting and useful.