Meditation & Health No 14 - Table of Contents


Healthy Bones Part II:
Arthritis Care

        When we watch athletes in action, we are often amazed by their fluid movements and poise. Our daily simple actions of walking, eating and dressing, and the more complex and graceful motions used in activities such as dancing, are possible because of the combined actions of our bones and muscles. How does the musculoskeletal system work together in synergy?

        An integral component is the joint, the connection between two separate bones that allows for flexible movements. Cartilage, the soft tissue on the surface of the joint that allows for ease of movement, helps to distribute the weight of our body. However, delicate cartilage can be injured when supporting heavy weight or performing strenuous sports, and degenerates as it ages. Injury or degeneration of the joint is likely to result in arthritis.

        Arthritis is a common chronic disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States reported that an estimated 52.5 million U.S. adults (about one in five) report having diagnosed arthritis. In Asia alone, the prevalence of this joint disease affects approximately one in six individuals.
       In this issue, we will explore this challenging problem and discuss the many ways to maintain good joint health.



Be Aware of How Arthritis Attacks

     There are many different types of arthritis that can cause symptoms in our joints. These are some of the more common types.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

     This is a common form of arthritis characterized by recurrent attacks. When it presents, the joint is usually hot, swollen and painful. It can affect the knee, shoulder, hip or wrist joints, and the symptoms can be fleeting in nature, affecting different joints at different times.


     Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, tends to affect the elderly. Its occurrence tends to be more gradual, affecting the hips, knees, wrists, and spine. The symptoms usually worsen after high-impact exercises and activities. When this happens, a rest can alleviate the symptoms. If joints feel stiff upon waking, we should pay attention to this condition. As we start our day’s activities, the stiffness should gradually fade.

Gouty Arthritis

     Gout is caused by a metabolic disorder resulting in high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream and the formation of crystals in the joints. Males are more commonly affected, particularly after enjoying a hearty meal of excessive seafood, red meat or beans. The big-toe joints are commonly afflicted with burning pain, redness, swelling, and stiffness.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

     Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the spine, causing stiffness and poor flexibility. It may also gradually progress to involve the joints of the lower limbs. If progressive deformities in the entire spinal column occur, such as a humpback posture, quality of life can be severely affected. A strong family history is often present in males affected during early adulthood.


Why Are More People Suffering From
Arthritis at an Early Age?

    Most people perceive arthritis as a degenerative condition affecting the aged. However, with changes in modern lifestyle and the environment, arthritis is now affecting younger individuals.

The Driver

     While driving, we tend to tense our neck and shoulder muscles. Such tension often causes poor posture of the neck and lower back, resulting in progressive deformities of the spine and possibly degenerative-disc disease. If the temperature of the air-conditioning is set too low, the chill inside the vehicle can also worsen joint pain.

The “Thumb Pad”

     In this era of advanced technology, almost everyone has a portable electronic device of some sort. When we spend long hours in the same position swiping and poking on our electronic screens, we can unknowingly damage the small joints in our hand, wrist, fingers, and especially the thumb. The results manifest as numbness, swelling, pain and poor sensitivity, or difficulty with simple movements such as grasping and holding objects.


    In the heat of summer, air-conditioning provides welcomed relief. However, it is also a contributor to arthritis in our joints. When we escape from the heat into a cooler place, the difference in temperature causes blood vessels to constrict, affecting the blood flow to our tissues and the drainage of fluids. This can easily lead to pain and discomfort in our joints.



     Sleeveless tops and miniskirts are the preferred outfits during hot summers. However, dressing in this manner can expose us to an arthritis attack; a cold draft may slip into the body and trigger joint aches and numbness. In addition, wearing heels also overloads the knee joints and causes tremendous stress on the cartilage. Many young women are now developing slow and progressive arthritis in their joints.


Let’s Develop Good Joint Habits

     If you are one of those highlighted in the previous categories, don’t worry, we have some excellent tips that can ease your suffering and prevent further deterioration of your joint health.

