Horseman’s Health: Maintaining Your Flexibility

ridersTake a moment to think about how often during the day you bend over, stand up and walk, lift items, stretch to reach something on a high shelf, get on a horse, and all the other ways flexibility helps you throughout the day. Most of us do these things naturally and never think about the muscles required to perform such tasks unless we have joint pain or muscle pain or cramping. When we have pain we are often very aware of our muscles and joints. As we get older we tend to lose some of our flexibility and those aches and pains often become more prevalent. There are ways to use natural solutions to maintain your flexibility in muscles and joints which help keep you active on into your senior years. Exercise would be the obvious solution and it’s true that stretching type exercises help keep muscles and joints loose which is good to do before starting other types of exercise and doing stretching exercises such as yoga for just 15 minutes a day can really help you stay flexible, keep muscles from becoming fatigued, increase your physical energy and increase oxygen in your body. What may not be as obvious is certain changes you can make in your diet to help you maintain flexibility.

A Flexibility Diet
Certain types of foods can help you keep your joints and muscle tissues hydrated and add to the growth of muscles. When you think of hydration, first of all think water. Water is essential to keep joints lubricated and maintain the elasticity of muscles. Make sure you are drinking water throughout the day as well as just before beginning exercise. Some experts also recommend drinking water first thing in the morning to prepare joints and muscles for the day. Vegetables are a healthy part of any diet, but for maintaining flexibility, veggies of the dark green leafy variety are a good choice. This would include spinach, kale, chard, barley grass, seaweeds, sea vegetables, spirulina, chlorella, and AFA bluegreen algae that are all high water content vegetables. They are also good sources of beta carotene, calcium, and iron necessary for muscles and joints to stay flexible.

Antioxidants are also found in vegetables and can help fight off the free radical damage that can cause inflammation in joints and muscles. Veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, radishes, and Brussels sprouts are sulfur-rich which helps your body make glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate that are good for the connective tissues that support your joints. Sprouted grains and seeds added to your diet can also give you the benefits of antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids that have been found to reduce joint inflammation. Eating AFA bluegreen algae is another way to get not only your omega-3’s but also omega-6 fatty acid and both of these in the exact ratio the body needs. Grains such as quinoa, wild rice, millet, amaranth, and sprouts give you good carbohydrates and many experts recommend eating these types of carbs especially just after working out to rebuild muscle, boost your energy and restock your glycogen and glucose reserves.

Protein is another component needed in a good flexibility diet as it is necessary for building muscles and helping muscles stay strong. Staying with lean protein sources will help keep weight down which is important for maintaining muscle and joint health. White meat poultry, fish, beans, soy, whole grains and AFA bluegreen algae are all good protein sources that won’t pack on the pounds. If you are extra active and need extra protein, you can also use a protein powder like this smoothie mix made of pure organic whey protein from rBGH-free cattle that has 22 grams of protein, as well as sprouts, protein-digesting enzymes and AFA bluegreen algae added in. Other considerations when planning your flexibility diet include foods with:

  • zinc – crimini mushrooms, collard greens, spinach, chard, asparagus, cocoa, lean beef, pork, oysters, poultry, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, and miso
  • copper – crimini mushrooms, collard greens, spinach, chard, asparagus and cocoa
  • manganese – cocoa, sunflower seeds, flax, wheat germ, oats, brown rice, green beans, collard greens, spinach, and chard
  • vitamin C – berries, oranges, cantaloupe, Bell pepper, potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes and broccoli
  • B vitamins (especially vitamin B1& B6) – dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and Brussel sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, fish such as tuna and cod, poultry, potatoes, lentils, beets, sunflower seeds, and supporting probiotic growth in the intestines where the body makes our B vitamins with probiotic supplements such as acidophilus and bifidus.

If flexibility is important to you to keep you doing the activities you want to do, then get started now making some diet and exercise changes that will help you maintain your flexibility now and into the future.

Sources:
http://www.livingsmartgirl.com/foods-improve-workout-flexibility/
http://www.yogabodynaturals.com/yoga-secrets-whole-foods-flexibility/
http://www.mindmuscleyoga.com/blog/food-for-flexibility

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