If you want to keep moving through life, you need healthy joints and muscles, but few people know what’s actually required to keep the body’s connective tissue vibrant. (That’s not surprising, because most people aren’t aware of their connective tissue!) In this article, I’ll give you three basics for nourishing your muscles and everything that connects them to your skeleton.
A healthy muscle is fluid and pliable like gelatin. Unhealthy muscles are dried out and stiff like beef jerky. So what does it take to get your tissues juicy?
Liquid. When you’re not fully hydrated, your blood will become thick and fluid will seep from your muscles to supply your organs. Also, did you know that 60 to 75 of your cartilage, the tissue that facilitates smooth and pain free joint movement, is made of water? The general rule for “enough water” is two quarts a day. According to Dr. Weil you can also get needed fluids from herbal tea and diluted fruit juice or sports drinks. (www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA57092)
Drinking the water is the first step. Getting it into your tissues is the second, which is done through muscular activity. When a muscle contracts, it forces fluid from the surrounding connective tissue. When it relaxes, fresh fluid flows back in. Moving is the second step to hydrating your tissues.
Nutrients. All cells in your body, including your muscles and nerves, benefit from nutrition. A diet full of vitamins and minerals is essential to staying supple. It’s been found that lack of B Vitamins, especially B-6, play a role in the activation of trigger points. (www.naturalhealers.com/qa/trigger-point.shtml)
Also, muscle cramps can sometimes be caused by deficiencies of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, or iron. Movement is also necessary to nourish your tissues, especially your cartilage and intervertebral discs. They have no direct blood flow and depend on the movement of fluid produced by physical activity for nutrients and removal of waste products.
Moderate Activity. Overworking and overstretching creates injury to your tissues and leaves you with scar tissue, which is stiff and inflexible by nature’s design, or with calcium deposits and crunchy gunk surrounding your muscles. Going for the “burn” is too much and counterproductive. It’s better to exercise a bit each day than to do a marathon of activity once or twice a week. One way to avoid soft-tissue damage is to stay fully conscious of where your body is and what you’re doing with it and then stopping when you’ve done enough. (Sorry to say, that isn’t possible when you are watching TV and running on the treadmill.)
Healthy muscles and joints are created by fluidity, adequate nutrition, and appropriate movement. We are fortunate to have access to all three, so anyone can begin to move more gracefully through life.
(Parts of this article were excerpted from Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again, www.atlasbooks.com/marktplc/01913.htm)