Category Archives: Joint Health

When Beauty Is Very Much More Than Skin Deep

Collagen is mainly known as a beauty product, but it is so very much more.  Collagen is a structural protein which accounts for about 1/3 of the bodies total protein.  Every element of our bodies contain collagen.  From the beauty perspective, this includes skin, hair and nails.  From a more important health perspective (depending on your view-point) this includes connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles, which is why I now take it.

Just over a decade ago, collagen was only really available topically or  injected as a beauty treatment.  It could not be taken internally as the collagen was usually attached to a water molecule which was too big to be absorbed properly when taken orally.  However, special manufacturing techniques have been found to separate the collagen from the water so that it can be taken orally.  This means that collagen produced this way can now support the whole body, externally and internally, and not only at the site it is applied.

There two main types of collagen, with the wildly exotic names of “Type I” and “Type II”!

Type I collagen is mainly for the skin, hair and nails which is why it is enthusiastically endorsed by celebrities such as Lucy Liu, Gwen Stefani, Carol Vorderman and Martine McCutcheon.  However, as much as my friends(?) tell me that I need all the help I can get in the looks department, it is the internal benefits that interest me most.

In the city of Bath, UK, near to where I live; is a former British captain of the Olympic Modern Pentathlon team, James Greenwell.  Whilst training to compete for Great Britain in 2003, James snapped his archilles tendon.  This was considered a career ending injury and the medical team advised that it would probably be 12 weeks before he could even train again.  However, James was back in training in just over 3 weeks and was able to compete internationally again.  He believes this is due to using large quantities of collagen.  As a bonus, he also noticed that his skin improved as well.  Being in the modern pentathlon, he spent a lot of time swimming and fencing.  Chlorine in the water and extended periods in a hot sweaty fencing mask had taken its toll on his skin, the improvement was easy to see.

James was so impressed with the Collagen that set up his own company to market this brand manufactured with the new technology.  As I have reported earlier in this blog, I have had knee problems which adversely affected my Karate training.  I thought at one point that I may have to give it up.  However, I have used orthotics to correct the structure of my legs (collapsed arch leading to knee problems) and have also taken collagen and ginger to help my joints.  There is a vast improvement in knees now.  I can’t say how much is down to each element.  Certainly the orthotics played the main part in correcting my leg structure, thus reducing pain.  However, it never completely cured the problem and having started taking the collagen as well, I do find that it helps to further alleviate the problem to the extent that although still get some discomfort, I have actually been able to produce an instruction DVD on Kicking.

I’ll provide more of the science in the next posting.  In the meantime, although he’s not as pretty as Lucy Lui here’s a James himself to tell you a bit more about the benefits of collagen:-

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Why You Should Be Kind To Your Feet (Part 2)

I wrote back in May 2009 about orthotics (inserts in your shoes) which correct the way you walk when the arches of your feet collapse, causing your foot to pronate.  Pronation can lead to knee and even back problems if left unattended for too long.  I reported back then that I was advised to wear orthotics as I was getting a lot of knee pain during my Karate training.

Having been wearing orthotics for nearly a year, I thought I would report back and share my experience with anybody else who might be having similar problems.  Firstly, I have to say having just got back into my Karate training back then after a long time off, I was wondering if I would be able to continue due to the amount of pain that I was getting in my knees.  Now almost a year later, I can say that my knees are very much better and training is a lot easier.  The orthotics have made a considerable difference.

However, I am still getting some discomfort in my knees, so I decided to see if I could take it further.  The orthotics that I was wearing were an off-the-shelf pair.  Having consulted a good osteopath and podiatrist, I was told that due to my fallen arches, I was walking slightly knock kneed.  This had resulted in the inner thigh muscles becoming weaker.  As the knee-joint is largely held in place by the surrounding muscles, when I did any physical activity, the outer thigh muscles would pull the kneecap outwards.  To add to this, during normal walking, we are supposed to balance with the small toes and push-off with the big toe, but my big toe joint had become stiff and I was pushing of on the small toes.  I’m a mess I thought!  And this is after significant improvement in my knees.

As a result I have had a personalised pair of orthotics made.  These have an angle of about 4% on the heel, to correct the pronation.  They also have a recess under the base of the big toe to  make that joint work more and loosen it up.

In the first photo, you can see the raised support for the arch of the foot.

In the second photo you can see the angle on the heel, to correct pronation.

In the third photo you can see the recess at the base of the big toe to make that joint work better.

I would recommend to anybody having similar joint problems to looking into have your own made to measure orthotics made up.  It is early days yet, but I will let you know how I get on with them.

Why You Should Be Kind To Your Feet

On average we take 8,000 – 10,000 steps per day and have 28 bones in each foot.  Yet despite this high demand of our feet, we tend to stick them in our socks/stockings and shoes, then forget about them (except for the unthinking expectation for them to serve us on demand).

Sometimes over time, the arches of the feet start to collapse.  When this happens, the foot will pronate (inward collapsing of the foot).  This means that you are bearing most of your weight on the inside of the pads of your feet rather than spreading the weight evenly.  As the body always adjust for any misalignment, your heel may twist the other way.  So when you walk, as well as rolling from heel to toe, you foot also rolls from the rear outer edge to the front inside edge.

