Support your connective tissues’ health with a nutrient-rich, low-inflammation diet.
- Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Eat enough protein, which provides the “building blocks” of tissue repair.
- Consider supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, and copper if you are deficient.
- Consider anti-inflammatory foods and supplements such as ginger, turmeric, and/or an omega-3 supplement.
- Limit inflammatory foods (such as processed foods and sugar) as well as any foods to which you know you’re intolerant.
Work out smart
- Try a safety bar squat or a cross arm (“genie”) front squat instead of regular barbell back squats to decrease elbow stress.
- Do fewer isolation exercises for biceps and triceps. Instead, focus on compound exercises where the load is higher and the stress is distributed over more than one joint.
- If it hurts, avoid it. Find an alternative.
- Vary your movements and loading. Take a day off between intense workouts. Build in recovery days each week with easy movement and mobility work. Have a diverse roster of activities instead of doing the same handful of things over and over.
- You can use an elbow band if you find it comfortable during workouts.
- Try lifting straps to decrease the amount of gripping necessary for heavy lifts, like this.
- Look at overall upper body mobility. A tight posterior shoulder capsule may contribute to elbow pain.
- Build a solid foundation and mechanics before you increase the speed or resistance at which you do something. Remember that connective tissues take a long time to build and heal.
- Check your computer workstation. If your hands are always in pain, change the setup.
- Get massage therapy and work on flexibility. Try some regular forearm soft tissue work.
- Engage in rehab with pain free strengthening exercises (wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, elbow flexion, elbow extension, forearm pronation/supination).
- Return to full-strength activities gradually. You may need as much as a year of rehab exercises.
Try the following foods and/or supplements that help to moderate inflammation and promote tissue healing:
- Foods/supplements rich in omega-3 fats:
Algae oil, flax, chia, hemp, walnuts, leafy greens, fish, fish and marine oils (e.g. krill and algae)
- Foods/supplements rich in flavanoids:
Turmeric, garlic, pineapple, tea, berries, cocoa
- Foods rich in vitamin C:
Guava, red bell pepper, broccoli, green bell peppers, strawberries, grapefruit, kohlrabi, papaya, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, mango, oranges
- Foods rich in vitamin A:
Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, collards, kale, watercress, beets, winter squash, tomatoes, dried apricots, mango
- Foods rich in zinc:
Mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, baked beans, cashews, whole grains, oysters, chicken, crab, lamb, beef, pork, turkey, lobster, wheat germ, watermelon seeds
- Foods rich in copper:
Mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, barley, soybeans, tempeh, sunflower seeds, navy beans, garbanzo beans, cashews, molasses, beef liver, oysters, lobster, crab, chocolate, cocoa powder.
- Amino acids:
Supplementing with arginine (7 grams, 2x/day), HMB (1.5 grams, 2x/day), and glutamine (7 grams, 2x/day) might assist in collagen deposition and injury healing.
Also, try keeping a food journal as well as tracking your pain / inflammation symptoms.
See if you notice any correlations. When is your pain better or worse? Do particular foods seem to make a difference?
Many people find that when they remove inflammatory foods, and/or foods to which their body reacts, they have less joint pain.