Tips for Healthy Joints

     Never overwork and wear yourself down. Whether at work or at play, always be aware of your posture and regularly stop what you are doing to stretch your muscles and tendons, thereby loosening and lubricating your joints. To avoid pressure in the joints, do not bend your joints excessively, and avoid sitting with one leg crossed.
     Regularly soak your feet in ankle-deep warm water for 15 minutes to assist circulation to the lower extremities. This can also relax you and ease the ache in your joints. Search out a natural hot spring, as it is an excellent way to relieve stress and rid the body of dampness.
     It is very important to keep your body warm and protected from a chill. This is especially so for the more vulnerable areas, which include the shoulders, elbows and knees. A scarf or wrap is handy for this purpose.


Say No

     Eat less nuts, dairy products and seafood. These can easily trigger allergic and arthritic reactions.
     Avoid binging on meat and fish. The inflammatory nature of the high protein and cholesterol in such foods can cause joint pain and swelling, and encourage conditions such as osteoporosis.
     We love chocolates and desserts. However, these high-sugar treats can aggravate inflammation in joints and worsen arthritis.
     Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, coffee and carbonated drinks, which are aggravators of arthritis.

Two Delicious Recipes to Promote Healthy Joints

     Here are two simple and nutritious dishes that strengthen joints.

Pearl Barley and Luffa Porridge

     In a pot add pearl barley 150 gm, peppermint leaves 15 gm, fermented black beans 50 gm, luffa 1,500 gm (peeled, washed and cut in cubes). Add 1,500 ml of water and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add a dash of salt or sugar to taste. Consume this on an empty stomach to quell dampness and rheumatism.

Papaya and Honey Soup

     Steam papayas; peel them and discard the seeds; mash. Stir in 250 gm of raw honey. Mix thoroughly. Store the paste in the refrigerator. Every morning, add 15-30 gm (1-2 tbsp) of the paste to hot water. This is best taken on an empty stomach to help relieve joint pain.


Move Those Aching Joints!

     “Blockages cause pain” is a well-established concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine that describes blockages of the meridian channels in the body resulting in poor blood circulation, thus joint pain. If we are always sedentary, it will worsen the congestion and blockages of these channels. So we must keep our body active, especially through exercise, to promote better flow in our energy channels and perspiration; this is the way to gradually improve our joint conditions. What kind of exercises are suitable?

Dry Swimming

     Stand upright, bend upper body slightly forward, and relax both arms on each side of the body; let them dangle. Rotate both arms 10 times with shoulder as the center, just like swimming freestyle. Then change direction, like swimming backstroke, and rotate 10 times.

Shoulder and Arm Stretch

     Raise left arm over your head and bend the elbow to reach your back, with palm facing inward. Move the right arm to your back, with palm facing outward. Grasp the fingers to join both hands.Hold for 10 seconds. Reverse the arm positions and hold for 10 seconds.

Knee Rotation

     With both feet together, bend the knees slightly to a squatting position. With the hands on the knees, rotate the knees 20 times in a clockwise direction. Change direction and rotate another 20 times.

Touch the Knee With Opposite Elbow

     Sit on a chair with feet apart. With fingers on the shoulders, twist the upper body to the left, lean forward and touch the left knee with right elbow. Hold for 10 seconds. Change direction. Repeat five to 10 times.


Energu Bagua

      Energy Bagua is a powerful practice for preventing and moderating arthritis. Through this practice, Grandmaster JinBodhi imparts the essence of the union of humankind with Heaven and Earth. During every rotation, there is an exchange of energy between practitioner and Nature, revitalizing the person’s inner energy within a short time. The body gradually warms up and expels dampness through perspiration. The steps are gentle yet powerful, not exerting any pressure on the joints. This method brings about an accelerated metabolism of the blood circulation and clears the blockages within the meridian channels so as to allow smooth blood flow throughout the body.


       Prostration is also very beneficial for maintaining healthy joints. You may choose to practice either indoors or outdoors, but be careful not to practice directly on cold flooring or in a place that is damp and cold. Instead of being beneficial, practicing in a cold place could be harmful as cold air may slip into your body. Before you start your prostration, turn off air-conditioning and lay a mat on the floor. Allow your mind to calm down before you start practicing. As long as you persist for a period of time, you will experience surprising benefits.
       Through sensible exercise, proper nutrition, meditation and other health-promoting practices, your joints will become healthy and strong.


Meditation & Health No 14 - Table of Contents