Again, the body will continue to compensate until even your spine can be out of alignment.  Pronation of the feet can lead to hip, knee and back pain, shin splints, planter fasciitis, bunions, black toe, burning under the foot, blisters, swollen ankle joints, heel spurs and much more.  If you have any of these symptoms, a quick indicator as to whether pronation may be a factor is to check your shoes for uneven wear.  Look especially on the heel of the shoe to see if one side has worn down more than the other.

Women should particularly take note, as women have 4 times as many foot problems as men.  I would guess that this is due to high heeled shoes, but I don’t really know.

orthoticSo what can you do about it?  Firstly, go and see an expert such as an osteopath or chiropractic.  If they find that you are pronating, then they may suggest that you wear orthotics.  These are inserts that you put into your shoe which support the arch and restrict the heel from rotating.  After a period of time the foot should become used to this new position and (as with misalignment’s) it will adjust itself accordingly.  Except this adjustment will be back to how the body should be.  Many problems will disappear.  My knees have certainly improved since I’ve been wearing orthotics.

orthotic2Although orthotics have been around for some time and are nothing new, many people who know nothing about them and are suffering needlessly.

Creaky Knee Syndrome (And Other Joint Problems) (Part 2)

Back in December 08, I wrote about joint problems and how glucosamine can help to ease pain and repair cartilage damage.  Whilst Glucosamine is certainly effective, I would also recommend that you visit a good osteopath or chiropractor.  If your joints are being damaged by some structural problem with bone alignment, then you will constantly be undoing any good done by the glucosamine.

As a young man of about 20, I was getting a lot of swelling around my knee when I went to my karate training.  There was so much fluid that it dropped from my knee to my ankle and my ankle had become literally twice the size.  I went to the doctor who could find nothing wrong with the knee and told me to rest it (no karate training).  So I rested it, swelling went down . . . . trained, swelling came back . . . . rested it longer, swelling went down . . . . trained, swelling came back up . . . . back to the doctor.

The doctor re-examined my knee, found nothing wrong again and told me to rest it for longer.  So I rested it longer, swelling went down . . . . trained swelling came back . . . . etc etc . . . . back to the doctor.  He still couldn’t find anything wrong and this time sent me to the hospital to have it X-rayed.  The X-ray showed nothing, and guess what I was told . . . . yes you guessed it . . . . rest it.

So eventually I went to an osteopath.  He concluded that my hip was slightly out and this was effecting my knee.  He clicked the hip back into place, told my I could train but to ease myself back into it and I had no more knee problems for years.  One visit to the osteopath sorted what 3 months of doctors and hospitals had failed to do.  The doctor and hospital did not even look at my hips.

More recently having another bout of knee problems I went to a chiropractor.  After a few clicks on the spine, he told me that my arches in my feet had dropped (which apparently is common as you get older).  This had led to my feet compensating by distorting slightly, which in turn had effected my knees and even my spine.

So whilst products like glucosamine and cod liver oil can be good for joints, it is well worth getting the structure of you body checked first or you could be wasting your money.

Creaky Knee Syndrome (And Other Joint Problems)

Cartilage is the shock absorber for where our bones meet each other at our joints.  Over time our cartilage breaks down, so our bones become more susceptible to rubbing and bumping against each other.  This in turn leads to sore and swollen joints along with stiffness.  This usually comes with age and sometimes to younger athletes who put great demand on their bodies.  Having done much karate training in younger days, I suffer from “creaky knee syndrome” myself.  It must be the karate because at 46 years young, I’m far too youthful to have age related problems :

The most successful nutrient for treating  joints is glucosamine.  It is derived from the shell of ocean shrimps and is the basic building block for the larger molecules in cartilage.  Numerous studies demonstrate that glucosamine stimulates cartilage cells to produce protioglycans and collagen which helps to repair cartilage.  This in turn soothes aching joints and helps to keep them strong.  Who’d have that the the humble shrimp would save the world.

Many baby boomers, senior citizens and even athletes already regularly use glucosamine for joint relief, whilst a growing number use it as a prevention.

Knee joints are particularly vulnerable as the average able bodied person walks every day, even if they do not work out.  The knee joint is actually a bad design that is load bearing and in constant use, no decent engineer would ever design a joint like it.

Apart from glucosamine, keeping the muscles strong around your joints can help too, as strong muscles stabilise the joint.  However, you need to be careful what exercises you chose though.  For example if you do squats with a weights to strength you thigh muscles, the extra weight can actually make your bones grind against each other more than normal.  Get advise from a qualified trainer, preferably a more mature trainer as they may be better able to relate and have personal experience compared with a youngster straight out of college.

nuflexNutronix provide an advanced glucosamine product called NuFlex, which combines glucosomine with 7 other nutrients to maximise easing and possibly recovery of aching joints.  This includes MSM, boswellia extract, chondroitin sulfate, tumeric, quercetin and methionine.  To find out more go to the main Nutronix website, click on “Products” near the top, then click on “Joint Health” in the left have column