Addressing Vata-Related Joint Pain With Ayurveda

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Most joint discomfort originates in the Vata subdosha. If your Vata subdosha is out of balance, you may be experiencing problems and pain in your joints. The Vata subdosha is the mission control of your circulation and nerve impulses, so when you are out of balance in this subdosha, everything from your ability to absorb food to your ability to pump blood to an injured body part is compromised. This can lead to the subdosha of Kapha (which governs lubrication of the joints) being knocked out of balance and drying out. Without proper lubrication, the joints can experience pain, cracking, and diminished flexibility.

What can be done to bring the Vata subdosha back into balance? One of the best remedies is to follow a Vata-calming diet and daily routine.

Ideally, this would include all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent) in the diet, with an emphasis on sweet, sour and salty tastes.

Include other healthy foods such as grains (rye, quinoa, and amaranth), cooked simply in water with a small amount of ghee; steamed organic vegetables; sweet, organic, juicy fruits, and mung dahl soup.

Increase your calcium intake and avoid the following calcium inhibitors: caffeine, alcohol, and an acidic diet.

As much as possible, simplify and distress your life.  Aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep at night and avoid doing anything too stimulating right before bedtime.

Try to eat your main meal at lunch, and then eat a small dinner early in the evening.

Enjoy a light exercise routine, but nothing that puts stress on your sore joints take a leisurely walk or practice Yin Yoga.

A daily meditation session will calm your mind and return to your breath.

Another remedy is a daily ayurvedic oil massage ( abhyanga) to improve circulation and settle the vata sub-dosha.

Massage helps detoxify the body, thus preventing impurities from building up while at the same time lubricating the joints. And it’s a wonderful way to settle the mind and body, promoting better sleep which speeds healing. To do this kind of massage, which is typically done upon rising, choose a place where it’s okay if oil gets spilled, such as a bathroom floor.

Spread a towel, sit on it and starting with warmed organic sesame oil, dip your fingertips into the warm oil and apply it lightly to the entire body. Start with the head, and then using the open hand, stroke the skin with long movements.

Remember to be more gentle on sensitive areas and pay particular attention to the soles of the feet and the hands (including fingernails) as these areas are where nerve endings come together.

After finishing, simply relax for while the oil is absorbed. The longer the oil is on your skin, the deeper it penetrates. Blot excess oil with paper towels if you like, then follow with a relaxing warm bath or shower. This massage is best done daily, but even a few times per week will help you heal faster.

Remember that if you are experiencing mobility problems, one of the best things you can do is to take the weight off of the affected area. Don’t be afraid to rest. If you need to be up and about, try doing it with as little impact on the affected joint as possible.

Consider using a mobility aid like a knee scooter or crutches to make sure you’re giving your body as much support as possible even when you have to get up and move. Click here for the 7 best pads for crutches – crutch pads help you avoid any injury associated with excess pressure being placed on the axillary nerve in the underarm.

In order to speed healing, there are herbs and minerals that can help Vata-related joint problems. Boswellia has been used with success in the treatment of arthritis.

Ginger has been used to promote joint mobility, decrease swelling and address morning stiffness. Because calcium absorption is usually an issue with this type of joint problem, take a calcium supplement to provide nutritional support to the bones.

The addition of turmeric and cinnamon bark have been shown to be helpful, especially turmeric. Turmeric has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the buildup of free radicals that occurs when the body is stressed by exercise or lifestyle.

While Western medicine can help with the management of symptoms when the body and joints are inflamed, taking a gentler Ayurvedic approach will often serve better to bring the body back into balance.

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