Lower body joint pain might be the most impactful on your life. When your hips, knees, and ankles are throbbing, getting around becomes more than difficult: it can be torture.
In many cases, however, the pain is not the result of an injury. It might be as simple as your body carrying around too much weight. This is why weight loss has been identified as one of the best ways to relieve joint pain.
Weight loss can benefit joint health and reduce joint pain in a number of ways. First is that movement is associated with less joint pain. Activity can help create a caloric deficit while also lubricating joints so they move more fluidly and painlessly.
Swimming, cycling, and water aerobics are all low-impact activities that are easier on the joints.
Next, a weight loss plan typically involves making healthier food choices. Replacing high-calorie, high-sugar, and inflammatory foods with nutrient-dense options that can reduce inflammation to reduce the pain in your joints.
Lastly, less weight means your joints are under less pressure.
Weight loss is ultimately achieved by creating a caloric deficit, meaning to consume fewer calories each day than you burn. Calories are burned through activity, as well as inactivity. Normal bodily processes like your heart beating and digestion burn calories, too.
To reduce joint pain with weight management, here are a few things to try:
- Log food intake: Journaling food keeps you accountable and shows where you could use improvement.
- Make incremental changes: Adopting a major dietary overhaul is not the best way to go. Make small incremental changes—like one less soda per day or including one or two more servings of fruit or vegetables per day. Make more changes as you progress.
- Be mindful: Pay attention to how fast and how much you’re eating. Try slowing down and enjoying the taste of your food by chewing slowly and taking small bites. Budget about 20-minutes to eat, undisturbed, then wait for another 20 to see if you’re still hungry.
- Control portion sizes: Use smaller plates and serving sizes and avoid piling food up.
- Keep high-calorie foods out of sight: Put your snacks or high-calorie foods at the back of the freezer or high in cabinets buried behind other items. This strategy helps take away temptation while ensuring you have work for these snacks.
When people think about managing joint pain, they might not connect it with weight loss. But dropping a few pounds—as little as 10% of body weight—can have a big influence on inflammation and joint health.